January 04, 2006

Man U and Arsenal managers give up on title.: After the former champions fought to an 0-0 draw yesterday, Arsenal (who went a whole season undefeated just two seasons ago) manager Wenger said: "The players were less nervous because we are not going for the title - we cannot compete with Chelsea." Utd manager Ferguson said: "Chelsea's consistency is beyond us." Man Utd (2nd) and Arsenal (6th) are 13 and 24 pts behind Chelsea. It's only halfway through the season, with 17 more rounds to go.

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 08:49 AM - 31 comments

Liverpool (3rd) have two matches in hand, which, even if they win both, would put them 11 pts behind Chelsea. Wonder if Benitez has given up, too? At this point, given the current form of all teams, I have a few questions... 1. How soon will Chelsea sew up the EPL? 2. Who's no. 2, 3 and most importantly, 4? 3. Will it take another Russian billionaire to match Chelsea?

posted by worldcup2002 at 08:55 AM on January 04, 2006

I'm a newbie when it comes to following the EPL, but it seems to me that pessimism is much higher in this sport than American pro leagues. When an underdog falls down 1-0 in a match, the announcers make it sound as if the game's over and they're just going through the motions, even in the first half. I can't tell if it's really a concession of defeat or just droll British humor.

posted by rcade at 09:07 AM on January 04, 2006

It seems the only excitement left in the EPL is who finishes second and whether Arsenal can catch Tottenham for the final Champions League spot. The positive side, though, is that because the EPL has no many local and regional derbys there's always at least two or three high quality matches each game day.

posted by Boot at 09:51 AM on January 04, 2006

Liverpool have Chelsea right where they want them. [/straight face] Being serious for a moment - Chelsea will win, obviously. Liverpool will be second, nine points behind. Man Utd will be third (5 points behind Liverpool) and Spurs will pick up the fourth spot. Arsenal couldn't catch a cold at the moment. Oh yeah, and Liverpool will retain the Champion's League title.

posted by JJ at 09:57 AM on January 04, 2006

Arsenal's only hope this year is to pull a Liverpool in the Champion's Leage [/straight face] Actually, they've looked much better in Europe than in the leage (talk about a switch from the usual). Chelsea pretty much has mathematically eliminated Everyone but Liverpool, barring a choke of gigantic proportions. I still think Arsenal will sneak into the fourth slot, despite their horrid form at the moment. I mean, it's Wigan and Spurs ahead of them for goodness sake.

posted by trox at 10:00 AM on January 04, 2006

first question: why so many 'gameweeks' around the holidays? second question: what the fuck is a 'derby'? They may retain the CL title, but there is no way to match what they did last year.

posted by garfield at 10:01 AM on January 04, 2006

second question: what the fuck is a 'derby'? ... when 2 clubs from the same town play.... ie. Man U - Man City; Chelsea- Arsenal; Cubs-White Sox, etc....

posted by mateo71 at 10:07 AM on January 04, 2006

That's a better term than what we Yanks use. (Hey what term do we Yanks use? Mhm. I didn't think so.) That attitude is kind of an alien one as well, especially coming from the top teams in the Premier League. Chelsea might have lapped the field, but it's not like Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham & Man U stink. (Given their payroll numbers, they damn well better not.) Whatever happened to quaint and trite Americanisms like "winners never quit and quitters never win?" Is it just that the regular season championship means so much more in England than than in the States?

posted by chicobangs at 10:18 AM on January 04, 2006

JJ, you must be out of your mind...... Chelsea Man U liverpool Totenham, no english team will win the CL

posted by acesrt132 at 10:20 AM on January 04, 2006

A "derby" is a match between local teams, a grudge match of sorts. Arsenal and Chelsea play a "London Derby." I've been watching too much EPL...the venacular is slowly inching its way into my everday usage. Also, I don't think Arsenal will catch Tottenham. Arsenal just doesn't have the same spark this year as in years past.

posted by Boot at 10:27 AM on January 04, 2006

I thought I recalled a story where one of the bookmakers paid out on Chelsea bets already ... here it is. Paddy's Power paid out those bets way back at the end of September. "We know and the punters know the Premiership race is already over so the winnings are better off back in people's pockets." And now Ferguson and Wenger know it too.

