Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Time For Wenger To Go ?????

Another fruitless season for the Gunners this year....
At present, they are nine points behind Manchester United in the Premier league, no domestic trophy as far as the F.A Cup and League Cup, having lost to Birmingham in the later of the two.
Knocked out of the Champions League, all be-it by Barcelona, probably the best club side for the last ten years at least, no shame there, but once again Arsene Wenger's team end up empty handed for the sixth season in a row......yes SIX seasons.

Cesc Fabregas was given a bit of a roasting after he suggested that if Wenger was in charge of any other top club in Europe, then he would not still be in charge after so many failed seasons, and I cannot disagree with Fabregas' comments on that.
If Wenger was in charge of Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid, A.C Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich......the list could go on, he simply wouldn't have lasted this many years without a single trophy.
Why is it then that the French thinker is still able to plod along with his team, playing wonderful football I agree but if that wins you nothing then is it worth playing that way ???
The main answer to Why ? and How ? is he still there is this, Arsene Wenger has NO-ONE to answer to. Yes he has to answer fans, through the media, and should be answering more on the pitch with victories in my opinion. But as far as owners, and the money men are concerned, there is not a single person he is answerable to, and this pretty much puts Arsene Wenger in charge of the entire club, and that can't be good for the future.

Yes he has single handedly taken Arsenal to the next level.
Yes he produced the first team to go unbeaten throughout a whole season, unbelievable.

Yes he nurtured such talents as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera to name a few.
Yes his side have finished in the top four consistently for a decade.

But if you look at the last six years, Arsenal have been, on average, a staggering 15 POINTS behind the eventual winners. With them being nine behind with four games left, this season isn't going to alter that to much either, so I think Wenger has taken the team as far as he can.
He is stubborn, and blind to the fact that the team HE has built, no-one else, HIS team just simply isn't good enough. Yes they have some outstanding talents but as a whole, they simply don't match up to a title winning side, and results can only prove that, facts do not lie, and the lack of trophies only highlight this further.
Now if Wenger was stubborn, stuck to his idea's and plans, as he has, and the team repaid his faith by winning something, then maybe no one could say anything, but as HIS way clearly hasn't worked, especially of late, I can only suggest he leaves, because no one has the authority to sack him do they???

So is he untouchable?? I think so, until the ownership of the club is sorted, with a single person taking the kind of control over the club which it badly needs, and no more so than now.

I have the up most respect for what he has done for the club, they are financially stable, within a couple more years they will be completely self sufficient and in total profit, he pushed through the plans for the stadium, he has introduced more grass route stuff at academy level, nurturing the young talent which has become Arsene Wenger's trademark now, I understand and believe that Arsenal Football Club most definitely wouldn't be the same if Wenger hadn't taken the job. BUT the time has come, he needs to let his good work be taken to the next level by a new manager, someone who will put their own stamp on the side, introducing something else to the Wenger mix, something that will take them to that next level that Arsene has been trying to get to.
Exactly who??? I don't know, really I don't, there are plenty of people out there though, perhaps someone like Martin O'Neill??? I really don't know, but what I do know is, that Arsenal have to move to the next level and I'm afraid that Arsene Wenger cannot take them there anymore......

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Title Race to be over tonight???

So after Manchester United's rivals faltered AGAIN at the weekend with Arsenal blowing an 8th minute of added on time lead, due to a crazy challenge in the box which enabled Dirk Kuyt to score from the spot in a thrilling game at the Emirates.
United were involved in a pretty drab, by their standards, F.A cup semi final against their local rivals City at Wembley. They eventually lost and now are only looking to complete the double. Their chances of doing so will grow ten-fold tonight if they can dispatch a resilient Newcastle side at St James' Park.
United go into the game six points clear thanks to Liverpool's late late late equaliser, and if they can notch another win tonight the title is almost certainly theirs, although in my opinion it has been theirs for months now.
With the ever influential Wayne Rooney returning for the league leaders after two games out due to his rant at West Ham, twin that with the fact they lost Saturday to their local rivals, I can't see anything else but a huge backlash for Newcastle to defend against.

