Chelsea and Manchester United are locked in an enthralling league title chase, but they’ll put it aside tonight to play the most important games of their season.
For Chelsea, Champions League is the holy grail. For Manchester United, the title means a lot, but to return to the Champions League semi-finals after so many recent failures in Europe will play a big part in boosting their morale for the last 6 league games.
Today we’ll look at the two Champions League games plus all the other news for today.
Starting off with Champions League coverage:
Each page is updated with game previews and latest news.
Now on to the regular news for today.
1. Chelsea vs Manchester – the title race heats up
Yesterday the Guardian had an interesting piece interviewing Nigel Winterburn and Robert Lee and getting different perspectives on what it was like to be on both sides of the title race – the 96 Newcastle side that lost their 12 point lead and the 98 Arsenal side that caught up with Manchester United after being 12 points behind.
Is it relevant to the current Chelsea v Manchester United title race? I don’t think so, because a) the gap has never been that great and b) United have had one upset in the last dozen league games, similar as the ‘one’ upset Chelsea had way back in December that pulled the lead to 6 points. People were crying murder then, they’re crying murder now.
The two away games – Everton and Manchester City – are right before the Chelsea game, so it will get tougher. Ferguson’s comments – that Chelsea must fail – make him sound like a man beaten and hoping on others to slip up, but in fairness he is correct – Chelsea will slip up in one of their last six games. But that won’t matter if Manchester United get 15 points from the last 18.
2. Newcastle 0-0 Arsenal
Newcastle and Arsenal played such a boring game that the poor BBC Sports columnist who was forced to watch the game on Easter Monday could not hold back on his sarcasm. The article is polite, but by BBC standards it is absolutely scathing about the (lack of) effort from both sides.
Arsenal have one big game left – the one against Chelsea. It’ll be interesting to see if they can get something out of that one.
3. Sunderland are top and Championship title favourites
What Sunderland have achieved this season is the stuff of dreams. From bottom to the top with cold, meticulous effectiveness spiked with extraordinary passion and the ability to pull results out of nothing. A reflection, people say, of their manager, Roy Keane.
As things stand right now, Sunderland are top, a point clear, and if they get 12 points out of their last 4 games they are champs. Knowing the opposition, they probably just need 9 or 10 points, but they’ll probably win all 4 games and go to the Premiership with a bang.
4. Where are the Glazers?
Hicks and Gillett have turned their purchase of Liverpool into a PR experiment, making all the right noises and pandering to the fans. Roman Abramovich managed the same without talking directly to the press and his regular presence in the directors’ box coupled with his lavish spending has made him a hero.
The Glazers, on the other hand, are both hated and notable by their absence from Manchester United games. As Oliver Kay writes, the Glazers made all the right noises when they bought Manchester United but have not seen many games, nor have they spoken directly to the supporters or the media.
It could be because of the fan backlash – then again it could be because the Glazers don’t see any need to supplant Fergie and Gill as the club’s mouthpieces.
Whatever the case, United’s recent success means that we’re doing much better this year than expected in the initial budget (3rd place in Prem, last 16 in CL and 4th rounds of the two cups) and hopefully it will translate into more investment into the stadium (make it bigger!) and the squad.
5. Other News
- AEK Athens president wants Greek clubs banned from Europe to force them to address football violence.
- Sid Lowe writes about Real Zaragoza’s Milito brothers and the impact of Zaragoza’s win over Barca to the La Liga title race. It’s a pity that he’s so painful to read because otherwise it’s quite an informational piece.
- Everton’s James Vaughan is fine after rupturing an artery during the Bolton-Everton game. He scored, got Meite’s studs stuck in his leg, bled on the pitch, got stiched up but it burst open again so he went to the hospital and got stiched up properly. Reportedly he’s ok now, although we’ll know more about recovery time by the weekend.
- Remember David Jones, the kid we all wanted to stay at Manchester United? He’s doing quite well at Derby now. Steve Claridge takes a closer look.
- Mind games from Wenger has he says that Bolton don’t have it in them to catch up with Arsenal. I’m sure they don’t Arsene, but does Arsenal have the chops to get 10 points out of their last 6 games and secure Champions League football for next season?
- On another day I’d rant about this – Paul Jewell is now complaining that refs are biased against him because of what he did with Phil Dowd. Someone go up to him and explain these two concepts: ‘consequences’ and ‘holding your trap shut’. Wigan are a good side but Jewell has been petty and vindictive this season. Not fun to watch at all.
- If you haven’t been watching, Watford beat Portsmouth 4-2 last night at Vicarage Road. Despite the fact that Pompey were playing two days after their game at Old Trafford, it puts the whole thing into perspective, doesn’t it?
- Myles Palmer asks a good question: What are Arsenal’s values?
- Richard Scudamore writes to Richard Caborn and warns him that the threat of a European super league is real. The short argument is this – Uefa’s and EU’s insistence on governing the domestic leagues will cause the top clubs to break away and form their own league. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.
- In the Atletico Madrid – Villareal game over the weekend, Villareal striker Franco went down near the the goal line injured, Madrid collected the clearance and proceeded to score from it, Franco playing the scorer Eller onside. Simon Baskett from the Reuters Soccer blog has more on this.
7. Soccerlens Coverage
- Manchester United vs Roma (agg: 1-2) at Old Trafford
- Valencia vs Chelsea (agg: 1-1) at Mestalla
- Should Manchester United sell Saha this summer?