EPL 2009-10: What We Have Learned So Far

Gustavo Destro@@Gustavo_destroSenior Analyst IOctober 12, 2009

LONDON - OCTOBER 04:  Florent Malouda of Chelsea (R) celebrates with team mate Didier Drogba as he scores their second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on October 4, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

This break in the EPL season gives us a perfect opportunity to sit back and analyze the year so far. From the good (lots of scoring), the bad (Portsmouth, Hull) to the ugly (Adebayor's antics, diving controversies, Portsmouth's financial mess) this has been a busy season so far and hopefully the following months are as exciting as the first two.

At the top of the table, you can find the usual suspects Chelsea and Manchester United (yawn). Both went through relatively quiet off-seasons, with Man United losing Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez and Chelsea adding a Russian midfielder (Yuri Zhirkov) who is yet to see the field.

Still, both have strong enough squads and barring any injuries both figure to play a part in the title race - again.

Rounding out the top four are Tottenham and Manchester City. Spurs have beaten Liverpool in Week One, but then were unceremoniously thumped by Chelsea and therefore are a big question mark. Jermaine Defoe and Robbie Keane (four goals at Burnley) are playing well so they have a chance to make some noise.

Man City has started well and seemed that all who called for them to finish in the top four this season were saying 'told you so' and patting themselves on the back. Adebayor-gate and the loss to United in the Derby took some of the air off the City balloon but it is clear that so far the new kids of the group are alright.

Chasing the top four are two familiar faces.

On sixth place, Liverpool are not really hanging by a thread but certainly are walking the tight rope. With three losses already they are already six points off the lead and will definitely not have room for error as the season goes along.

What bothers me about the Reds is that they do beat the teams they are supposed to (Stoke, Hull, Burnley) but whenever they play someone who is on a par with their talent level (Tottenham, Villa, Chelsea) they look totally outmatched.

Arsenal sit fifth, five points off the pace with a game in hand. As is typical with Arsenal in the last few several years, injuries have hit them hard all over the board, and the team has had to play many different players along the season.

The Gunners have also not been out of the headlines, most of the times for the wrong reasons. Lately Chief Executive Ivan Gazidis has demanded that Arsene Wenger end the team's trophy less run this year. Things are interesting in North London to say the least.

A memo to Gazidis: Delivering a public ultimatum to the most successful manager in club history is not the best signal to give a team that has been coming under fire over the past few years.

(That concludes my Arsenal fan rant, now back to your regularly scheduled programming).

Aston Villa and Sunderland are playing well and sit right on the cusp but will probably not be more than spoilers to the big clubs and hang around the 7-10 spots throughout the season.

Bad news to the fans of everyone sitting nine to 20. Your team is not going to win this year and is most likely to play the part of cannon fodder for the big guns up top. Sorry, that's life.

Big ups for the new boys though. Wolves, Burnley, and Birmingham, the newly promoted clubs, are all hanging in there. Burnley in particular are proving to be a pain on the behind to all who go play at Turf Moor (Just ask Rooney and Co.).

I could go out on a limb and say that Burnley has a great chance to stay up and that since they are sitting at ninth, they would only have to win a certain amount of matches and all would be rosy but then I remind myself that at this time last season Hull was sitting way up there on the table and everyone was crowning Phil Brown as the next genius manager.

That was all before we all found out that Brown was a nut job and before his players quit on him - in December!

Which is around the same time I stop thinking Burnley is in the clear.

Speaking of Hull...Boy, where to start? A -12 goal difference, the fact that they have Jozy Altidore on their team, who rarely plays, but when he does he makes a difference (Hint: Play him more often!) or that they either win close or get blown out of the water makes this the worst team of the Premiership.

No, Portsmouth is off the hook even losing their first seven matches. Well, at least my 'opinion hook,' because they still are dead last and will most definitely be relegated. What is ironic is that they played so well during their losses (okay, in a few) but then won a complete stinker. Go figure.

And don't even begin with their financial situation, that requires another article, which I would have no patience writing - given the amount of b.s. involved.

In a nutshell: As it is trendy now in the EPL, Portsmouth was purchased by a U.A.E. businessman who apparently would help the team get out of financial trouble by injecting a bunch of oil money on the team and creating Man City 2.0.

Problem was, the guy who bought the team had no money - did no one check his bank account before signing the deal? - and consequently the team was 'thisclose' to being broke and was unable to pay their players ("coincidentally" the team lost its first seven matches - surely just a coincidence).

What do they decide to do then? Sell the team to another Arab oil tycoon.

Why do I not see this ending well?

(That was the story in a nutshell, for the full version, get a big mug of hot chocolate, bundle up under a blanket and prepare for a lot of reading when you ask yourself over and over again "What the hell were they thinking?")

Now onto a few quarterly awards:

Player Of The Year So Far

1. Fernando Torres - Liverpool

Without him Liverpool would be in deep trouble(as in Hull deep), and 3 losses would look good. Given the fact that he is the most indispensable player and also arguably the best striker out there, he gets my "Player of the Year So Far Award".

2. Ryan Giggs - Manchester United

What does this guy eat? Seriously, he should be on the downswing of his career and all he does is make Man United better. If this was America and Giggs played baseball everyone would be accusing him of using steroids, thank God this is soccer/football.

3. Darren Bent - Sunderland

Here's a fun fact about Darren Bent: He often does not admit he is himself. Here is the story. "People usually ask me, are you Darren Bent?" the striker said in an interview. "And I say no."

This is a guy who also thinks the depletion of the ozone layer will cause the end of the world and believes in ghosts. And also the third best player of the Premiership.

Jerk Of The Year So Far

(I say jerk to keep this clean)

1. Emmanuel Adebayor - Man City

Yes, I'm an Arsenal fan, and yes, if I were in the stands and Adebayor came running towards me to celebrate I would aim really well. The thing is, he did stomp on Fabregas' ankle and van Persie's face and said that Arsenal have no 'true' fans, forgetting to consider that all Man City fans from this season on (his first) will be ones that will only follow the team if it does well and jump ship at first sight of trouble.


What, you thought there would be more? Adebayor has already won the award for the whole season.

Manager Of The Year So Far

Phil Brown and Paul Hart - Hull City and Portsmouth

Kidding, kidding.

1. Mark Hughes - Manchester City

The key phrase here is 'so far' because there are already reports of unrest inside the locker room. Carlos Tevez wants more playing time and so does every other egomaniacal, money-hungry player they have brought on this off-season (And Robinho is out with an injury).

This is the problem with buying everyone you want; soon enough, after a loss or two, one guy thinks he should have played more in order to change the outcome. The problem is that every egomaniacal, money-hungry player will think the exact same.

In short: Have fun Mark Hughes.

2. Sir Alex Ferguson - Manchester United

Do we really need the 'Sir' every time we write his name? Sigh. Anyways, back to the topic in hand.

Losing Ronaldo and Tevez surely decreases the amount of talent (and of dives) at Old Trafford, but give Ferguson credit, his Michael Owen Pick-up surely was a great call (again, so far). Every manager should do this; instead of paying the players up front tell them "if you play well, you get paid a wad of cash", you would no doubt have players playing their hearts out for you.

Or a mutiny, whatever.

3. Arsene Wenger - Arsenal

13 years and still going strong. Sure, the past three four years have not been all lollipops and rainbows (who wants that anyways?) but anyone who questions Wenger surely does not know football. His Arsenal side has the best goal differential, play the most beautiful football and are one shady call and an own goal away from being in the top 3. And yet we are fifth (groans).

Here's to a final six-ish months of controversy, craziness and just good damn footy.

And a trophy for Arsenal! (sorry, had to).


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