Newcastle though have steadied the ship since Alan Pardew was appointed as manager, they have enjoyed some pretty decent form going into this game and won't fear the Red Devils, as they have managed to score a few goals of late despite the departure of Andy Carroll to Liverpool this January.
United have no shortage of goal-scoring outlets as they look to close in on their record breaking 19th title, one that which will see them overtake the Liverpool club in that tally. Although this season's title will maybe give Sir Alex Ferguson his biggest satisfaction, his team is not the type of team he has built over past seasons but they still have the knack of getting results without playing to well, which they haven't done at all this season, by their own high standards.
Saying that Ferguson's team are starting to hit form, eerily at the right time as they do so often late in the season, a reason they have won so many trophies, they simply never give up and always seem to do JUST enough.

Tonight I see the game being fairly tight, until United score, and as famously said, they ALWAYS score. With Rooney returning and no doubt desperate to prove a point, add that to the fact he was missing for the cup exit, I'm sure he'll have a lot to say in the game this evening. The team as a whole will be looking for a win to exert their frustrations of being knocked out the elite domestic competition, and no-one would bet against them getting it tonight to confirm their intentions of breaking Liverpool's record, which of course will bring great joy to anyone connected with Manchester United, none more so than Sir Alex himself.
Once United score, I can see Newcastle struggling to keep it to one, they will have to attack, even if it is just a little bit, this will inevitably play into the hands of United and in turn they will get more chances as the game opens up. So I predict a 1-3, United to ease past Newcastle and if they do win, I think it confirms them as Champions......

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Is Ancelotti To Blame???

I ask you, the public, who is to blame for Chelsea's poor season?
I have heard many conversations from many different sources, and the three names that always come up are Carlo Ancelotti, Roman Abramovich and bizarrely Fernando Torres??!!!
Now, as a football fan, and someone who has played the game, I can make a case for each of the first two in that shortlist, but not for the Spanish striker.
Fernando Torres is a world class striker, no discussion, yes he is way out of form, yes he hasn't reached his own high standards for a season or so, but a player of that calibre doesn't become a bad player overnight, the instinct doesn't disappear, the goal scoring knack doesn't dissipate, so why hasn't he got off of the mark for his new club following his £50 million move from Liverpool??
Well, here's what I think. Liverpool had the likes of Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard who when they received the ball, instantly they looked for the run of Torres, trying to put him in behind the defense and release him as early as possible. Whereas at Chelsea, they do not play that way, with the midfield players such as Lampard and Essien the ball gets worked wide, using the two attacking players that play on the wings along side Drogba. This then gives Lampard and Essien the opportunity to make runs into the box and in return they get their goals as we are all aware that Lampard does on a very regular basis.
I have watched Torres for Chelsea and as soon as a midfielder receives the ball he is still looking for the quick release, but it never comes, because the rest of the team are not used to playing that way. The more patient build up is what they are used to and have had alot a success with so why should they change???
I thought the signing of Torres would give Drogba the kick up the ass he needed as I felt he has been coasting this season, rather than feeling his place in the team was threatened in any capacity. But what has materialised is that he clearly feels disgruntled and doesn't want to play with the new £50 million man.
As a result the manager is then put in a predicament, does he stick to his guns and play HIS team, an approach that won them the double just last season?? Stick with Drogba, Malouda and Anelka and leave the new addition on the bench?? Or does he play Torres and risk people slating him for the lack of form and goals of the front man?? Needless to say I think Torres is in no way responsible for the poor finish to the season, of course if he had hit the ground running and got off the mark in his first game the situation may well be different, but Chelsea fans will see the best of Torres next season, when he and the team have a pre-season to build around him, because at £50 million, that's the kind of player you HAVE to build the team around.

