We took a close look at the remaining fixtures in this season’s Barclays Premiership, and we are unimpressed. Surely the Manchesters won’t simply run away with the league, and there’s got to be some sort of shakeup between third, fourth and the also rans between now and the middle of May… But apparently, no. As you’ll see in our carefully crafted points-tracking chart below, everyone will keep their current standing, though it won’t be without a few bums becoming squeaky. We’ll revisit our predictions each week through the remainder of the season to see just how right we were.
Click on the chart for an expanded view, and click on the expanded view for an even more expanded view, blindy.
I have to say, I have empathy for the looters. When you see no other option for survival, I totally understand the mindset of trying to obtain what you need to live. Of course, I’m talking about those who tried to loot food and water in Somalia – not the idiots in London right now who are stealing televisions, clothing and anything else they can get their hands on.
This is not something I wanted to be writing about – my intention this week was to give a Premiership preview with some analysis of where each team stood. Instead, I’m spending my time reading reports about London, a city I lived in for nearly 8 years, being in flames and destroyed by rioters. I just wanted to offer a few thoughts about these events and will then provide a very brief prediction for the new season, whenever it may start.
Nominally, this all started because a man was killed in Tottenham, North London, by a police officer. There are conflicting stories about the events that lead to this death, and they will come out in the investigation, but I think it’s important to recognise this has nothing to do with that event at this point. There was a peaceful protest from the family of Mark Duggan, the man who was killed, requesting more information from the police, but for people to use that as a reason for this mindless violence and destruction is a complete fallacy. Whatever happened in that incident, I feel great sympathy for the family of Mr. Duggan, and for the police officers who were involved in the incident. If mistakes were made on either side, it would be difficult enough to come to terms with – to have the event be referred to as the catalyst of all this rioting must exacerbate it greatly.
Trying to work out the true reason for these riots is much more difficult – obviously economic downturn and a hot summer are contributing factors, but there are plenty of other places where those issues exist and people manage to get along without rioting. The British National Party (the BNP – an extremist, racist group) will try and blame the influx of ethnic minorities to the country – indeed last night their Chairman and (somehow) Member of the European Parliament Nick Griffin tweeted that “In all the radio and TV Interviews I’ve heard from London, I’ve only heard one real London accent” – as if talking like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins* would abate any trouble. Griffin is doing his best to turn this into race riots, my fear is that he is going to be successful. Thus far, from what I have seen the looters/rioters/arsonists/criminals/twats have been from every ethnic background – a potential descent into a race riot makes this all the more frightening.
*I’m kidding, his accent was terrible
One final point I would like to comment on, is the idea that those who are rioting are doing so because of poverty. I know everything is relative, but there are real issues in East Africa right now, famine is killing tens of thousands of people and it is a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Idiots in the UK are grabbing the headlines with their mindless violence, in the US everyone is focused on the economy and the amount of money companies were worth went from ‘a helluva lot’ all the way down to ‘slightly less than that’; meanwhile people are starving to death. These people have real problems, not ones created by bickering governments or opportunistic thugs – danger to ordinary people in the UK is very real now, I’m saying it is completely needless and could be stopped in an instant if the rioters realised the error of their ways. The same is not true in the Horn of Africa, the situation is tragic and they need our help. If you can, donate to help to those most in need.
[Editor’s note: Here’s the inaugural edition of something we’d like to make a semi-regular feature: a look at the top of the table. Here we look (once again) at the Premier League table, but we plan to check in on other tables around the world over the course of the season.]
Someone eventually has to win the Premier League title–but from recent results, it’s hard to figure out who. Here’s the top of the table as of today–it’s virtually certain to be one of these teams that ends up on top at the end:
But alas none of the top contenders have been especially impressive:
Chelsea lost again over the weekend, this time to lowly Birmingham–their third loss in four weeks, following losses at Liverpool and at home to Sunderland. And the latest loss came days after unceremoniously dumping their assistant manager; whether or not it contributed to the latest loss, it has precipitated close to a full-blown crisis at Stamford Bridge, with manager Carlos Ancelotti saying “I am not in control at Chelsea.”
Man Cityhad been the team in crisis-mode over the past month, with their home fans booing a scoreless draws against Man U and Birmingham–until they broke out of their doldrums this past weekend in a big way, with a 4-1 thrashing of Fulham. Following which, Fulham’s manager (and Man City’s former manager–and Man U legend), the “super classy” Mark Hughes, said Man City are still in the hunt: “On their performance today certainly they’re contenders. They were excellent. If they have belief and there’s some forward thinking, and maybe they’re a bit more attack-minded as they were today on more occasions, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. They’ve got as good a chance as anybody.”
Man U? Somewhat surprisingly, still undefeated–but hardly dominating, with a record of 7 wins and 7 draws. And let’s not forget they had been the team in crisis not too long ago; in fact, young Mr. Rooney returned to the pitch this past weekend.
Rounding out the top of the table, tied with 22 points apiece, are the victors of that North London derby, Spurs–whose manager thinks they’ve got a shot at the crown; and Bolton (not sure who thinks they have a legitimate shot at the title). But who knows, the way things are going…
In fact, the situation can be best summarized by Uncle Harry’s comments referenced above:
This is the best chance anyone is going to get, this season. The league has never been more open. Sunderland go to Chelsea last weekend and win 3-0, Manchester United were losing by two goals at Aston Villa until late on. It’s wide open for somebody who can put a run together. It’s there for someone to have a real go at it. Why be fearful and say ‘we can’t win it’. Why can’t we win it?
There’s a lot of rumbling about Coach Bob heading to Birmingham to take over at Aston Villa after Martin O’Neill’s surprising departure just days before the season starts. It’s been a strong side, and O’Neill has done well during his tenure there. His leaving was as sudden as it was mysterious, though most assume he was simply fed up with the transfer pot at his disposal.
Bradley has 11/4 odds of being selected, and he was given polite backing by Sir Alex during Man U’s tour of the States. Before the Brazil matchup last night, Tim Howard thought better of criticizing the coach:
“With his style, I think he’d be accepted by all the players. It’s hard to say how he’d do, because the way things happen now with managers in Europe, and certainly England, is pretty damn crazy. But overall I think he’d be accepted. And that’s the biggest thing, is player acceptance.”
There’d be a learning curve for certain, but Bradley is a decent tactician and clearly knows how to motivate his players. He prepares well, his teams are always fit, and I think he’d make a good showing holding the reins at Villa. I say go for it, Bob!