When we look back on the 2011-2012 Premier League season, we’re going to realize that these past few fixtures of games separated the men from the boys. Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have pulled away from the pack in England, leaving Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal fighting for the final spot in Champions League football.
Manchester United easily took down Wigan Athletic 5-0 this week even with Wayne Rooney starting on the bench. That’s the same Wigan squad that drew with Liverpool 0-0 last week and drew 1-1 with Chelsea the week before. While the Reds squandered two points against Wigan, United lay waste to Fulham by a 5-0 scoreline. Guess who played Fulham this week? Chelsea. The Blues took just a point in a 1-1 draw while playing at Stamford Bridge while the Red Devils were able to take the full three points at Craven Cottage.
Manchester City mustered just a weak draw at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. However, City defeated Arsenal in a pivotal showdown the previous week that kept them at the top of the league. They are now tied with United (ahead on goal-differential) after this week’s draw and United’s victory.
Meanwhile, the Spurs went on the road and handled Norwich City to keep themselves in third place in the table while Arsenal struggled, earning just a point against Wolverhampton despite playing at home and being up a man for the final 15 minutes. If Spurs defeat Everton in the fixture the two teams must make-up, they will put seven points between them and fourth place-Chelsea and would sit just four points behind the Manchester clubs.
The Spurs likely don’t have the fire power to catch either City or United. City has been dominant all year and United is hitting its stride down, setting them up for a run in the second-half of the year. However, they should have enough to keep that third spot in the Premier League
Chelsea and Arsenal both have Champions League games left to play and with the league title out of reach, will likely focus their full energy on those games. Liverpool, meanwhile, will be without star Luis Suarez in its next match after the Uruguayan flipped the bird to Fulham fans. More importantly though, Suarez faces a potential eight-game ban for supposedly racially abusing United defender Patrice Evra. Liverpool and Suarez are vehemently refuting the charge and plan to appeal the ban, but if the Reds are without their star attacker for any lengthy period of time, it will be nearly impossible for them to keep pace with any of the top five clubs.
Nevertheless, anything could happen in the January transfer window and the second half of the year is shaping up to be a great one with the Manchester clubs and Tottenham fighting for the title while Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool compete for that final Champions League spot. And that doesn’t include Newcastle United, who after their promotion last year, are right behind Liverpool in eighth place before a big matchup between the teams this Friday. All in all, get excited for a great couple months of English football.