Next person into the dock is Abramovich.The enigmatic owner, the billionaire who likes to get involved with the footballing side of things.....straight away this is a lose lose situation. This was one of the big reasons we now no longer have 'the Special One' in the English game.
When you are a business man who has succeeded like the Russian, you do have the right to be involved as much as you want, but only when your opinion is valid, and in the footballing arena it is not.
I believe that Torres was HIS signing, not Ancelotti's, this puts immediate pressure on the manager. If he rolls over and plays Torres, even though he is clearly out of sorts, and Torres doesn't perform/score, and he has to bring him off, he gets daggers from the owner. If he leaves him on and he still doesn't perform, it looks even worse, if he brings him off and Drogba comes on and puts in a performance like he did against Manchester United Tuesday night, it must feel good from a managers point of view, if, Torres wasn't his signing. If Ancelotti did want Torres then why does he look so confused and much like a man banging his head against a brick wall during games??
Ancelotti looks like he'll be given his marching orders at the end of a fruitless campaign, so is the Russian roulette working? Er..no. You can't keep changing managers and expect to stay one of Europe's big teams, there is no sense in it at all. Ancelotti delivered the double last season, so surely he deserves time???

Last but by no means least is Ancelotti himself, the Italian as i said delivered the double to Stamford Bridge last year, his team flew out of the blocks at the beginning of the season winning I think it was eight out of eight in the opening couple of months, and in doing so scoring plenty of goals. With the start they had, many people had already crowned them champions again come the end of September, me for one of those.
Every team has a bad spell and Chelsea's was disastrous, and in that bad spell they lost alot of ground in the title race and even slumped to sixth. Cue the panic buy of Torres, now whoever signed him, he will be a star for them, but for a January but I was never convinced it would change their fortunes in the league, maybe so in the Champions League but not domestically. They managed to pluck David Luiz from abroad and he certainly added something they were missing, but Torres was always going to create more problems than solutions for the rest of the season.

So in my opinion, I blame Abramovich and Ancelotti. The Russian for interfering with football matters no matter how trivial, and Ancelotti for not having the balls to stand up for what he believes in. Ancelotti wasn't happy about the sacking of Ray Wilkins earlier in the season, he should have issued Abramovich an ultimatum over that, and again over NOT playing Torres against Manchester United in the second leg, he should have told Roman that he wanted to play Drogba and leave the mis-firing Torres on the bench, and if he didn't like it then resign. They are massive decisions but one's I think the manager should have made, or at least in some part. Because come the end of May he will not be getting any sympathy or thanks from the Russian owner I can tell you.

Who do you blame?? Tell me if I am wrong.......please do

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Harry Houdini????

Is it a possibility?? Can Spurs dream?? Are Real the REAL deal??
All questions will be answered by 9.35ish this evening that's for sure.

Sorry to sound a bit Rafael Benitez here but these are the facts:
  • No team has ever overturned a four goal lead in the Champions League.
  • Harry Rednapp has NEVER beaten a Jose Mourinho side.
  • Tottenham have NEVER scored a single goal against Real Madrid.
So have Spurs got any good news going into this gargantuan fixture with a seemingly impossible task of turning over a four goal deficit against the Spanish giants????
Honestly.......not really.
But as an optimist I will try to give Tottenham fans some hope......

Two years ago Real Madrid travelled to Anfield to face Liverpool in the last 16 of the competition, the Spanish team did on that occasion trail the English side by an away goal BUT they disintegrated under severe pressure of the sheer speed of the attacking Liverpool side. The speed which is an earmark of the English game which very few foreign teams simply cannot live with, hence the English dominance in European competitions.
Liverpool proceeded to trounce the Madrid side 4-0 in the home leg and running out 5-0 winners on aggregate. On that night Real Madrid literally fell apart and Liverpool took their chances and were deserved winners. Real were simply outclassed in every department, the Spanish side do not normally travel well so why can't Tottenham put in a similar performance tonight? The scoreline would certainly be enough if they could.
The problem Spurs will have is scoring four, or more, without Madrid notching at the other end. Mourinho has already warned Tottenham that will have to get SIX if they want to progress and I for one can't disagree with that. If Madrid score then they will need six, and that is almost un-do-able.

