ODS: I’m going to take off my mind from Malaysian political circus for a while and give my attention to the most popular sports played around the world – football. However, I’m not going to talk about FAM and Khairy (as done in my postings before), but more on one of my favourite club in this world – Arsenal Football Club. It is not that I’m not passionate about local football scene, it’s just I’m tired of acts of some individual involved, be it from management or players. I dare not to say anything on Malaysia’s FIFA rankings as there are no international matches that determine the current development of Malaysian team since last AFC Cup last year.
With Liverpool out of the picture in both UEFA Champions League and English FA Cup, three giant teams of Barclay’s Premier League are in the running of getting at least a silverware for 2008/09 trophy room. Man United with a chance of sweeping all 4 championships (League Cup, Premier League, FA Cup and European Champions League) and both Chelsea and Arsenal have the unlikely chance of doing the double (FA Cup and European Champions League).
Man United already have League Cup at least for this season. With just a few matches left for the season to end, Man Utd have the upper hand in retaining Premier League title. One point and one match in hand should be capitalized by Man United. However, with all still up for grab, Man United might having some trouble in maintaining their momentum. Since their win against Inter in the UEFA Champions League, their form dropped a little. Lose to Liverpool at home and away at Fulham, draw with Porto in the quarter final first leg and three wins on one goal difference sure made Man United fans unease with the progress. A win against Everton this Saturday certainly will add up three things – title dreams getting closer, a propabalitity of gaining the momentum and getting more pressure, physically and mentally. Should they succumb in any of the matches within the last few weeks of the season, they might ended up with just the League Cup. Why? There are three teams ready to pounce whenever the Red Devils cannot perform – Liverpool with their never say die attitude and both Arsenal and Chelsea with nothing to lose.
Since Liverpool has no more other championship to fight for the remainder of the season, certainly they will put their very best in every single match left, while hoping for Man United to drop points in either matches against Pompey, Spurs, Middlesborough, Wigan, Arsenal and Hull City. So, the teams like Arsenal, Hull City, Newcastle, West Ham, West Brom and Spurs, better get ready for a full Kop’s Force.
By looking at both remaining fixtures of the Red Devils and the Reds, three teams will have some say on both teams – Arsenal, Hull City and Spurs. Hull City has been performing well at the start of the season shall be fighting for Premier League survival for the last few weeks of the season. So, their will to survive will certainly giving hard times for both Man United and Liverpool. As for Arsenal and Spurs, what more can we say. The challange will always be there to entertain BPL fans.
Chelsea? With just 6 matches left, only 4 points difference from both Kop and Red Devils. As I said, if anything goes wrong with Man United, Chelsea is ready to pounce. With Man United and Liverpool having tough fights, Chelsea’s toughest challenge will come from Arsenal. Others? I should say it is unlikely Everton, West Ham, Fulham, Blackburn, and Sunderland to steal some points, unless of course what happened in their last two matches keep on happening until end of season. Chelsea conceeded 7 goals in two matches, which is considered unlikely to happen to big teams. Should Cech and the back 4 do not improve, any title will fade away in moments.
And this leaves me with my favourite team – Arsenal. Although I am a Gunners’ fan, I would say realistically that the only chance of having silverware will be FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. Barclays is out of reach. Arsenal may damage the top three teams’ morale should they win all three matches head to head with them, but I forsee unlikely that will happen. 10 points gap is hardly to be lessen, unless Man United, Liverpool and Chelsea slipped up badly.
As for now, with the reinforcements of key players such as Fabregas, Adebayor, and Walcott, Arsenal should have more ammo, speed and squad depths to cope with the remainder of the season. They have been “surviving” this season with young Gunners to sustain Arsenal’s challenge. For most of the 2008/09 season, Arsenal fans missed the action of Fabregas, Eduardo, Walcott and Tomas Rosicky, which forced Arsene Wenger to reinforce Arshavin in the middle of the season to boost Arsenal’s chances of getting European spot next season. With 8 points gap against Aston Villa, the Gunners should eye on getting FA Cup and UEFA Champions League while hoping miracle to happen for Barclays Premier League title. Who knows, Arsenal may get the title as what had happened last season. Chelsea and Man United were chasing from behind for most of the 2007/08 season, with Man United singing “Glory glory Man United”, grabbing two titles at the end of the season.
Question is, with the reinforcements of key players back from injuries, can Arsenal make it to the finals of FA Cup and UEFA Champions League?
p/s: Whatever the result Arsenal get this season, I still have faith in Arsene Wenger and the young Gunners. They are improving from time to time. Consider the average age for giant teams across Europe, Arsenal has done it in their own style.