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February 1, 2010

Two horse race in England and Spain?

Well, after this weekend’s enthralling set of fixtures in the Premier League it’s certainly beginning to look that way. You could easily make a claim that if Arsenal don’t win at Stamford Bridge next Sunday then their chances of capturing the title will be well and truly gone.

A couple of months ago, Arsenal were emphatically beaten 3 – 0 at the Emirates by Chelsea and, although they managed a late consolation goal this Sunday through Vermaelen, they were just as comprehensively outplayed by a Manchester United team in scintillating form. Wayne Rooney, of course, led the way and scored his customary goal – 20 this season and 100 Premier goals in total now. The whole team, though, looked a little like Federers against Murrays – the gap was that big. An Almunía own goal after superb play from Nani and a Ji-Sung Park goal after a run from his own half didn’t come close to illustrating the difference between the sides.

The victory wasn’t enough to regain the top spot for the Old Trafford side, however. Chelsea successfully came through their match at Burnley with a late winner from John Terry. Anelka had kept his impressive run going with the Blues’ first strike. Chelsea have an away fixture at Hull during the week which could take them to 8 points ahead of third placed Arsenal.

The battle for fourth place is really developing now. Spurs kept the position despite losing an injury time equaliser to a battling Birmingham side at St Andrews. After looking in command throughout the game, Spurs had only a Defoe goal to show before Ridgewell’s late leveller. Liverpool and Manchester City both had comfortable 2 – 0 home success against Bolton and Portsmouth respectively and Aston Villa had the same scoreline away at Fulham – Agbonlahor with a brace – so Tottenahm’s habit of conceding late goals could prove costly. This is going to be a prolonged and fascinating tussle for that fourth Champions’ League place.

Elsewhere, Everton kept up their good run thanks to a late Tim Cahill header at Wigan, West Ham and Blackburn remained goalless and Wolves probably enjoyed the point from a 2 – 2 draw at Hull rather more than the home side.

At the top of the table, then Chelsea have 54 points from 23 games, Manchester United 53 (24), Arsenal 49 (24), Spurs 42 (24), Liverpool 41 (24), Manchester City 41 (22) and Aston Villa 40 (23). Burnley, Hull and increasingly impoverished Portsmouth sit at the bottom.

La Liga

The best weekend performance in La Liga definitely came from Real Madrid with their 3 – 1 success at Deportivo. At a venue where they have always struggled – and without the suspended Ronaldo – Real brought back Raul to the starting line-up. It was the almost forgotten Benzema who stole the headlines, though, with two goals.

Barelona starlet Pedro added to his increasing reputation – and perhaps a spot in the Spanish World Cup squad – with the only goal of a fairly tepid match at Sporting; after replacing Henry in the starting eleven, the confident young Tenerife-born player once again accepted his chance well.

The big game between the third and fourth sides ended in favour of Sevilla who overcame Valencia 2 – 1. Two fine Negredo goals sealed the victory and Navarro’s last minute effort was little in the way of consolation. Mallorca surprisingly passed up the opportunity of making up ground with a 2 – 1 loss at Jerez, for whom Carlos Calvo became a local hero with both goals. There was another surprise at Atlético Madrid where the home side went down at Málaga – they remain as frustratingly inconsistent as ever.

Villarreal’s two goal defeat at home to Osasuna meant the sack for coach Valverde, with the youth team coach being given the post until the end of the season when the club hope to attract Michael Laudrup. In the other games, Espanyol beat Atheltic by a single goal, the points were shared between Getafe and Racing and Valladolid and Almería, and, in the relegation battle, Zaragoza won 3 – 1 at Tenerife.

After 20 matches each, therefore, Barcelona still head the table with 52 points, followed by Real 47, Valencia 39, Sevilla 36, Mallorca and Deportivo with 34. The three teams promoted at the end of last season, Jerez, Tenerife and Zaragoza, remain in the relegation places.

Posted by admin @ 11:18 am
Category: Premier League,Spanish League

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