Monday, 20 May 2013

What The Last Day of The Premier League Taught Us

Arsenal didn’t even need dodgy lasagne
Since they lost the derby Arsene’s boys have become the type of defensively strong, results driven team that they never threatened to be.  The improvement in Laurent Koscielny alone this season has been staggering.  With a pre-season for once not dominated by their best players leaving it’s tempting to wonder what they could achieve if they started next season with the same attitude that they ended this one with.  This being Arsenal you still somehow can’t see it happening.  They’ll probably not sign anyone apart from a couple of French youth prospects and lose away to Stoke first game of the season.  Still, nice to think that Arsene’s eight year plan may just come good after all.

Sunderland’s holiday being cancelled did them the world of good
On the players selected for this game Di Canio’s threats to cancel summer holidays if the team didn’t perform worked wonders.  His players chased and harried as if their trips to Vegas depended on it.  Down to the bare bones in terms of selection defensively they were solid, Tottenham relying on another Bale screamer to break the deadlock in the last minute.  The more telling implication may be on the players that weren’t there, Di Canio raging against the pathetic attitude of unnamed players.  In the week he was pictured covered in £50 notes in a casino at 2 in the morning it would be a major surprise if Phil Bardsley didn’t find himself seeking employment elsewhere.

Spurs need investment
Another season and another near miss for Spurs.  That this was their highest points total in the Premier League era will be scant consolation.  How they come back from this will be telling.  Keeping Gareth Bale will of course be key but it would be nice to see the club recognise that at times this season they were dangerously close to being a one man team.  As with last summer they need a 20 goal a season striker as a priority.  Having Daniel Levy not make headlines negotiating for one all the way until August 31st would also be helpful.

Jack Rodwell reminds us all
Pretty much the only positive for City out of their tired looking (of which more later) surprise loss to Norwich was the performance of Rodwell.  Given a rare start he gave a timely reminder of what potential he has when fit.  He tackled and passed with aplomb and took his two goals well to remind everyone what a player he could be.  The only way he’ll make good on his potential it to stay injury free and play 30 plus games next season, both of which the odds are unfortunately against him doing at City.

Next year could be Countinho’s season
Sturridge may have scored 11 goals in 11 starts for his new club but the best piece of business Liverpool completed in the January transfer window was the capture of the young Brazilian.  His vision and passing have made Liverpool team click going forward as they never have before and are a big reason behind any optimism for a top four push next season.  And he’s got my vote for the assist of the season for his outside of the boot through ball against Fulham.  His goal yesterday wasn’t bad either.

Newcastle will be glad this season is over
The strange thing about Newcastle’s stuttering season has been that in league it’s often been the players they fought so hard to keep last year that have let them down.  Yesterday they never looked like spoiling Arsenal’s party.  Cheick Tiote in particular has gone from the signing of the season to the week link in his team.  Outside of a few games Cabaye hasn’t been at his usual standard either.  Whether this is due to speculation over their futures, second season syndrome or just tiredness after a long season with (at least originally) a small squad Newcastle will be glad they can now look forward to starting again in August.

Andy Carroll should stay at West Ham
Yes he’s been playing very well, threatening defenses  scoring goals and yesterday creating two, the second with a deft touch and pass that illuminated Upton Park.  You can’t help thinking though that Carroll’s pretty much got it as good as it gets at West Ham.  He has a manger who plays to his strengths, his mate Nolan behind him, two wingers providing ammunition and pretty much a guarantee that when fit he’ll lead the line.  With his future still undecided and other clubs sure to express an interest Carroll will face a difficult decision.  Will he ever have it better than West Ham though?  With Newcastle, going back to Liverpool and Monaco as his other options he’d be better staying somewhere he knows he’ll be appreciated.

The post season trips by Chelsea and Man City are a mistake
Chelsea played their 69th game of the season yesterday.  This is a lot.  So the sensible thing to do is probably to fly to America for a post season tour and two more games against Man City (who in their match against Norwich looked very tired themselves).  Modern football gives us daily opportunities to proclaim the point in which it sold a bit more of its soul for money.  Even so, this is a clearer one than most.  At the end of a season that offered a rare chance for rest this trip will only succeed in limiting both club’s competitiveness for next season.  You can’t help wondering if this would be happening if Jose was in charge.  We’re likely to find out at the end of next season.

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