We’re finally back after a long christmas-break, and we must admit that watching football and having a few beers with good friends became the number one priority during the holidays. Sometimes it’s just delightfull to enjoy the game solely as a supporter, without caring too much about deep analysis and clever things to say (if we ever did that).
Nothing lasts forever, though, and it’s about time we got back up on that famous horse again. Like always there’s a strong chance that we fall off somewhere in the process, but if we do: it will always be in style. With this pompous and perhaps misplaced analogy, we kick off this weeks “On The Rebound”!
The Premier League is always going to be tight and exciting, and this has also been the case for the 1415-edition- with one exception: Chelsea and Manchester City are battling all alone in the title race. Considering the amount of money some of the other “top clubs” have spent in the summer, the superiority they are showing is somewhat surprising.
For a long period, Chelsea seemed unbeatable and people were talking about their chances of copying that legendary Arsenal-side who went through a complete season without defeat. Those chances perished early in December when Newcastle decided to show Mourinho’s men that St.James’ Park sometimes could be a tricky place to visit.
After this, the London-club dropped some pace and their blue rivals from Manchester grabbed the momentum and caught up. Although City easily had one of the softest match-programs in the Christmas-period, their run of 13 matches without defeat is impressive considering the fact that they’ve been playing without a proper striker in several of these games.
Now, after an exciting gameweek, Chelsea is two points ahead of City, but we think these two teams will change positions at least once or twice before the season ends.
Who’s going to come out on top: the elegant and gifted City-side, or the more industrious and hard-hitting Chelsea? We don’t have the answer, but we know that no-one else will be even close.
The mandatory manager sacking has begun, and both Crystal Palace and West Bromwich decided it was about time to do something about the recent run of bad results. WBA brought in 1-0-expert, Tony Pulis, while Crystal Palace found it reasonable to put Newcastle-fans out of their misery and buy Alan Padrew for £2mill. Pulis’ record is difficult to argue with, and Padrew did actually do a decent job with Newcastle at times. We’re pretty sure that some historical figure once said that all change is for the better, so it didn’t come as a surprise when both managers recorded a win in their debuts. Crystal Palace got a sweet victory when they beat London-rival Tottenham 2-1 at Selhurst Park, while WBA obviously got the “Pulis-signature” win and defeated Hull 1-0 at home.
3. Alexis Sanchez
He’s been a revelation all season and soon the Chilean will join ranks with legendary Arsenal-strikers such as George, Wright, Bergkamp and Henry. This gameweek he smashed up Stoke almost on his own by scoring two and setting up one, in a match Arsenal eventually won 3-0. Wenger and company are now very close to catching up with Manchester United and Southampton, and things look very promising for The Gunners. If they manage to keep Sanchez away from injuries, we believe they will claim that 3rd place without sweating too much. There are no guarantees though: Arsenal’s injury record this season has been dark reading material.
In addition to Sanchez’s brilliant display, we found great joy in watching Theo Walcott back on the pitch again. Fantasybet-managers should monitor the speedster’s upcoming performances very closely.
1. Out of luck
So it finally ended: Manchester United’s run of ten matches without defeat came to an end as Southampton were effective and beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford. Some United supporters were bold enough to complain about bad luck, but we think most of them have to acknowledge that “bad luck” has been United’s least concern for long parts of this season. The victory was, quite honest, nothing more than what The Saint’s deserved after the “De Gea-robbery” at St.Marys. We’ve said it before and we might as well repeat it now: with all the quality Luis Van Gaal has at his disposal, United should be playing much better! As a matter of fact; Van Gaal now have exactly the same amount of points as “worthless” David Moyes had at the same time last season. So if no one else will raise the question, we will: should Van Gaal’s position be under consideration? Perhaps not, but how long will United-supporters accept their team’s inability to dominate matches?
Luckily for the Dutchman, the upcoming fixtures are on the kind side, with QPR (A) and Burnley (H). Will the team respond to this week’s defeat and give their fans a worthy showing, or do they need another visit from Miss Fortuna to grab the expected points?
2. Fighting spirit
QPR lack something essential when they are on the road, and they now have 10(!) straight defeats when playing away from Loftus Road. Managers always like to speak of “fighting spirit” as a crucial element to winning games, and maybe that’s what Harry’s team has been missing? Clint Hill and Richard Dunne showed a good deal of it, however- the only problem was that it happened after their away game against Burnley (which they lost obviously). Both defenders were eager to have a go at some of the travelling QPR-supporters, following a heated exchange of words right after the defeat. Joey Barton (!!) had to step in to prevent the incident from escalating further- a good pointer to show that you really are out of line!
3. Mario Balotelli
Rodgers know it, we know it and Mario himself surely knows it: GAME OVER