Posts Tagged ‘English Premiership’

Yesterday (Sunday 23 October) former Chelsea manager José Mourinho made his first return to Stamford Bridge since he was sacked last December. His Manchester United team were thrashed 4-0 by a rampant Chelsea, with the first goal being scored after only 30 seconds.

By half time Chelsea were 2-0 up, and by 62 minutes it was 3-0. Mourinho’s humiliation was complete when Chelsea made it 4-0 in the 71st minute. The win takes Chelsea up to 4th place in the table, just one point behind leaders Manchester City. Manchester United stay in 7th place.


José Mourinho’s Manchester United were thrashed on his first return to Stamford Bridge since being sacked by Chelsea last December.

Manchester City have not registered a win in a month, after flying out of the blocks in their first 6 games they have hit a speed bump. Arsenal and Liverpool are equal with them on points, leaving the title wide open with a quarter of the season gone. It is all to play for!

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Later today Chelsea will take on Manchester City in what will be, so far, the biggest match of the season. Currently Chelsea are 5 points clear of Man City, who are their closest rivals at the top of the English Premiership. If Chelsea can win at home today they will go 8 points clear, but if they lose the lead will be cut to only 2 points.

Chelsea go into the game after a shock defeat last weekend in the FA Cup at home to lowly Bradford City, a game they lost 4-2 making it their heaviest defeat at home under Jose Mourinho. A fortnight ago they thrashed Swansea City 5-0 away, and they have also had two mid-week games against Liverpool in the semifinals of the League Cup, drawing the away leg 1-1 and winning the home leg 1-0.

Manchester City go into the game playing their first match since their shock FA Cup defeat last weekend to Middlesborough 2-0 and their home defeat to Arsenal 2-0 the weekend before. So, on paper, Chelsea should be the more confident side with a better recent record. But, today’s game will probably mostly be about who can handle the pressure the better – with such importance riding on the game. In this respect I expect Chelsea to come out on top, as Mourinho is the master tactician and sides he coaches usually can handle the big occasions masterfully. But, we will know later today – kick off is at 17:30 GMT.


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On Saturday (17th of January), Chelsea faced Swansea away at the Liberty Stadium. Normally, as a Welshman, I want Wales’ only Premiership team to win; except when it comes to playing Chelsea. Chelsea got off to a dream start, with Oscar scoring within the first minute, and by half time they were 4-0 ahead. The second half saw only one goal, with Chelsea finishing with a 5-0 victory. Mourinho described Chelsea’s performance as a “perfect game”.

Jose Mourinho described Chelsea's 5-0 victory over Swansea as a "perfect game".

Jose Mourinho described Chelsea’s 5-0 victory over Swansea as a “perfect game”.

Chelsea had a disappointing run of games over the Christmas and New Year period, including a 1-1 draw against Southampton on the 28th of December, and a 5-3 defeat to Spurs on New Year’s day. This relatively poor run led to Chelsea only getting 4 points from the available 9. Their closest rivals, Manchester City, got 7 points from a possible 9 in the same three-match period, and drew level with Chelsea in the table. But, since then, Chelsea have won both of their Premiership games (and an FA Cup game), whereas Manchester City have stuttered with a 1-1 away draw against Everton last weekend and a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal yesterday.

This now leaves Chelsea 5 points clear at the top of the Premiership, and with impeccable timing the two meet in a fortnight’s time in a game which could leave Chelsea 8 points clear should they defeat their closest rivals. Between now and then, Chelsea have a home and away League Cup semi-final against Liverpool and an FA Cup 4th Round match against Bradford.

The complete English Premiership table as of Sunday the 18th of January. Chelsea are 5 points clear of their closest rivals, Manchester City.

The complete English Premiership table as of Sunday the 18th of January. Chelsea are 5 points clear of their closest rivals, Manchester City.

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On Saturday Chelsea lost 2-1 away to Newcastle United, and in doing so lost their first game of the season in any competition. Prior to Saturday’s game, in the Premiership they had played 14 matches, and had won 11 and drawn 3, with no defeats. This record went on Saturday with defeat to Newcastle and, with Manchester City winning, Chelsea’s lead at the top of the Premiership has been cut from 6 to 3 points.


In the lead-up to Saturday’s game Chelsea’s manager Jose Mourinho stirred things up by saying that Newcastle only really competed against Chelsea, and in their other matches acted as if they were playing friendlies! I can only assume that Mourinho was trying to deflect pressure away from his players, as I’m sure the whole Chelsea camp have felt the weight of expectations increase as their season continued without a defeat.

