Poor away form?
Or just plain bad luck?
Try as you might, you can’t ‘explain away’ today’s defeats. Liverpool’s defeat at Emirates was eerily similar in impact, if not in play, of Chelsea’s win at Stamford Bridge against Manchester United on 29th April of this year. It made a resounding statement, that Chelsea were the better team, that even after beating everyone else, Manchester United still came up short.
Arsenal have not only found their goal-scoring touch, but they’ve also shown that they’re a better side, because when it really mattered, Liverpool just couldn’t stand up and be counted. The fact that Arsenal themselves are some distance behind United and Chelsea tells you another story:
Liverpool, for all that they have done under Rafa, are still the 4th best side in the Premiership. Arsenal’s blip last year was unfortunate – they’re back this year, and Liverpool are (not-so-surprisingly), under the cosh.
Tottenham, if anything, are even more frustrating. They were in the lead against Reading – a side that has been battered from the top four right down to the bottom half of the table – and then threw it away because they couldn’t cope with Reading’s sheer determination. The defence is good but if the midfield can’t provide any protection, and most importantly, if the Tottenham players refuse to fight back, they’re not going to match their high pre-season expectations.
After beating Chelsea at home this was a sobering experience for Tottenham – they can’t just turn it on at home, and they are not always going to be as lucky as they were against Chelsea. Tottenham played brilliantly for the first 30 minutes against Reading, but that’s it.
It all comes down to consistency, and both Liverpool and Tottenham aren’t consistent enough.
Thing is, after the midweek international, there is a long string of games till February – 3 months of 2 games a week football, and if these teams are lagging behind now it’s going to be very difficult to catch up with the top 3 during December and January.
What are their expectations now? Liverpool are surely out of the title race, so they must be looking to secure 4th spot. Tottenham? Well, with Bolton, Aston Villa, Everton and Portsmouth all playing better than them, Tottenham are looking at 9th place right now. Not good enough for the talent at their disposal, not good enough at all.