Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Man United win; Arsenal fail once more.

So, 4 days removed from the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Manchester United picked up their 8th victory in 9 league matches defeating Everton 3-0. Christiano Ronaldo finally stopped flailing in front of the goal and actually scored for once. Patrice Evra and John O'Shea dropped the other two goals on the Toffees. Tim Howard, on loan to Everton from Manchester United, had to watch from the stands as EPL rules prohibit players out on loan from taking the field against the club that owns their contract.

It is good to see that United were able to rebound from the 1-1 draw and keep their charge at the top of the league. Getting three more goals is a good sign that the offense is still churning out results and that the goal lead that United has over Chelsea keeps getting larger. Getting several key players some rest, namely Scholes, Giggs and Saha as well as having some of the lesser used players step in and keep the course is a good thing as well. Up next for United is a home tie with Middlesborogh.

Elsewhere in the EPL, Chelsea bounced back from their Sunday match with United and bounced Bolton 1-0 to remain 3 points back from United. Michael Ballack picked up their goal. If Chelsea keeps winning these 1-0 matches, the goal differential with United will be astronomical. Considering that both clubs are matching each other stride for stride and have one match separating them, the goals difference might play a larger part than some might want to think. If United continue to pick up 2 or 3 goals a match to Chelsea's 1 per match, Chelsea might be able to catch United on points, but the goals will do them in.

So now we come to the death of Arsenal. Fresh off of their 3-1 loss to Bolton on Saturday, Arsene Wenger's men ran in out and promptly lost again, this time 2-1 to fellow London side, Fulham. Already having 4 losses in the league, before Christmas all but dooms Arsenal to being 100% out of the league championship race. The way that United and Chelsea are playing, that 16 point gulf that Arsenal must make up looks impossible. Arsenal shouldn't fret too much, they have some interesting company as Liverpool share the same point total as Wenger's men, but having already played more matches that Arsenal. If Rafa's boys will even consider contenting for the title, they will need to play some sparkling football in December, and hope that United and Chelsea slip up something awful.

In reality, the EPL has already turned into a two horse race, even before December. With Chelsea having an 11 point lead over Portsmouth and Bolton for second place, there are really two races going on here. The race for first between Chelsea and United and the race for 3rd, 4th & 5th, with four points separating eight clubs. I am interested in seeing United retain their led over Chelsea (and hopefully extending it). I am also interested to see how Reading does in the race for the European slots, as they are one of those eight clubs in the hunt for the 3rd, 4th & 5th spots (they are two points behind Portsmouth & Bolton). Looking at all of this, coupled with the five clubs fighting to avoid relegation, I say that a single table works just fine and the MLS should observe and take notes.


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