In fact, Mourinho has never won with Chelsea at Newcastle’s Saint James Park, and he would have been well aware of this. I’m not too sure, but I suspect Newcastle are the only Premier team where Mourinho is yet to register an away win. He is recently quoted as saying that going the whole season undefeated was “an impossible task”, and it may be that having now suffered their first defeat of the season a weight will be lifted off of his and his team’s shoulders.

It was before I started this blog, but I do vividly remember Arsenal’s undefeated Premiership season in 2004/05, which was truly a remarkable achievement. I also remember having a discussion with some friends around Easter 2005 when Arsenal were still in the F.A. Cup and Champions League, and Wenger had to decide which of the three competitions to prioritise with 3 games in the space of a week (one in each of the competitions). My own take was that he should prioritise retaining the unbeaten Premiership record, as it had not been done in over 100 years. As it turned out, it was the only one of the three in which they succeeded, but going a whole season undefeated in the league is a far greater achievement in my opinion than winning any knock-out cup.

On paper, Chelsea have a relatively easy next four games. Tomorrow (Wednesday) they play Sporting Lisbon at home in the Champions League, followed by what should be a straight forward Premiership match against Hull at home on Saturday (13th). On Tuesday the 16th they have an away match against Derby in the League Cup, and then a break of almost a week before they play Stoke away in the Premiership on Monday the 22nd. As I say, on paper these four matches should be straightforward for Chelsea, but then again on paper they should have defeated Newcastle.

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After winning all of their previous games this season, the Ospreys went down to a heavy defeat on Saturday to Northampton. Ironically it was Welshman George North who ensured the size of the loss, he ran in four tries to given his Northampton side a 34-6 win. With such a heavy defeat, one has to ask whether this was because the Ospreys were having an off day, or is this indicative of the gulf between their previous opposition and Northampton? Maybe it’s a bit of both?


Chelsea, on the other hand, have hung on to their unbeaten record. They came within a hair’s breadth of winning, Man United scored their equaliser 6 minutes into added time. Although I’m sure Chelsea are disappointed to have let in an equaliser so late in the game, the main thing is that they are still unbeaten. It leaves them four points clear at the top of the Premiership, but with Man City losing over the weekend the surprise is that Southampton are now in 2nd place.


Chelsea recorded a record 6-0 win in the Champions League in mid-week, so it is certainly fair to say that their season thus far is going just about as well as any fan could wish for.

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Manchester City yesterday won the English Premiership for the second time in three seasons. Up until a week or so ago the destination of the title was still uncertain, with Man City, Liverpool and even Chelsea all with a chance of winning it. But, with Liverpool slipping up last Monday against Crystal Palace, the momentum swung back to Man City who never looked like letting the title slip from their grasp.

Manchester City win the English Premiership title for the second time in three seasons.

Manchester City win the English Premiership title for the second time in three seasons.

It wasn’t quite as dramatic a season finale as two years ago, when Man City won the title in added time, but with three teams still in the title hunt with only two weeks to go, it has been one of the most exciting seasons in many years. The final standings see Man City take the title, Liverpool second, Chelsea third and Arsenal fourth. Manchester United finish outside of the top four for the first time in many years, and finished the season with Ryan Giggs as interim manager after sacking David Moyes.

My own team, Chelsea, had a pretty good season all things considered. They got to the semi-finals of the Champions League, and finished third in the Premiership, and all that without the strikers that José Mourinho knows his team needs. I am sure he will buy wisely over the summer, and target winning the Premiership as the main aim for next year.

Will Liverpool be able to build on the success of this season? They came within a win of taking their first ever Premiership title, and their first top flight title since 1990. For a team that until recently were the most successful team in domestic football, to have not won a title in 24 years must be pretty galling. But, Brendan Rodgers seems to have instilled a style of play in Liverpool which could well see them build on the success of this season and go on to win the title next season.

Man City will be hoping to fulfil the destiny that their huge money promises – a dominance of English football. Two titles in three years is a start, but critics would argue that they won it this year because Manchester United are rebuilding and Chelsea didn’t have a potent strike force.

Arsenal once again finish within the top four, which I think means they have now qualified for the Champions League seventeen seasons in a row! They haven’t won any silverware in nearly a decade, but that may change soon as they are in the F.A. Cup Final and are odds-on favourites to win.

I have a feeling that the 2014/15 season is going to be even better than this one!

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The final games of the 2012/13 English Premiership Season have been played. All games kicked off at 4pm yesterday (Sunday the 19th of May). Although the champions (Manchester United) and runners up (Manchester City) were already decided going into yesterday’s matches, as were the 3 teams to be relegated (Wigan, Reading and QPR), who was to finish in 3rd, 4th and 5th was still to be decided.

