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April 5, 2010

The best climax to a season ever?

Well, as far as the Premier League is concerned, the coming few weeks could well be amongst the best in the league’s history. There are so many issues unresolved – at both ends of the table.

Chelsea installed themselves as the bookies’ favourites again as a result of their 2 – 1 victory at Old Trafford, which the visitors just about deserved because of their first half dominance. This was a strange game in that both sides should have had definite penalties but also scored goals which should have been ruled out; Drogba’s goal for Chelsea was clearly well offside and Macheda’s consolation which made for an exciting last few minutes went in off his hand. The match’s legitimate goal came from the revitalised Joe Cole after good work from the outstanding Malouda.

Arsenal, who must have been hoping for a Manchester United equaliser to keep the top two teams a little closer to them, found it really difficult to break down much-improved Wolves. In the event, the Gunners had to wait until the 4th minute of time added on to seal the points – a fine Bendtner header. Things might have been very different, however, had the referee not controversially sent off Henry, the visitors’ skipper, in the second half.

Manchester City now have 4th place in their own hands after a stunning 6 – 1 success at almost doomed neighbours Burnley – a shadow of the team that took a point from Eastlands earlier in the season. Astonishingly, City were three goals ahead after just 6 minutes and they coasted to a six goal cushion before the hour mark. Adebayor (2), Bellamy, Tevez, Viera and Kompany were the scorers for Mancini’s team.

The only other winners amongst those fighting for the final Champions’ League spot were Aston Villa who did well to come back from last week’s dismal performance at Chelsea. Ashley Young scored a fine early goal at Bolton, who could still be dragged into the relegation fight if one of the current strugglers finds some form.

Regular readers will know of my fascination for the Italians’ view of the ‘Immutable Law of the Ex’, and Sunderland’s Darren Bent epitomised the saying against his old team-mates of Tottenham. Not content with scoring the season’s fastest Premier League goal after just 34 seconds, Bent, the striker Harry Redknapp compared unfavourably to his wife, added a further penalty. Only two fine penalty saves from Spurs’ keeper Gomes prevented Bent from adding two more to his season’s tally of 22 league goals. Sunderland did score a fine third, though, from a delicious Zenden volley, and the visitors’ consolation came from substitute Peter Crouch.

It was always going to be difficult for Liverpool to win at Birmingham – none of the other top sides have managed it this season – and their task became even harder when Fernando Torres was controversially substituted after an hour. Steven Gerrard scored with a typical curling right footer but Birmingham equalised thanks to a Ridgewell goal scored at the far post – and he was the most unmarked player you are ever likely to see score a goal at the top level.
At the foot of the table, Portsmouth played out a goalless draw at home to Blackburn in a game memorable only for poor Vanden Borre who was sent off and therefore misses next week’s FA Cup semi-final appearance against Spurs. West Ham showed some of the determination and fight they’re going to need to stay in the top flight by snatching a draw at in-form Everton. Bilyaletdinov and Yakubu scored for the home side and Da Costa and Ilan, with a fine header from a Faubert cross, for the Hammers.

Hull lost out by two goals at Stoke and Wigan were unable to dent Fulham’s fine home record, going down 2 – 1. The bottom of the league, therefore, now has Portsmouth adrift with 14 points, Burnley with 24, then Hull with 27. West Ham are just safe at the moment with 28 points, although they have played a game more than Hull. Wigan and Bolton supporters, whose clubs have 31 and 32 points respectively, are still probably quite nervous.

Chelsea lead the way now with 74 points from 33 games, followed by Manchester United (72 from 33), Arsenal (71 from 33), Manchester City (59 from 32), Spurs (58 from 32), Liverpool (55 from 33) and Villa (54 from 32).

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La Liga

In Spain, everything is set for next Saturday’s El Classico at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid and Barcelona both comfortably negotiated the weekend’s fixtures to ensure they’re locked together on 77 points from 30 games. Although Real are leaders because of Goal Difference, after next week the situation will change and leadership will depend on the head to head results between the two teams – making the game even more mouth-watering.

Madrid’s 12th consecutive win, at home to Racing, came with a much changed side – but still relied on a Ronaldo penalty and a Higuaín strike. Barcelona, who have the small matter of a match with Arsenal before meeting Madrid, also left some players out – including Ibrahimovich who was injured in the warm-up and misses the Champions’ League tie. Bojan made the most of his rare start by scoring twice and Jeffren and Messi saw off Athletic’s challenge.

Valencia are now six points clear in third place, thanks to a three goal success against Osasuna. Two late goals from David Villa made the game secure after an earlier one from Joaquín. Sevilla at last won a home game comfortably, 3 – 0 against struggling Tenerife. Kanoute and Fabiano, who have rarely played together this season because of injuries, scored in the first half and then youngster José Carlos added a late free kick.

In the other matches, Villarreal won 2 – 0 at Valladolid, Atlético showed the league a rare glimpse of their European form by beating Deportivo 3 – 0, Zaragoza beat Málaga 2 – 0 and the games between Getafe and Espanyol and Sporting and Xerez finished even.

The top of the table, then, has Real Madrid and Barcelona with 77 points, Valencia have 56, Sevilla and Mallorca 48 and Athletic 48. Such is the erratic form of some of the clubs chasing European places, however, that even Atlético Madrid, down in 10th place with 40 points, could still end up in the qualifying positions.

Relegation seems more or less inevitable for Xerez, Valladolid and Tenerife, with Racing 6 points clear of the drop zone.

Posted by admin @ 11:48 am
Category: Premier League,Spanish League


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