The difference from the Madrid side from two years ago is simple, this is not a Real Madrid side, this is a Jose Mourinho Real Madrid side, and for that reason and that reason only I have to say Spurs have come to the end of their European adventure, an adventure in which they have breathed a huge amount of life and alternative football into this competition and they certainly haven't let anyone down this year.
Harry is a supreme manager and of course they will give it a go, if they can get an early-ish goal, maybe a second before half time then it really could be interesting, but I feel they will either run out of time, or they themselves concede early on.
On the basis of all of the above, I am going to predict a 3-1 scoreline tonight, Spurs will have to give it a go, but Real will score if Tottenham get three, but overall a good effort from the only London side left in the competition........for now.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Carroll notches......at the double...

If the departed El Nino aka Fernando Torres is worth 50 million pounds then the zero's that must be either printed on the fibrous fabric of English pound notes, or the pixelated zero's on a computerised pay cheque with regards to both of Torres' replacements at Anfield.
Both Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez put in performances last night, that EVERY Liverpool supporter would loved to have seen come from the previous number nine. But since 'FT's' departure, ( FT is what many red's fans now call Torres as they can't bring themselves top say his name) the two men that were bought with the proceeds of his sale, have both significantly overshadowed the Spaniard with both quality and more noticeably work rate.

We all know the non-stop ethics of Dirk Kuyt, but in Luis Suarez you get the work that Kuyt puts in, twinned with extreme talent and a directness of movement that Liverpool have missed since the enigmatic Robbie Fowler left Anfield for pastures new.
Carroll, still fighting for match fitness after his long lay off also put in a brilliant 90minute performance, working hard and shutting down defenders, winning headers and giving Liverpool a longer option when needed from the back.
He was rewarded for his work with two sublime finishes from very different aspects of his armoury. The first was a crashing strike from twenty yards out after he himself had won back possession, the ball was picked up by Meireles who lined up a very speculative shot from forty-odd yards which bounced back off of a City defender and in front of Carroll, he proceeded to smash a shot first time with the instep which flew passed Hart in between the sticks.

Man City rallied for a bit but only really threatened through Adam Johnson on the right hand side, he had a couple of runs but none had the finishing touch the endeavour deserved, and this was the entire match as City looked pretty toothless all night and never troubled Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal.
Liverpool doubled their lead through the tireless Kuyt, he dispatched a beautifully placed side foot shot after a pretty scrappy minute or so where the ball bounced and bobbled in the City area before ball finally broke to Kuyt and he finished with a strike right out of the top drawer and Liverpool deserved their two goal lead.
Ninety seconds later and the game was killed off, Meireles picked the ball up out wide on the left, he cut back inside and delivered an inviting ball into the box with only Carroll to aim at, and that was all there needed to be as Carroll outfought Kolarov to flick an inch perfect header just inside Hart's far post and the Red's were giving the Kop something to cheer about.
Maybe it was Mancini's selection? I don't think so, the team spoke for itself, there was plenty in there to get a result they would have been hoping for, City were just so poor, only Johnson showed any kind of quality until David Silva was put on in the second half, but by then the rest of his team mates had already given up.
Suarez continued to find holes left right and centre, pulling the defense around on his own and there were definitely promising signs of the partnership between the two red's front men, exciting times for Liverpool ahead I can say, if last night was anything to go by.

Tonight see's the battle of Britain take centre stage again, Manchester United take their away goal back to Old Trafford and welcome Chelsea in the second leg of the Champions League Quarter Final.
I can't see the Blue's doing enough at the Theatre of Dreams but stranger things have happened and Chelsea certainly have the firepower, surely Torres must get on the score sheet sooner rather than later and I wouldn't put it passed him to net here, but I think United will score and I am going to plump for a 1-1 draw........

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Battle of Britain Commences.....