Going into yesterday, Chelsea were in 3rd, Arsenal in 4th and Tottenham Hotspur in 5th. With all 3 teams winning, that is how it finished. This means Arsenal qualify for the Champions League for a remarkable 16th consecutive time.

Arsenal beat Newcastle United 1-0 away from home, to qualify for the Champions League for the 16th consecutive time.

Arsenal beat Newcastle United 1-0 away from home, to qualify for the Champions League for the 16th consecutive time.

This also means that, despite a phenomenal season by Wales’ Gareth Bale, who won the PFA Player of the year award, Spurs miss out on Champions League football for the second season in a row. Last year, despite finishing in the top 4, they lost their spot to Chelsea who won the Champions League and thus were allowed to defend their title despite finishing 5th in the Premiership. Speculation is rife whether Bale will stay at Spurs, or move to a club who stand a chance of winning the Champions League. Certainly there are many clubs who would want his incredible talent, and Spurs will have no shortage of offers for him.

The final top 10 of the English Premiership for the 2012/13 season.

The final top 10 of the English Premiership for the 2012/13 season.

Of the 4 clubs who finished in the top four, only Arsenal will start next season with the same manager. With the retirement of Man U’s Alex Ferguson, Wenger becomes the longest serving manager at a given club by a long way. Man U have already lined up Ferguson’s replacement, Everton’s David Moyes. Who will be managing Manchester City and Chelsea next season is still to be announced, although speculation is rife that Malaga’s Manuel Pellegrini is heading to Man City, and Real Madrid’s José Mourinho is heading back to Chelsea. We shall have to wait and see.

From a Welsh point of view, Swansea have done very well in finishing in the top 10, playing some of the most attractive football in the Premiership. Worryingly for Swansea fans, their manager Michael Laudrup is being linked with a possible move to Everton to fill the vacancy David Moyes’ departure creates.

Next season, Swansea will be joined by Cardiff, meaning there will be two Welsh clubs in the top flight of English football for the first time ever. With Gareth Bale having been universally acclaimed as the best player in the English Premiership this season, and Swansea winning the League Cup, Cardiff’s comfortable winning of the Championship title has meant this has been one of the best seasons ever for Welsh football.

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This Sunday morning saw the final of the Rugby World Cup, between New Zealand and France. My son needed to be in Barry by 8:30am, so I decided to go for a run along the Heritage Coast from Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major – how did the name “Illtud” become “twit” to the English??). I watched the game later via the internet on ITV’s “catchup” service.

My run was very different from last week’s Cardiff half marathon, where I ran with more than 12,000 others. I saw barely a soul during my 10 mile run, and only had the sound of the sea off the coast for audio company. Meanwhile, in Eden Park Auckland, 60,000 odd rugby fans were watching the New Zealand v France final unfold. France had gone into the final as heavy underdogs, having just beaten Wales 9-8 in the Semi Final match last weekend, whereas NZ had looked impressive in all their matches.

To say that France raised their game for the final would be an understatement. For most of the game they were by far the better team, and it ended in an 8-7 victory for NZ. I would imagine most Kiwis had bitten their nails down to the bone in the last 15 minutes, as France were very much in the ascendency. But, NZ clung on, and so won their 2nd rugby World Cup, having won the inaugural one in 1987 against the same finalists.

Closer to home, Manchester to be precise, was the scene for another sporting contest, the Manchester football derby. Manchester United have dominated English football for the last 20 years, in fact last season saw them overtake Liverpool to become the club which has won the most league titles in English football. But, a few years ago Man City were bought by an investment group from Abu Dhabi, which has led to their having basically unlimited financial resources and many World-class signings. Yesterday’s derby was at Old Trafford, Man U’s fortress where they rarely lose, and had not lost for 18 months.

The final score was 1-6 to Man City. Yes, six-one to Man City! This is, apparently, Man U’s heaviest home defeat in several decades, their largest since the English Premiership came into being in 1992. Alex Ferguson, Man U’s manager, described it as an embarrassment and the worst result in his playing or coaching career. To say Man U were thrashed would be an understatement, they were annihilated.

As a Chelsea fan, this is all very interesting. Unfortunately Chelsea lost too over the weekend, to QPR, but surely Man U’s confidence must be in tatters after such a defeat. With Chelsea in 3rd, only 1 point behind Man U, surely 2nd place beckons for the Blues.

The weekend just shows that one can never predict sport, which is one of the reasons I find it so compelling. I only hope Wales manage to outscore Australia by a factor or 6 when we play them in Cardiff on the 3rd of Decemeber!


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