Man United will be the strongest finishers of any team in the Premiership this season. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson and his men have been down this road on so many different occasions over the years that they know exactly how to get the job done.
This season the defending champions have been written off on so many different occasions, yet they lie level on points atop of the Premier League alongside noisy neighbours City. After the 6-1 thrashing at home to City, many expected Mancini’s men would run away with the title. Since that result United have continued to plug away, winning 11 of their 14 league matches since the humiliating home defeat at the end of October and topping the current form charts. As has been said in seasons before there remains more to come from United with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Rio Ferdinand all being sidelined recently.
The return of Paul Scholes could be key as he brings United the guile that they so desperately missed during the first half of the season and Antonio Valencia has been the best right winger in the league over recent weeks. The best is yet to come and the experience that United posses will prove vital as we approach the business end of the season. United at this moment in time are my favourites to lift the title for a record 20th time.
The appointment of Martin O’Neil as boss has turned Sunderland’s season on its head. Before then the Black Cats season seemed destined to be headed towards a relegation dogfight and there was a certain gloom and doom hovering over the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland had managed only 2 wins from 13 league matches, with goals proving very difficult to come by. Yet, since his arrival O’Neil has been able to revitalise this big club and its passionate fans.
His charisma and energy levels seem to have given everybody associated with the club a massive lift. They have gained 19 points from a possible 22 only Manchester United have been better over this same period. Stephane Sessegnon has emerged as a genuine star in this league.
He has managed to add goals to his repertoire, along with his silky smooth skills on the ball and eye for a pass Sessegnon is involved in everything that is good for Sunderland. Another player who has come on leaps and bounds since O’Neil’s arrival is young Northern Irish winger James McClean. His direct style and crossing ability have won him many plaudits and he seems to have a big future in the game. O’Neil’s side will continue to improve and look for them to finish in a strong top half position come end of the season.
As seems to be the norm at Goodison Park, Everton got off to a dreadful start to the season. Goals proved extremely hard to come by with usually reliable front men Louis Saha and Tim Cahill desperately struggling in front of goal.
The creativity of former talisman Mikel Arteta was also extremely missed with their being no natural successor to the Spaniard. The Toffees have struggled for consistency this season, while remaining a difficult side to beat the lack of goals has made it hard for them to string a run of good results together. The January transfer window came just in time for David Moyes.
He was able to bring in old boy Landon Donovan from LA Galaxy on a two month loan and his impact has been immediate. Donovan has been able to create the chances that were not being made at the start of the campaign. However Moyes had to wait until deadline day to make his biggest move. The highly sought after Rangers striker Nikica Jelavic signed on the dotted line just in time to be paraded at half time in their match against table toppers Man City.
His goal scoring record in Austria and Scotland speak for itself and Moyes will hope he can continue like this but of course the Premiership is a different kettle of fish. Another late deal that was completed by Everton was the loan deal to bring back fans favourite Steven Pienaar.
The South African had a torrid tie in North London and never rediscover the form which saw him start for Everton in his previous spell. His versatility and ability to create will be key to Everton as they look to finish strongly. After another extremely testing season on and off the pitch David Moyes will once again guide his club to a strong top half position and look for them to make a run in the FA Cup.
Spurs have been the most exciting and dynamic team in the Premier League all season. They have managed to keep in touch with the top two and are still in with a fighting chance of taking the title as they only sit 5 points off the leaders.
It may have been so different if Jermain Defoe’s legs would have been a couple of inches longer or if City had been punished for not one but two seemingly obvious red cards. Yet, it has to be said Spurs have still had a highly successful season, looking almost assured of at least a Champions League spot next season which would have been the top priority for Harry Redknapp’s men.
If you would have offered Harry to be 5 points off the lead at the beginning of February I have no doubts that he would have taken that deal without any thought. After a slow start Gareth Bale has returned to the form which saw him named player of the season last year, while Luca Modric and Scott Parker continue to be the best central midfield partnership in the league.
The next two months will be crucial to Spurs’ title challenge as they face the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea all of which will be away from White Hart Lane except the visit of the defending champions United. If Spurs can remain in touching distance after playing all of these games then they will be in with a great shout because their final run in will be against teams that they are expected to beat.
Expect Spurs to run the two Manchester teams close, even though they remain outsiders to take the title they have all the ingredients to pull off one of the biggest surprises in Premier League history.
The Hoops have been amongst the busier teams during the January transfer window bringing in no less than 5 new players to Loftus Road. Bankrolled by new owner Tony Fernandes, Q.P.R. manager Mark Hughes has been able to greatly strengthen his new squad for the relegation scrap they are faced with. Q.P.R. have struggled throughout the season for goals managing to score only 24 times in the league. The arrival of Djibril Cisse’ has already had an instant impact with him hitting the opener in his sides’ 2 all draw away to Aston Villa on Wednesday night.
The thought of him linking up with former Fulham man Bobby Zamora must have the Hoops faithful salivating as the summer arrivals, Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell have not been a successful since their moves to West London last summer. Hughes is a tried and tested Premier League manager and will feel he has the experience to lead his side out of danger. Defensive duo Taye Taiwo and Nedem Onuoha will add a greater physical dimension to a backline that has leaked 39 goals in 23 league games this season.
Taiwo, a loan signing from AC Milan is known for his foraging runs down the left side along with a cannon of a left boot. Q.P.R. have managed to strengthen a lot more than then the teams around them and Mark Hughes will feel that this extra quality will see them to safety. Look for the Hoops to consolidate their top flight status with a solid end to the season, Mark Hughes has the experience and the managerial pedigree to lead Q.P.R. to safety.
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