Thursday, March 22, 2007

Death Of The Season

I'd be feeling depressed about it all it I was only interested in the big competitions. We're not even into April yet, and already we're looking at the distinct possibility of Chelsea and Manchester United boring us into submission on three counts at the end of the season. In the FA Cup, we can cheer for Blackburn Rovers against Chelsea and Watford against United, but it's looking fairly likely that we'll have a Chelsea - United final, whether we want one or not. In the Premiership, the two of them have already sewn up first and second place, though the FA have engineered a meeting between the two clubs on May the 9th, lest we forget that only two clubs really matter. In the Champions League, there's a decent chance that they'll be playing each other in the final, as well. Is there anyone that can launch an argument that this is, in any way, a good thing? I'd be interested to know.

The incident at White Hart Lane on Monday night has seen an interesting response in the press. Chelsea now seem to be so disliked that physical attacks on their players is almost acceptable. Jamie Redknapp commented that the perpetrator of the attack on Frank Lampard should be imprisoned, and all hell broke loose - he has been widely ridiculed for making the statement. Having said that, though, he has a point. Footballers, even fat, arrogant, over-rated ones deserve protection from those that have had a skinful and mistaken the pantomime taking place in front of them for real life. There was a dereliction of duty amongst the Spurs' security on Monday night, and they should be censured for it. Having said that, though, it was funny while it lasted, and it's important to not blow these things out of proportion. I should also take a moment to point out the shape of Frank Lampard's stomach in the above picture. He needs to get himself down the gym, and lay off the sausage sandwiches.

There is still some excitement to be had in the rest of the football season. Whilst Watford appear to be doomed to the drop, Charlton and West Ham both won last Saturday, leaving the interesting possibility of a battle the the last day of the season. Every time one of them looks like they're already down, they pick up three points from somewhere, and suddenly Sheffield United, Wigan Athletic and Manchester City are back looking over their shoulders again. There's every chance that this cone could run to the last day of the season. In the Championship, there are still only eight points between Birmingham City in second place and Cardiff City in seventh place. Derby County lead the pack at the moment, but any of them could drop out of contention at any given time. On the continent, Internazionale have already sewn up the Serie A championship, with a couple of months still to play. They've only dropped eight points all season and are still unbeaten in the league. Are they, however, a great side? They won the league last year by default, and their Champions League run ended in the last sixteen. Serie A has, you could argue, been distracted by events elsewhere, and with Juventus having a sabbatical in Serie B and Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio having been deducted points, so you could say that Inter have been quietly getting on with the job of ensuring that they finish the season with the best Serie A record ever. I merely think that Serie A is relatively weak this year.

In Spain, though, the possibility of a thrilling end to the season lays before us. Sevilla and Barca are tied at the top, then there's a five point gap to the chasing pack of Real Madrid, Valencia and Real Zaragoza. At the foot of the table, over-achievement by the pre-season relegation favourites, Osasuna, Getafe and Rectreativo Huelva, has meant that some big clubs are in danger of the drop. Real Sociedad already seem to be condemned, whilst it looks likely that at least two from Celta Vigo, Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao will follow them. Now, that's what a football league table should look like.

Due to crushing wisdom teeth pain, that's as much as you'll get out of me tonight. I think I may have taken too many painkillers. I'll come on to slating the Champions League quarter finals when they start the week after next. Tomorrow - a full review of the European Championship qualifying groups, and a look forward to this weekend's matches.


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