posted by Amateur at 11:15 AM on January 04, 2006

I'm a newbie when it comes to following the EPL, but it seems to me that pessimism is much higher in this sport than American pro leagues. When an underdog falls down 1-0 in a match, the announcers make it sound as if the game's over and they're just going through the motions, even in the first half. I can't tell if it's really a concession of defeat or just droll British humor. Very perceptive, rcade. It is definitely a concession of defeat and something very foreign to sports fans here stateside. An interesting sidenote may be that once Brits play their game on these shores and are coached by an American, optimism rubs off and they start to believe. I know this firsthand hand from being that American coach and telling my guys (almost all Brits) that being down 2-0 at the half does not mean the game is over and we have every chance of winning the game. This happened to my team on more than one occassion and we overturned the deficit consistently. In 3 seasons, we won our division twice and were promoted 3 times, coming from behind on several occassions in games and in the league standings. There was nothing magical in the words I used to motivate; fight for every blade of grass and don't give in until the final whistle. We weren't the most athletic or the most skilled, but no team worked harder or had greater belief. That being said... ...in the EPL, Chelsea are simply too strong and too deep for anyone too catch them. Even if they suffer major injuries to key players they won't skip a beat and will keep on rolling. I see the table finishing like this: Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal. No great stretch of prediction abilities there.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 02:00 PM on January 04, 2006

You must have coached Liverpool Texan, Idon't understand how people can say that they have given up... There are plenty of teams that come from behind to win week i week out. People need to start watching more than one game before they start passing judgement on the greatest league, of all sports.

posted by acesrt132 at 02:07 PM on January 04, 2006

Where international football is concerned, you're not going to find a more receptive American-based sports site than this one. Footie fans found this site for the last World Cup and it's been one of the most popular subjects of discussion ever since. I like the way Liverpool plays. And they look like the Red Wings in short pants.

posted by rcade at 02:17 PM on January 04, 2006

don't you mean "hotpants", you scallawag?

posted by garfield at 02:59 PM on January 04, 2006

I know what your saying about Chelsea, Texan. But, a coach should never say that a team has no chance of winning a title halfway through the season unless it truely is mathematically impossible. Even if Southern Cal is playing Bucknell or Rice, the coach isn't going to say "Hey guys, we know we're going to lose, let's just try to hold them below 70 ok. Now, let's go out there and lose one for the Gipper." sidenote: (I know I was copying Brian's song)

posted by garnet&blackattack at 03:31 PM on January 04, 2006

The good thing about being a fan of English football is that even if the title race is sewn up mathematically by Easter, there's always the FA Cup, and the relegation promotion battles going on lower down. Unless you're a fan of Derby County, in which case we'll be out of the Cup next week in the third round and spending the remainder of the season accumulating draws on our way into lower-mid table oblivion in the so-called 'Championship'. There. Is that enough pessimism for you Americanos?

posted by owlhouse at 03:45 PM on January 04, 2006

I find myself following Liverpool for two reasons: One, that finals comeback last year, and their general never-say-die attitude when I've seen them in the Club Championships and in games like the Bolton match this week. Not a lot of quit in them, which is always a nice thing in any team you're considering. (The other reason? Well, Elvis Costello. For someone with no other natural affiliation, I gotta admit that's an enticement.) Liverpool is winning me over despite the fact that they look like the Red Wings in, erm, short pants.

posted by chicobangs at 03:53 PM on January 04, 2006

somebody didn't like my derby question. i even got an email about it. how thoughtful.

posted by garfield at 04:17 PM on January 04, 2006

You must have coached Liverpool Texan, Idon't understand how people can say that they have given up Ok, I don't even understand this comment. Apparently I'm wearing the thick hat today and need an explanation. And Boot, you're right that Arsenal and Chelsea play "a" London derby, but not "the" London Derby. The big London Derby is Arsenal-Spurs.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 04:38 PM on January 04, 2006

I thought Arsenal played in Highbury...

