A PORTRAIT

December 13, 2007 |

What a game! Should we coo? Oh yes, we should! Putting four (that’s quatre for our French brethren) past a Marseilles team that has inhospitably beaten the last six English visitors to the Stade Velodrome – and bested Liverpool at Anfield – is quite the emphatic shout for “Hell Oui!”
Anyway, enough crowing. Match reports and plaudits abound. Liverpool is back in the round of sixteen and we look good again. ‘Nuff said.
It has been brought to my attention, and rightfully so, that there are other teams worthy of mention in the EPL this year. It is easy to forget their plights in the heady days that has been Liverpool’s 07/08 season already this year.
Man City for one. We should’ve sat up and taken notice when they beat their cross-town rivals United in the early goings of the fiscal year. Because make no mistake, if they keep it up for the rest of the season, they will be in Europe next year in some capacity. And that means money.
Not that it guarantees success, but it should be noted that the cash infusion from ex-Thailand Premier, Thaksin Shinawatra, and his bags of questionably-acquired loot has precipitated a change in fortune for the perennial middle-of-the-loggers who haven’t won anything of worth since things were still in black and white.
Perhaps it is the inclusion of ex-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. Or it might have been the reported ₤38m spent in the summer months prior to the season. But in all fairness, this is a team of unnotables that are performing a more than notable job and are baying at the heels of the usual suspects atop the table.
Another team with a post-acquisition wind fall, West Ham, seems to have rebounded from their relegation scandal quite nicely and is sitting in the middle of the charts with another spectacularly unsexy EPL assortment of players and manager that are getting it done.
(The whole issue of “boutique teams” and foreign ownership is an issue for another day and irate Englishmen.)
Portsmouth, all on their own, are doing great things. Okay, great might be a bit hyperbolic, but they are doing the business. By beating the teams they should and taking a few away from ones they shouldn’t (Liverpool, thanks to David Bloody James) they are closer to the top of the charts than many probably gave them credit for.
Chelsea, it must be said, is languishing by the International Half-A-Billion Sterling Standard. After burgling a draw against Liverpool in the early stages of the season, they have looked fairly unimpressive and quite beatable. And yes, they are still ahead of Liverpool.
Everton is there and thereabouts as they always are. David Moyes had a legitimate gripe about the result against Liverpool because of the poor officiating. But then again, it seems like everyone has a legitimate complaint about the quality of refereeing this year.
Spurs are the only real “they’re where?” squad so far. It was only a game with another suspect decision that has lifted them out of the relegation zone. A team with that much talent should be higher up the log. Actually, they should be near the top of it.
All in all, it has proven to be a fairly entertaining domestic season so far. Anytime the “Big Four” aren’t way out in front makes for interesting viewing. Of course, one (me) would love to see Liverpool maybe a few points closer to Arsenal and about twenty ahead of Man U, but one must abide.

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