EPL Results Week 26: Top of Table Up for Grabs After Lackluster Showings

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IFebruary 13, 2014

Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs, left, challenges for the ball as he out jumps Manchester United's Rafael during their English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates stadium in London, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

After David Luiz lost Victor Anichebe and left him free to score in the 87th minute, Chelsea could do no better on Tuesday than a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

It appeared as if Jose Mourinho's men were going to give the top of the table right back to Arsenal, just one week after snatching it.

That left this particular writer to ponder on Tuesday evening that Arsenal would be the eventual league champs.

While struggling with the notion that Arsenal looks to have peaked too early this league year, I couldn't get over the fact that it appeared as if everything was still going to break their way.

After all, this was going to be the third time that Arsenal lost the lead atop the table in less than two months. The previous two times, Arsenal immediately regained the lead the following week the previous two times. 

Liverpool had a quick stay at the top only to slump and plummet.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool gestures after the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Aston Villa at Anfield on January 18, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester City had a one-week stay and then surprisingly forgot how to score, and Arsenal moved right back to the top. 

Chelsea's draw continued this pattern. Then something screwy happened: Arsenal couldn't find a single solitary score against the Red Devils on Wednesday. They also didn't allow any and earned a draw, but the single point was not enough to lift them past Chelsea in the table.  

Take a look at the results and the table, and then we'll continue the discussion about muddied picture for the top of the table: 

Premier League Results for Matchday 26
Feb. 11Cardiff vs. Aston Villa0-0
Feb. 11Hull vs. Southampton0-1
Feb. 11West Ham vs. Norwich2-0
Feb. 11West Brom vs. Chelsea1-1
Feb. 12Arsenal vs. Manchester United0-0
Feb. 12Everton vs. Crystal PalacePostponed
Feb. 12Manchester City vs. SunderlandPostponed
Feb. 12Newcastle vs. Tottenham0-4
Feb. 12Stoke vs. Swansea1-1
Feb. 12Fulham vs. Liverpool3-2
Premier League Table
3Manchester City2517354154
5Tottenham Hotspur261556450
7Manchester United2612681042
9Newcastle United2611411-637
10Swansea City267712-328
11West Ham United267712-528
12Aston Villa267712-928
13Hull City267613-627
14Stoke City266911-1427
15Crystal Palace258215-1626
16Norwich City266713-2025
17West Bromwich Albion2641210-824
19Cardiff City265714-2522

As you may have noticed, and the following tweet from the BBC informs us, there were two games postponed. 

High winds made for unsafe conditions, and officials made the prudent decision. Of course, with Manchester City being involved in one of those, it only helps distort the picture for the top of the table. 

With both Chelsea and Arsenal picking up just a single point, the Citizens would have had the table lead based on their dominant goal differential had they beaten Sunderland at Etihad. 

A victory for Manchester United in that match would seem like a foregone conclusion. Although, nothing should be assumed with the Citizens right now. 

The team, which leads the league in goals scored, has failed to score in both of their last two league matches, and one of those came at Etihad. 

Injury issues are a big part of the reason for City's disappearing firepower. Just ask manager Manuel Pellegrini: 

The Citizens have good depth, but that obviously hasn't helped them score a goal in either of their last two matches. And what reason do we have to think that this dominant yet inconsistent team will put together a run strong enough to take the table? 

Now, back to Arsenal. Consistency has been their strength. The draw with the Red Devils, however, is the exact kind of match that Arsenal have mustered three points from all year, and that winning consistency is what has kept them at the top of the table. 

The Gunners failed to score any goals against the weak midfield and defense of the Red Devils, and all the while Arsene Wenger was content to keep Lukas Podolski on the bench. I can't see this cautious approach and lack of firepower leading the Gunners back to the top of the table. 

Meanwhile, all of these reasons lead me to pinning title hopes on Chelsea. 

Sang Tan/Associated Press

But how confident can I be in that when Mourinho so astutely points out the weakness of his club? Here is the manager in a post-match quote provided by ESPN FC:

A complete team kills this game: 2-0, goodbye. We didn’t. For 60 minutes, only one team [was in the game] and that team couldn’t kill the game, especially in the first 15 minutes of the second half. For 10 minutes, the game was poor, and for the last 20 minutes, only one team [was in it] and that team fought a lot to get a goal and a point. I think they deserved it.

In the second half, we were not strong enough to kill the game. They had a reaction, and we couldn’t cope with the reaction. The team stayed back. We started being too deep.

I was feeling that, even if I put some attacking players on, it wouldn't help because the team were really under pressure, and it looked impossible for my defenders to get out of the first third of the pitch.

We gave them the ball and waited for them to put it in our box and fight against it. But it is not our game. It's not how we feel comfortable. A lack of personality. We must have the personality to get out.

The good news for Mourinho is that there doesn't appear to be a complete team out there, and the good news for fans is that the race for the top of the table will be filled with drama until the final week of the season. 


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