Sports - Football - Premier League - Final Picks of the Season
So, I haven't blogged in a while and we have already reached the end of the season. A lot has happened over the last month-or-two, so these are my overall picks of the last weeks and season:
Hero: Roy Hodgson and Harry Redknapp are the obvious picks for their achievements at Fulham and Tottenham, reaching the Europa League final and Champions League place respectively.
However, I think Gianfranco Zola should be recognised and lauded just as much for keeping West Ham up under extraordinarily difficult and chaotic circumstances. Most importantly, he kept a good relationship with the players all the way through and to kept them going. The more surprised I was to find out he has been sacked this morning!
Zero: Dirk Kuyt and Dimitar Berbatov have certainly annoyed me most this season! Being over-over-over-paid for their moaning, diving, whining and being bad losers. Rafael Benitez has also to take a real close look at himself. With Rick Parry's departure from Liverpool he was able to clear and reorganise the back room to his will and choice and look what it has brought him. You can always lay the blame to the ownership fiasco, but that does not hold and directly influence everything what is going on on the pitch - it is the players and the coaches, who are all overlooked and coached by the manager.
Champs: As mentioned above, Fulham and Tottenham have to be lauded for their over-achievements. So too Chelsea for their fourth title, first since the departure of the "Great One". But the sides that have surprised me most are Arsenal and Birmingham. I thought the Gunners were going to be the first to drop out of the top four and the Blues I saw battling relegation - how wrong was I! Arsenal will not be happy with their slip late-on in the season, but it came to no surprise looking at the lack of depth and back-up options in their squad - something they will have to look into and change if they do not want yet another repeat of their slip and fall.
Birmingham will be dreaming of a European spot next season, see what/who they will do/change/buy/sell to see that happen, especially interesting and intriguing as they could not be happier with the display, performances and results of their current squad.
Has-Beens: Liverpool were not even a shadow of the side they were last season whilst Portsmouth and West Ham fought on through the storm, holding their heads up high - the prior failing to avoid the drop whilst the latter was able to withstand all the counterweight.
I know Liverpool the Reds have had their problems and turmoil with their owners, the board, their debts, etc., but as a club of such prestige, history, success, large fan base, global reputation et al, it was sad to see the ship sink so low with hardly any fight or uproar.
You Beauty: So many goals! So many thrashes! Chelsea broke all record books with their 108 goals, achieving that last but not least with their 8-0 destruction of Wigan. Not to forget the 7-goal thrashings of Sunderland, Stoke and Aston Villa, also by the champions; Manchester City putting 5 and 6 past Birmingham and Burnley respectively; Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham also enjoying their 5, 6 and/or 7 goal thriller-wins. There were so many goal-feasts this season and juicy and action-packed encounters, it is impossible for me just pin it down to one or two!
Ouch! Referees, own goals and divers - this season these three top my lists of outrage, cringes, complaints and criticism. In this day and age where the cameras and advanced technology pick everything and everyone in the finest detail in the matter of seconds, I cannot believe that they cannot be used to assist and support the officials, prevent very unfair and costly errors and stop the cheaters and whiners.
And finally, to see where my picks have come from, here is a comparison table of the last to seasons. It obviously does not include Birmingham, Wolves or Burnley as they were not part of the Premier League last season. Birmingham have certainly exceeded all expectations ending up ninth, whilst Wolves avoided relegation quite comfortably in the end, 8 points clear in 15th place, and Portsmouth, well, they faced an impossible job to stay up, with or without the 9-point-deduction, they had a too high mountain to climb to avoid the drop.
So, the table shows all 17 teams that were in the Premier League in both seasons, comparing how they fared in the 38 games of both seasons. The + and - numbers indicate how many games they won, drew and lost and how many goals they scored and conceded more or less, and finally how many points they gained or lost consequently. It just shows how bad the season has been for Liverpool...
+7 wins, -2 draws, -5 defeats; +22 goals, -4 conceded; +19 points
2) Man City: +3, +8, -11; +15, -5; +17
3) Blackburn: +3, 0, -3; +1, -5; +9
4) Sunderland: +2, +2, -4; +14, -2; +8
5) Chelsea: +2, -3, +1; +35, +8; +3
6) Arsenal: +3, -6, +3; +15, +4; +3
7) Aston Villa: 0, +2, -2; -2, -9; +2
8) Stoke City: -1, +5, -4; -4, -7; +2
9) Everton: -1, +1, 0; +5, +12; -2
10) Bolton: -1, +1, 0; +1, +14; -2
11) Man Utd: -1, -2, +3; +18, +4; -5
12) Hull City: -2, +1, +1; +6, +16; -5
13) Fulham: -2, -1, +3; 0, +12; -7
14) Wigan: -3, 0, +3; -3, +34; -9
15) West Ham: -6, +2, +4; +5, +21; -16
16) Portsmouth: -3, -4, +7; -4, +9; -22 (includes the 9-point deduction)
17) Liverpool: -7, -2, +9; -16, +8; -23
Total Goals scored: 1053 this season, 942 last season; +111