Sunday, December 28, 2008

At the halfway mark

At the halfway point in the Premier Season, and the entire bottom-half of the standings are in relegation trouble, and the only three teams looking to be in title contention are Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. The top three have had a frustrating year.

Liverpool has been missing its star striker, Torres, due to mysterious hamstring troubles. Its other star, Robbie Keane, has been unable to find goal for most of the season (the last two games may mark a turn-around, only time will tell). Most commentators have been unimpressed with Liverpool's form and expect Liverpool to collapse in the second half of the season.

Chelsea have been without their number one striker, Drogba, for most of the season. While Anelka has been pounding in the goals, he does not seem to be able to make them when the club needs them the most: when they need one to tie or go ahead. Chelsea has the best midfield in the league, but the whole team is too easily thwarted by tenacious defense.

Manchester United has also had problems scoring when it counts. However, unlike Chelsea, ManU have no excuses, with the best strikers in the league (Rooney, Berbatov, Tevez, and Ronaldo) all willing and able and fit. Ronaldo seems to be off his form this year, although no one seems to be talking about it. Manchester United are ten points behind Liverpool, but have played three fewer games due to international commitments (the Supercup and the International Champions Cup).

Aston Villa is having a good year, but they have not convinced themselves that they can be champions -- they seem to have set their sights just on finishing the year at number 4, which will be good enough to qualify them for the big boys in the European Champion's Cup.

Arsenal's biggest problem is itself. Wenger seems to have lost his way. And while the talent is there, the youth and inexperience of the team shows itself in frightening ways.

Everton is one point behind Arsenal, but no one mentions this team as a possible title challenger. Perhaps it would be poetry if they somehow managed to end the season in the top four.

At the beginning of the season I believed that Chelsea would be the team to beat: they know what it means to end up with the consolation prize. I still think that is true.