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:39 PM on January 04, 2006

OK, let me set youze guys straight: 1. derby (for the third time) is a local, hometown derby: Liverpool v Everton is a derby in the city of Liverpool. London derbies could be any game between West Ham, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, Charlton (and any other lower division teams I'm not aware of)... and on and on. 2. Ying Yang: Arsenal do play at Highbury but just for this season. After that, they move to their new stadium at Ashton Downs (or something poofy like that) and Highbury gets converted into a condo complex with shops and offices (or something poofy like that). 3. Texan: aces's "You musta coached Liverpool" comment refers to the never-say-die Liverpool exemplified in their CL champs win and their play this season. I'm a Liverpool fan, so I sure hope so. ;-) Nuff said!

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:07 PM on January 04, 2006

derby (for the third time) is a local, hometown derby True enough, wc2k2. But to further complicate things, a derby can also be a match with your closest geographic rivals, whether they are in the same city or not. Examples: The north east derby between Newcastle and Sunderland The East Anglian derby between Norwich and Ipswich The south coast derby between Portsmouth and Southampton The east midlands derby between Derby and Nottingham F*****t And there are countless many more in all divisions.

posted by owlhouse at 06:11 PM on January 04, 2006

Yeah, I forgot to mention Tranmere Rovers and Fulham. just kidding.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:39 PM on January 04, 2006

Highbury is Arsenal's soon-to-be-demolished stadium in London. Just like Anfield is Liverpool's home in, well, Liverpool.

posted by billsaysthis at 09:55 PM on January 04, 2006

chelsea maybe on top right now but the only team that has beaten 'em is MAN U. as for not catchin' up to chelsea yet? well, chelsea has been getting by just one goal in most games lately. n' the second time these two meet, chelsea will go down again. it's only a matter of time 'fore they draw a few if not lose to another team other than MAN U. n' that's all i have got to say, cheers --

posted by LA man at 10:17 PM on January 04, 2006

chelsea has been getting by just one goal in most games lately Where I come from, one goal's usually enough. Indeed, far from being a 'glamour' club, as he showed at Porto, Mourinho's got them grinding out 1-0 wins. This demonstrates just how good Chelsea are. Good tactically, that is. You don't buy stankhovites like Makelele and Essien because you like Fancy Dan passing and mazy dribbling. /stands back and watches as the dictionaries are opened to 'S'.

posted by owlhouse at 02:04 AM on January 05, 2006

Chelsea may not be the flashiest club out there but a win is still three points in the column... not that anybody is debating this point, but still... Reiteration never hurt anybody. You stop with yer fancy werds and yer edukaytiun.

posted by igottheblues at 03:24 AM on January 05, 2006

Of course the other teams have given up - even if Liverpool win both of their games in hand (and thereby go second), they will trail by nine points. Thus, even were Liverpool to then win ALL of their remaining 17 games, they would need Chelsea to drop at least 10 points (or 9 points and rely on superior goal difference) to win. Given that Chelsea have dropped only half that many points in the first 21 games of the season, it seems highly unlikely that they will oblige their would-be chasers by collapsing. It's one thing to come from behind in a game where you can impose your will on the other team, but there's not much to be done when you're relying on other teams to beat the team you're chasing. I don't see it as pessimistic, I see it as realistic. The whole purpose of a league is to remove the element of luck and minimise the impact of freak results (over the course of a season, these things tend to even out) in order to find the best team. Much as it sickens me to say it, that team is clearly Chelsea at the moment. But who knows? The best thing about sport is that there is no script and often logic and good sense go out the window. Chelsea will win the league, but I'll take enormous pleasure in eating those words this summer if Liverpool somehow manage to stop them.

posted by JJ at 04:06 AM on January 05, 2006

JJ nailed it - it's realism not pessimism. No one will catch Chelsea this season. Time to concentrate on the European places and the relegation battle in the Premiership and the promotion and relegation battles in the lower leagues.

posted by squealy at 10:48 AM on January 05, 2006

Wonder how Portsmouth's cash infusion will change things down at the bottom. I read they have a GBP20M budget for this month, which should get them enough to stay up, and then more in the summer. Will they be the next Bolton (if Bolton were built through cash rather than Sam Allardyce)?

posted by billsaysthis at 03:19 PM on January 05, 2006

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