The problem though, as always, is that the moment one starts thinking of them in a nicer way, their supporters – appropriately named the ‘Gooners’ and as big a bunch of Arses as you could ever hope to see – go and start crowing so loudly that you immediately see them for the Arses they truly are (and will always be, it seems). Take the last round of European games for example.
Arsenal beat a sorry Slavia Prague side (yes, I too asked that, “Slavia who???”) by 7 goals. Now, of course, the London-based press and every Arse fan in the world (yep, you can actually count them. Small club, after all...) are proclaiming them as the greatest team ever ever ever and are waxing lyrical about how this is a game that nobody will ever forget etc etc and how it’s one of the greatest football games ever ever ever… You get the picture.
Remember though, that this is the same side that crashed out against a woeful PSV side last season (which in turn lost to Liverpuddle, thereby giving you some idea of how poor they were to have lost to even that bunch of tossers). Man United of course, were busy thrashing a flying AS Roma with a 7-1 win!!! Why didn’t one hear the same strains at that time? Errr… Big club, big ambitions. We (United fans) knew that there’s nothing to these wins unless you go all the way and win the Cup. We didn’t. End of matter.
Bottomline? Well, a small club like Arsenal will always search for these rare wins to crow about (remember how they went on after beating Inter in that fluke?) while for a big club, these are routine matters. Like Real beating Barca 5-3, United thrashing Arsenal (at Highbury at that) 6-1 and so on… Hardly worth one’s while to get worked up about these things…
On the English League front, things are interesting albeit predictable. The Bin Dippers (Liverpuddle, in case you didn’t know that already) are of course on their patented path downhill. With a manager like Rifle Bunny-Toes, they really do need Clattenburg in 'charge' (though you could be excused for thinking that the ref at Goodison was someone in a red shirt) of their games. Can’t see them making the UEFA Cup spots without him to be honest. I mean, when you play Stevie Wonder as your midfield lynchpin, you don’t really give yourself much of a chance…
Chelsea, well, can’t see them going on a sustained title charge. Ten Cate will help them for sure, but there’s only so much he can do. They’ll still do well though. Lampard may be a real knob as a bloke, but regardless of what the press tell you, he’s better than Liverpuddle’s Stevie Wonder. He and Drogba along with Malouda should ensure that Chelsea finish in the top 4 at least.
Arsenal? Well, surprisingly, they are my pick for second spot. With 'puddle being as woeful as they are and Chelsea lacking the inspiration of Mourinho – and facing the spectre of the prolonged absence of Drogba and co for the ANC – they really just need to ensure that they don’t slip up too often to ensure that they finish clear of ‘puddle, Chelsea and the rest.
Manchester City are actually my pick for cracking into the Top 4. They have a class manager in Sven. I said it all along that the British Press really did not know what they were saying when they slagged off Sven. Bottom line is that he is a class manager who led a below-average bunch of over-hyped and overpaid inflated egos (the England squad) to greater success (the QFs) than they deserved and only really lost out when their ineptitude really couldn’t be masked tactically (in a penalty shoot-out, there’s really not much the manager can do if the players insist on shanking!!!). At City, he has got some excellent players in via transfers (Elano for buy of the season so far, anyone?) and has some good names coming through the ranks (Johnson has been phenomenal for them). With Sven at the helm and no European distractions, City could surprise a lot of people…specially with the implosion at Chelsea and the downward spiral of the Scum from Merseyside.
Manchester United now. They’re my pick for champions and I’m not just saying that as a fan. They have battled - and are still battling – a huge injury list from the start of the season and are still flying high and with the goals now beginning to flow, they are looking like an irresistible force: the only glimpse of class in the mediocrity that characterizes the Premier League. Their demolition of Villa (who have been good under MON) was just another performance that speaks of a growing assurance. Anderson and Nani have settled in well and while they are far from the finished product yet, they are still superior to what their opponents have to offer (the likes of Stevie Wonder, Alonso and company). With Hargreaves, Neville, Saha and co yet to return to action, United can only get better. Their clash with the Arse at Ashburton 'Grave' (I'll really miss the 'Highbury Library' chants...) should be a real test of an under-strength United team, but should they win that one, people will be forgiven for thinking that they will stroll to the title.
The relegation battle seems simple too really. Derby are certainly heading down I’d say and Bolton too. Bolton had a chance till a few days ago, but with Megson tipped to take charge there, there is no way they are staying up. I only wonder whether Anelka will move on in January or wait till the summer. For the third relegation spot, well, much as I’d love to say Fulham or ‘boro, I think it’ll be Wigan. They sorely lack any sort of quality and to top it off have an inept manager (Bramble for England? What???). Sunderland have a squad that really should never have made it to the Premiership and a squad that could so easily have gone down immediately, but I rather think that Keane will save them. He’s proven to be an astute and capable manager and I think he’ll literally drag the Black Cats to survival. It will be a lot tougher for him though if Jones gets injured…
My tips overall then?1. Manchester United
4. Man City (How I hate to say this... Must wash my tongue...)
So there! Oh and yeah. Disclaimer: I can’t be held liable for any money anyone loses due to gambling on my predictions. I also refuse to be held liable for any notional losses people may sustain for not gambling on my predictions based on this disclaimer. Now go ahead and bet. Till I return with something on the sumptuous La Liga then, cheerio!