Tonight see's Premier League leaders Manchester United travel to Chelsea in the Champions League Quarter finals, having watched England's other hope, Spurs, taken apart by Real Madrid in last nights game, despite only having ten men for 85minutes.
First I'll quickly re-cap on last nights game, AAron Lennon was about to take to the field in 'His biggest game of his life' and for whatever reason, which has not come to light as yet, he failed to take the field, this was a huge setback to Tottenham before they had even kicked a ball. This was underlined four minutes in when Adebayor, formerly of Spurs' rivals Arsenal headed the Madrid giants ahead, questions were already being asked, and I was certainly one of them asking.....what the fuck was Jenas doing marking such an obvious aerial threat???!!!
Unfortunately for Tottenham, the question was answered as Modric failed to stop the ball on the line and they trailed with only a few moments having passed.
Then, to the bemusement of every English, let alone Spurs fan, the pivotal Peter Crouch made two challenges that he wouldn't make in an entire season, let alone in the space of minutes, and as a result saw red and really put his team mates at the bottom of Mount Everest.
I had earmarked Crouch yesterday as the most important feature of the Tottenham side going into this game and he definitely made an impact, but not for the right reasons here and immediately I feared the worse for Spurs as Xabi Alonso was now left as the 'extra man' and he was already purring.
Tottenham battled to stay in the contest but with a man down for such a long period the outcome was a forgone conclusion, just a matter of how many.
Real proceeded to unearth Tottenham's defensive frailties and Adebayor netted again after a pin point cross from Marcello, there was plenty to do as he had no pace on the cross to work any pace on the header, but he managed to wind up his neck muscles and dispatch a sublime header past Gomes in the English side's goal.
The writing was firmly on the wall and damage limitation was top of the order if Spurs were to have any hope in the return leg.

Two more goals followed, as Di Maria unleashed an unstoppable strike which even if Spurs had Gordon Banks, David Seaman and indeed Gomes himself between the sticks it still would have hit the net.
Ronaldo squirmed one under Gomes and the task is now gargantuan, IF Spurs had got an away goal, which they didn't, they might have had a chance, but unfortunately I can't see them getting the four goals without a response from Real, sorry Spurs fans but the big man needs to apologise for his madness, because it cost you, big time....

Tonight, where can I begin, United ALWAYS score don't they??!! I believe they will tonight, and Sir Alex will be pleased if they do, Chelsea, selection problems with who out of the £100 million strike force should they play??? What a dilemma?!! Personally, I think all three of them should play, Drogba, Anelka and the new boy Torres, and why not? They are all World class so why can't hey play together??!!
Drogba causes problems, Anelka gets goals and doesn't get the credit, and Torres MUST score sooner rather than later, and he loves getting goals against United.
Rooney amidst the controversy will put in a good shift and hopefully as a spectator, Berbatov will be his partner, and this is clearly a dangerous proposition. United will be more than happy with an away goal, so my prediction here will be 2-1 Chelsea, giving United the upper hand in my opinion, but as I showed yesterday, what does my opinion mean, very little as Mr Crouch engulfed himself in a ten minutes of madness, but we shall see on this one.....

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Crunch Time For Spurs......

Yes the Champions league returns for the Quarter Final stage this evening with the first of the English contingent in the shape of Tottenham travelling to Spain to take on Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid side.
The 'Special One' saw his own personal nine year unbeaten home record taken away from him at the weekend against minnows Sporting Gijon leaving his side eight points adrift of the mighty Barcelona at the top of their domestic league, and no doubt leaving the 'Galactico's' looking for a result here to heighten the spirits and push them towards a major piece of silverware this season.
Spurs on the other hand also lost ground in their domestic league with a drab performance against lowly Wigan at the weekend. Harry will definitely be looking for a result to also raise the pulse in this mouth-watering fixture as Spur's continue their fairytale first season in Europe's elite competition.
So many factors will be important tonight and indeed in the second leg at White Hart Lane, none more than the performance of one Peter Crouch.

Maybe a tad surprising to see that name up there amongst the talent on show in the forms of Bale, Van Der Vart, Lennon, Ronaldo, Alonso, Ozil etc to name but a few, but in my opinion that man, all 6ft 7" of him, will be crucial IF Tottenham are to progress. Why I here you ask?? Well, although he is not prolific in the air, he will cause the Real back four extreme trouble with just dealing with the threat of him, a huge target man, superb with his feet, great finisher, and very intelligent in bringing others into play, he will be the difference, mark my words.
Foreign teams do not come up against players like Crouch on a month or yearly basis, let alone two games in quick succession. Players that automatically cause problems for defenders not matter how involved they are, just the shear threat is enough to have the desired effect.
Crouch got the winner in the last round, away against A C Milan, and put in a lone striking performance that ranked very high on the list as far as big man up front goes. A similar showing this evening will help no-end in getting Spurs a result they can build on in the second leg and for me ultimately go through past Madrid.
This being the first season in the competition, Tottenham have had the 'unknown' factor thus far and it has helped them greatly, against Madrid on the other hand they will see many familiar faces, not only Mourinho, but obviously the much loved Ronaldo, Alonso, Carvalho all spent time in the English league and will know a bit more about what Tottenham are in regards to the setup and execution, and that is where Harry needs to pull his strings.

