For the last six or seven seasons, Arsenal have been the most entertaining side in the English Premier League but on more than one occasion their effectiveness has failed their flair. But things have imbibed a different hue this season and as the English Premier League 2007-2008 crawls into Week 16, it is Arsene Wenger’s exciting team that conquers the pole position.
Arsenal are one of the only two sides yet to be beaten in the Premiership and have won four games out of a possible 7. So no doubt that Monsieur Arsene Wenger is all smiles as the Gunners prepare themselves for a trip to the Riverside to face third from bottom Middlesbrough. The Gunners have been as much effective as enthralling this season as they exhibited in that 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park last week, they do have the ability to stage a comeback too. Arsenal are top with 37 points from 15 matches, having scored 12 away goals while coincidentally workmanlike Boro have conceded the same number at home. So still trying to figure out who the favourites are for this match?
4 points behind Arsenal are their eternal rivals Manchester United. Man United are yet to gallop into top gear with Cristiano Ronaldo yet to spread his wings wide, Wayne Rooney still appearing frustrated at times and Carlos Tevez just settling into the side. But Sir Alex Ferguson’s boys ought to be able to get past rock bottom Derby with ease. New manager Paul Jewell stared with a 1-0 away defeat at Sunderland last week and must be prepared to swallow another away loss. Chelsea are just 2 points behind Man United in third and have consistently improved both in terms of resuls and playing style since Avram Grabnt took over. Like Man United, the Blues too play on Sunday and at home; Roy Keane’s Sunderland are their opposition, The Black Cats made a good enough start but inconsistency had led them to fall to within just a couple of points of the relegation zone.
Fourth placed Liverpool and fifth placed Manchester City both are away from home this weekend. Rafael Benitez would be much boosted by the support his players have demonstrated for him this week as he takes his rejuvenated Reds side for a trip to 13th placed Reading. Meanwhile, Sven-Goran Eriksson’s City level on points with Liverpool, travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday when Juande Ramos would continue his endeavor to weave his Sevilla magic with Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs have been woeful at best in the Premiership so far this season. So much so Spurs are just 1 point above safety in 14th place and although no one with sense is putting his money on Spurs to go down this season, a European place is virtually out of question.
The most interesting and possibly dullest encounter of the weekend is at the other end of the tunnel. In a relegation 6-pointer, Bolton Wanderers not so much welcome Wigan Athletic at the Reebok Stadium as conspire to stab wherever they can. Bolton and Wigan have scored a total of 25 goals between them so fat this season and have conceded 49. While only goal difference separates Bolton from the drop, Wigan are 19th in the table with just 9 points from 11 matches.
In other matches in the English Premiership this weekend, UEFA Cup hopefuls Aston Villa and Portsmouth lock horns at Villa Park, Everton entertain Fulham, Newcastle United take on Birmingham City and supposedly safe West Ham United are on the road to mid table Blackburn Rovers.
Copy-paste the list of matches below into the comments box and tell us who you think will win this weekend.
Aston Villa v Portsmouth
Chelsea v Sunderland
Everton v Fulham
Manchester United v Derby County
Newcastle United v Birmingham City
Reading v Liverpool
Middlesbrough v Arsenal
Bolton v Wigan
Tottenham v Manchester City
Blackburn v West Ham