The S-Thread For 1/2/13: 2012-13 Barclays Premier League After The Holiday Period
Shaun Wright-Phillips winner gave QPR a shock win at Chelsea, but they need a lot more results to save them.
It truly is three different seasons in the Barclays Premier League, with the holiday festive year end/year start four game period being its own grueling season of importance.
It could further spurn you to make hasty or needy moves in a January transfer window that you didn't want to have to dabble in, and it sets the table for the second half of the season. After another festive period, Manchester United are in the front and center. But unlike last season, where a clear lost to Newcastle spelled omens on what became a title-less season, Sir Alex's men are sound favorites for the title.
Shaun Wright-Phillips huge goal to give QPR the 1-0 win at Chelsea moved Harry Redknapp side from bottom of the table to......bottom of the table. I just don't see enough consistent team chemistry to overcome the drop for them, although they should finish ahead of Reading, who are giving their all in recent games but really are the same Championship level side that got promoted.
Aston Villa I would slightly favor for the final third drop spot even if Bent and Agbonlahor were back healthy since. The team just doesn't have the firm strength in the middle of the field to go along with true veteran leadership.
Since their perfect 3-0 win over Liverpool, the dam has really broke on Paul Lambert's side. And I think Roberto Martinez's Wigan (a club adapt at surviving relegation fights by now) and Nigel Atkins' Southampton (a believe in a positive manager with enough attacking talent) just have a bit more togetherness to stay up.
For the Champions League places as always, it will be a dog fight to the finish even more so than ever. Tottenham have started to finally win games consistently against lesser teams, and the squad is definitely behind Andre Villas Bosas. But the questions of them being a solid Top 3 or 4 side to the end will continue to persist until they fully confirm that.
Though Davis Moyes' players are always with him, there still is a question mark to whether they will hold both Leighton Baines and Felliani even in this transfer window, as well as them having the depth to match the likes of Chelsea or Spurs.
Arsenal and Chelsea really are going to have to be at their best consistently in this 2nd half of the season, or neither team will be in UEFA's premiere competition next year. Liverpool, with the addition of Daniel "Selfish" Sturridge and maybe young Paul Ince, will fight as hard as possible to get into the top 4th mix after working their way up the table all season.
And if West Brom can deal with injuries and added expectations to perform, they will, if anything less, have a loud say in who finishes 4th if they don't shock the world and end up in that spot.
Despite the league being competitive as ever for another season, both Manchester clubs still have just found ways to separate, with United double digits ahead of a 3rd place Spurs team that fully deserved winning in Old Trafford early this season.
The luster on City being a truly elite side has went right away with their embarrassment in Europe and letting Van Persie's late winner in their first derby match be the result to have United in firm pole position. But they are the closest to United and represent realistically the only other side capable of winning the title.
At 52 strong points despite all the defensive and holding midfield woes thus far this season, United seem destine for another title to go along with their fight for the FA Cup and Champions League (with how Real Madrid have played, United deserve favorite's billing for that glamorous knockout matches). The strength they've showed to score in Wayne Rooney's absence despite the difficult rapid fire holiday period exhibit how Sir Alex wants to win this one in style.
But in this Barclays Premier League, as evidence by City's dramatic snatch of a lifetime and the growing quality of most of its clubs, the finish still has some feeling of unpredictable, exciting events waiting to erupt.