It can't be hidden the impact Harry has on his current squad of players, with his undoubted man management skills, I'm sure he will have the blue prints in his mind.
Keep Ozil quiet will be high on the list here, as the front players come alive as soon as he gets on the ball, Benzema, who will be missing is the most noticeable one for this but with Higuain likely to step into his shoes the threat is by no means less. Ronaldo speaks for himself but in the big games he generally is either unstoppable or just plain frustrating, Spurs will be hoping for the later.
I think Tottenham will give a good account of themselves, I think they'll play it tight for twenty Min's or so then try to impose themselves on the men in white.
My prediction for this one is a 2-1 victory for Madrid, this may look bad news for Spurs but as they showed in Milan, the away goal is CRUCIAL, and if they do get one, then the second leg down at the Lane will be very very interesting indeed......

Monday, 4 April 2011

Game over.....

Yes I am afraid so people, the weekends results signalled the end for the chasing pack in regards to the Premiership crown as it started its familiar journey up towards Manchester to settle down in the showroom of 'The Theatre Of Dreams' once again......
The results in the latest round of games showed exactly why the Red Devils have won so many title's, and this seasons one won't be won in the same vein as the previous one's under the scrutiny of Sir Alex. This years crop of United players seem to have the grit and not for the want of a better word a scrappy disposition for grinding out unlikely results.
We all know that all Ferguson teams are famed for late goals and this season is no different with Hernandez getting the majority of the late shows, but the team that Alex has assembled this year seem a lot more dogged and determined, this is maybe to lack of sheer class in the ranks which the United teams of the past boasted in abundance?
Of course the quality still remains, with Rooney, Scholes, and the sublime but frustrating Berbatov, but aside from these the pickings are slim in comparison to years gone by.
This seasons title race has been anything but straight forward with no team taking it by the horns, it seemed that every time one side involved slipped up and dropped points, then the chasing teams duly obliged the same fate. But with games running out I can only see the silverware heading back to Old Trafford come May.
This weekend further enhanced the fact that no team actually wants to win it, having watched United clamber back from two goals down against West Ham, the challenge was set for Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City to keep the pressure on......only City managing to notch a win out of the rest of the 'challengers', and ever their win only bought them to within a huge ten points of their rivals, surely to far with only seven games to go.

Arsenal the only real threat, as they have been most of the season drew a blank yet again as Blackburn held firm at the Emirates. As the game rode on, the home side seemed to diminish, whether it was the belief or physical I don't know but after an opening twenty minutes where the Gunners looked like they would run out comfortable winners, they seemed to run out of ideas and enthusiasm for the fight.

Chelsea went to Stoke with the mis-firing £50 million pound Fernando Torres only making the bench, back to the old routine looked likely but the Stoke side really were the better side for the majority of the game with Petr Cech making some great saves to win a point for the Blues.
Tottenham travelled to struggling Wigan, normally I watch Spurs and see them miss hatfull's of chances but in this game they never got going at all, whereas the home side threatened most of the game and Tottenham had Gomes to thank for saving them a point.

City hosted Sunderland who were on a torrid run of results and from early on it was evident why, the poor visitors were duly punished for the lack lustre nature they approached the game in, City hit five without reply, but this was by no means a five star performance for me, they just took their chances and made Sunderland look poor, as they undoubtedly were.
Before the games kicked off I predicted to have no further insight into the eventual winners of the league, but as it has turned out I think the League winners became more evident as they put in a second half performance that shows why they will win it, all being over shadowed by the 'ignorant' Rooney as he unleashed a barrage of abuse into the Sky Sports camera's after netting his and United's third.
He took a whole load of abuse himself throughout but even so, this kind of behaviour shouldn't have a place in football no matter the circumstances, but we are all human after all and Rooney instantly noted his fault by way of an apology to the fans and viewers after the game.
So unfortunately I feel I am forced to say that the season ending will see Manchester United notch up their 19th title, finally taking over their fierce rivals Liverpool in that tally.
The winning of the league for this year may give Alex Ferguson the inspiration to continue for a few more years perhaps??????

