EPL race tightens; time to celebrate
Last weekend's English Premier League results had a season-defining air about them, with the destination of the trophy suddenly looking much clearer and the race for the remaining Champion League places looking more open than ever.
As it happened, Chelsea came away from North London five points clear at the EPL summit after out-muscling its London rival. The Blues combined their physical and direct approach with the quick one-touch passing and moving game in which Arsenal excels. The Gunners, by contrast, lacked penetration, with top scorer
That result followed Arsenal's 1-0 defeat at Sunderland the previous weekend, and leaves it with what appears to be an insurmountable 11-point deficit to table-topping Chelsea. However,
"We are still in a very strong position," he said after the Chelsea loss. "Chelsea can drop points, I am convinced of that."
Yes, Arsenal has a game in hand, but even assuming it wins that, an eight-point gap in December is surely too hefty to bridge in chasing a team of Chelsea's undoubted qualities.
In its present position, the continued pursuit of Chelsea isn't the only thing on which Wenger should be focusing. His side's two consecutive defeats and other results last weekend means the Frenchman should be taking a good look in his rearview mirror at the peloton of teams bearing down on the remaining Champions League qualification places.
The Gunners find themselves amongst a posse of seven teams -- from third-place Tottenham Hotspur to ninth-place Stoke City -- that are separated by only six points. Archrival Spurs are ahead of Arsenal by a point, and were brought crashing back to the real world after their 9-1 mauling of Wigan Athletic with a 1-1 draw against sixth-place Aston Villa.
Liverpool, and in particular beleaguered boss
There are some hugely important "six-pointers" to look out for over the next month that will shape the final standings amongst this group of teams, most notably Arsenal at Liverpool on Dec. 13, Manchester City at Tottenham on Dec. 16 and Liverpool at Aston Villa on Dec. 29.
In its upcoming fixtures, Man. City will hope to end the sequence of draws that has stalled its early-season charge toward the top of the table. The Citizens will not be ecstatic to know they now hold the record for the most successive number of draws -- their 1-1 stalemate with Hull City was their seventh straight.
The celebrations that followed
"Whoever scored an equalizer or winning goal had to be the one who did the pointing," Bullard told the BBC; the other players would sit in a circle around the finger-wagging Brown impersonator. (Click
Brown's outrage in December last year was thanks to Hull conceding four first-half goals in a match symptomatic of the team's accelerating decline in form. The Tigers continued to slump from that point and only avoided relegation when Newcastle lost its final game of the season. But that incident was a seminal piece of criteria in analyzing Hull's fall, much of it centering on Brown's eccentricities.
Times are happier on Humberside now. Hull's point at City last Saturday was its eighth in its last four games. "It was a fantastic celebration," Brown told the BBC. "Great comedy is about timing. I couldn't deliver my postmatch speech as I was laughing so much. The whole thing was timed to perfection."
Indeed, we reckon that Bullard's jest makes the all-time top five most sensational EPL goal celebrations. In no particular order, here are the four others:
Just look at the maniacal passion and delight Neville exhibited when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate uncontrollably in front of Liverpool fans after
Last time around, we set out the arguments for not adopting an American-style playoff system to decide who wins the EPL. We contended the league should be won by the best team across all 38 games, and that there's no reason why a team that finishes eighth in the league could have a chance of being league "champion."
Fire over your thoughts on the way the top of the EPL is panning out and any other tidbits of banter to the usual address: