Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Fat Lady's Still Waiting in the Wings

Listening to all the self-proclaimed experts, you would think the Premiership is now solely a two-horse race. The FSC guys have basically written off Liverpool following today's defeat to Manchester United and they don't give Chelsea much chance either. We all accept that Derby will go down but we are only halfway through the season and it seems a bit early to be writing Chelsea off. Liverpool were realistically always a bit of an outsider given they are still in a transforming stage after splashing all that money out on Torres and others. Chelsea, though, have performed brilliantly since the shock of Mourinho's departure and they will be a contender right up to the end. Admittedly, Arsenal and United seem to have the edge in terms of consistency but who knows what a defeat here and there for them will do? There's a long way to go.
Today's games, watched at the British Bulldog pub in downtown Denver, were scrappy and tight. Chelsea fought back well in the second half after Cech's error allowing the Arsenal goal. They didn't allow the usually unstoppable Arsenal midfield to play, a feat in itself, but they couldn't break the defense down either. Shevchenko, a player who should be admired for his persistence during a not particularly happy time at Chelsea, brought a great save from Almunia right at the death, but did anybody notice the ridiculous argument he was having with Mikkel about who should take the free-kick? These two guys wasted a full two minutes of precious injury time arguing amongst themselves. When the title is on the line, these are the sort of petty incidents that need to be stamped out in the name of teamwork.

Team of the Week:
Watford FC, last season's whipping boys in the Premiership, for their backing of player Al Bangura who faces deportation back to his native Sierra Leone. Still a teenager and about to become a father, the UK government said he has to go back because his claim for political asylum doesn't hold up. First, his manager, Adrian Boothroyd, had the guts to put the game in perspective with an articulate defense of his player and what he has been through. Then, the fans came out together with banners of their hero during half-time demanding he be allowed to stay. Elton John, former chairman of the club, has also been on the campaign trail. The local MP is also involved so we can all hope there is a happy outcome. Much respect for the Watford community for seeing the big picture and doing all they can to secure Bangura's future in his chosen country.

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