Last month, I said that the title race looked over and that Sir Alex Ferguson would not allow Man Utd to screw it up. I spoke too soon.
Top Teams this Month
Liverpool- They beat Real Madrid, they slaughtered Man Utd at Old Trafford and they destroyed Aston Villa at Anfield. They are without question the team in form right now. Two things were answered in this run. One; Liverpool is a title contender. Two; Steven Gerrard's best position is as an attacking midfielder playing behind Fernando Torres. Manager Rafael Benitez need to maintain this position till the end of the season and Liverpool will drive Man Utd all the way till the end of the season.
Arsenal- New signing Andrei Arshavin has come good and not a moment too soon for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Arshavin has been scoring goals and creating chances, so much so that you can hardly notice the absence of Cesc Fabregas. With the return from injuries of several key players (and the implosion of Aston Villa), the Gunners seems to have 4th place sewn up.
Fulham- Roy Hodgson had his team playing good solid football for a few months already but no one notices. Then Man Utd came to town and Fulham promptly beat them 2-0. Suddenly everyone stood up and took notice. Good for them because Hodgson and Fulham deserved some pundits for their good work this season.
Surprise Team this month
Everton- I seem to have a habit of underestimating Everton. After an off-season in which they did almost nothing, I thought it would be very hard for manager David Moyes to get them to 5th again this season. For most of the season I was correct, but now at the business end of the season they are there again. They are still the effective, hard to beat, and slightly boring team of last season but there they are challenging for a place in Europe. Now that is a surprise.
Disappointing Teams this month
Manchester United – They were 7 points in front with a game in hand. 2 straight losses later and suddenly the title race is wide open. Personally I’m not that surprised as Man Utd had been getting results without playing very well for the past few months. What is surprising is how Man Utd lost it. They were beaten 4-1 by Liverpool at home and had 2 players sent off at Fulham. Despite what Sir Alex Ferguson said publicly, both Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes deserved their red at Fulham and they were NOT the better team against Liverpool. I still think they will win the EPL title but it’ll be a lot closer than I thought it would be.
Aston Villa- A lot of people said that the international break came at a good time for Man Utd. I disagree. As bad as the results were for Man Utd, they are not in freefall like their next opponents. Aston Villa are in horrible form right now and manager Martin O'Neill will be even more grateful for the break than Sir Alex Ferguson. A lot of the blame has been put on Gabriel Agbonlahor for the poor run but I think the bigger problem for Villa was the loss of John Carew. I’ve said earlier this season that for Villa to challenge the Big 4, they need Carew to stay healthy. He didn’t and now they are now in a slump. The break couldn’t come at a better time for them.
Hull City- Nothing is going right for them right now. Hull City can’t buy a win and things are getting desperate. Pressure is also getting to them, how else can you explain Phil Brown’s spitting accusation against Cesc Fabregas, and amazingly they are in real danger of dropping back into the Championship. After the great start they had, who could have guess that?