Friday, 1 April 2011

Rejoice as the Premier League returns.....

YES! The Premier league returns this week as the few final furlongs approach before we crown the season's Champions and Losers!!!!
League leaders Manchester United travel to London to face a re-juvinated West Ham. A four-game unbeaten run has seen Avram Grant's team climb out of the relegation zone on goal difference. But they are still only two points off the bottom of the table and Grant will be desperate for inspirational midfielder Scott Parker to be fit and repeat his performance from England's win over Wales. My prediction here, narrow 2-1 win for the league leaders.
If United are successful, closest rivals Arsenal could begin their match against Blackburn eight points behind Ferguson's men and under big pressure. Wenger praised the character of his squad after they battled back to a 2-2 draw at West Brom in their last match, but it was two points lost as far as the Arsenal faithful were concerned. Blackburn sit one point off relegation so they will want to put in a performance to underline their intent to stay in the top flight. I can see this one being a home win, also by narrow margin, I'll plump for a 2-0 Arsenal victory.

Roy Hodgson will be reacquainted with Liverpool when West Brom play hosts at The Hawthorns. It will be the first time the former manager of the Anfield club meets his ex-employers since he was sacked in January just six months into the job. Hodgson's time as Liverpool boss was hugely disappointing and Kenny Dalglish has since made a good start in the task of rebuilding fortunes to ensure that fifth place is not yet out of reach. But, despite an insistence that he has nothing to prove, Hodgson is expected to provide stern opposition, as, four matches into his quest to save West Brom from relegation, he remains unbeaten. Given the Baggies good hame record this looks a tough task for the visitors, but saying that, I feel Andy Carroll is gaining fitness and will be inspired by his classy finish in Englands friendly with Ghana, and I believe this may give them the edge. My Choice is 3-1 to the Red's.
Roberto Martinez insists his Wigan side will continue to fight in what is proving an incredibly close scrap to survive in the Premier League and they could be quietly confident when Tottenham arrive at the DW Stadium. They stunned Spurs at White Hart Lane earlier in the season and, with Harry Redknapp's top-five team possibly distracted by next week's UEFA Champions League first leg against Real Madrid, Martinez will be plotting another upset. I can't see Harry letting his team take the eye off to much, 2-0 Spurs here for me.
Defending champions Chelsea have still to give up hope of retaining their title and a deserved victory over Champions League hopefuls Manchester City last time out means Carlo Ancelotti's men are nine points behind United with a game in hand. A win from a difficult trip to Stoke is a must, but Tony Pulis' hosts are still to reach the 40-point mark this season, which will be the minimum required to avoid the drop. It remains to be seen if Ancelotti keeps faith in misfiring £50million man Fernando Torres, who in my opinion can't go without scoring for much longer, and therefore i see him notching in this, 1-2 Chelsea.

Roberto Mancini's future hangs on the reality of Manchester City's pursuit of a place in the Champions League. The club currently sit in fourth position, but Tottenham are chasing and it appears that there could be another end-of-season showdown between the two teams. Mancini will know that it will be essential to take three points from Sunderland especially being at home, but Steve Bruce will be demanding a response after the disappointing defeat to Liverpool last time out. Sunderland's Ghanaian contingent are expected to continue a battle from the midweek friendly against England, and James Milner and Joleon Lescott in particular. Gyan was impressive against England and I think he could cause City some real problems here, if City set out as they have in many games and sit tight I can see Sunderland nicking a point, 1-1.

Yes there are a few other games and a lot of things still to be decided, one remaining question is, Who is going to take control of the fight for the championship? And even bigger question is when???? Because we have been waiting all season for someone to grasp it with both hands and not a slippery hand!!!!