Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Out with the old, in with new (year)

After an exciting festive period, I guess its only natural that epoch’s finale was rather forgettable. Only Wigan’s draw with Liverpool was mildly surprising, and Tottenham’s gift to Aston Villa was actually entertaining. One could notice the exhaustion of the players, and it showed in the score lines: no team scoring more than three goals, seven teams not scoring any.

Nevertheless, with 2007 over and 2008 to look – dare I say forward? – to, here are some events that I hereby predict will occur (or come rather close):

Berbatov is Bulgarian, and Anelka is French, for ‘Nothing Less than 15-million”.
Perhaps this prediction is a bit obvious, but there’s no way either will be in their respected squads come February. Putting aside the tactless and untimely admission by Berb’s agent, Berbatov simply isn’t enjoying playing footy for Spurs. And one needs to look no further than his body language whenever one of his teammates can’t handle a pass of his, or screws up another way – he openly sulks on the field. He is scoring a multitude of goals and is one of the BPL’s best strikers, but he behavior has to be killing the chemistry on the pitch. Ramos is telling the papers he wants him, but he is surely surreptitiously shopping around for a replacement. And Anelka, well that’s obvious. Someone of his class doesn’t deserve Megson’s dour Wanderers.

Speaking of Bolton...
The (impending) loss of Anelka may seem disastrous but their home record will see them to safety. Of their 11 games at the Reebok they’ve only lost three times at home, conceding just nine goals. Victories over Manchester United and those around them (e.g. Brum, Reading, Derby, Wigan) have proven quite beneficial. They do need to slowly improve their horrible Away form by April, as they play three matches that month as visitors.

The only ones preventing Manchester United from winning the title is…Manchester United.
The same also applies for Arsenal, but ManYoo are just a better side and should surpass the Gooners anytime now. Collapses a la Upton Park probably wont happen again, but even draws equal dropped points that always prove costly. Just recall Chelsea’s run of average form against Newcastle and Bolton at the end of last season.

Big Sam isn’t going anywhere.
His reign has been very disappointing, but who are they viably going to replace him with? And do opponents actually think that Newcastle will compete for any silverware or European tournaments if some messiah takes over anyway? Unless one of the big four don’t win either the Carling or FA Cup(s), Everton, Villa, or ManCity/ Liverpool have the UEFA Cup spots all wrapped up. And Pompey will probably attempt the Intertoto, so just enjoy not being relegation fodder and see how the rest of the season pans out. If you’re lower than you are now, then go look for a replacement.

Liverpool need to win the Champions League, because they ain’t qualifying for it otherwise.
In addition to obtaining Castillo, Sven is going to spend big on key acquisitions that should see ManCity into the Champions League Qualifiers. ManCity do need to improve their away form, but the only big road test is the Manchester Derby and a visit to Anfield on May 3 (which is going to be a HUGE match). Liverpool displayed lack of killer instinct, and tactical cohesion, against Wigan. And although Rafa may ask for more players, nothing is going to really change. The Reds have to travel to Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United, and Rafa’s poor record against those is quite foreboding.

The Wire will conclude as the #1 TV show. Ever.
Totally unfooty-related, but with its fifth (and final) season airing this coming Sunday, January 6th, expect the kitchen sink. Its not just a simple narrative or television program, but it transcends its digital images to become a historical social document and its going to have a big impact in the coming decades. The realness portrayed through the images and characters is unparallel. Even shows of its guild – Law & Order and CSI – are silly fluff in comparison. Will Marlo’s reign of terror finally conclude? Will McNulty go off the deep end (again)? Will Carcetti actually change the city? Is the focus on the media going to add another level to the story, or just be Simon’s tangential polemic against his former occupation? I can’t wait to see!