Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's a Party, It's a Party, It's a Party

PART TWO: So Hood-Rich

The teams mentioned in part one are the squads who I believe will flirt with relegation this season, some merely casting a saucy look while three others will wind up getting it pregnant behind the middle school. Though Newcastle’s start has been very bright I do not see their momentum lasting. With their lack of depth, especially in terms of scoring, a steep drop is all but a lock at this point. Additionally, their schedule up until this point has been very light, with Spurs posing the only real challenge. As for Arsenal, it’s altogether possible that van Persie’s goals will carry them back near the table’s summit, but fuck those guys anyway. Part two deals with the teams whose relegation ranges from “unlikely” to “possibly prohibited by the Magna Carta”.

EVERTON: They’re in pretty nasty shape at the moment but always finish strong. Including Drenthe in the first eleven will provide them with a sense of innovation so far lacking. With Coleman tearing along the sideline and Fellaini predatory in the center of the park Drenthe should have a decent amount of space to practice his witchcraft. They still have little in the way of goal scorers, but their midfield depth and typically solid central defense, not to mention the Dudley Moore stylings of adventurous wingback Leighton Baines, will see them through, albeit in a lower position than in the past few seasons.

FULHAM: Thank Gaia they snatched up Bryan Ruiz. That he should flop for them and not Spurs, who wisely avoided the Costa Rican, is a mitzvah. At over 10 million Euros and still unable to displace the persistently beyond-their-depth up-front duo of Andy “The Bald Damien Duff” Johnson and Bobby Zamora, I could see a Mauro Boselli-esque failure on the cards. His chipped goal against Everton was a rare bright spot. No matter who coaches them they’re still built to draw rather than to win, a lack of ambition that paints them as more of a Championship-level squad. Maybe a switch to Serie A would help? They’re essentially the Chievo of West London at this point. I’m pretty sure Brede Hangeland’s nickname is “The Flying Donkey”.

STOKE CITY: Stoke are for real. Clearly evolving from the Neanderthal template of their first few years in the Premier League, these homos erectus have incorporated enough Lilliputian ingenuity into their land-of-giants framework to make a case for a strong, perhaps top-8 finish. Pennant and Etherington work very well on the wings, crossing into the likes of Crouchy and Kenwyne Jones. Looming without being lumbering both up front and in the back, their spine is something of a concern as they lack a real playmaker in the middle.

NORWICH CITY: The chances of Norwich maintaining their early-season form are very small. The chances that Canaries supporters will adapt “Squalor Victoria’ by The National into a stadium anthem? Hopefully 100%! Whereas Swansea’s naïveté became all too apparent in their late draw to Wolves, Norwich’s resolve at Anfield pegs them as genuinely worthy of the big time. The back four have holes, especially the unwieldy Leon Barnett, but Hoolahan and Pilkington and Holt have shown decisiveness and bravery in their forward movement. The fact that Holt isn’t reeeealy built like a rugby player but still manages to look like one should come in handy when facing teams scared of walrus faces. They’ve demonstrated laudable composure, if not many points, from their tough early fixture list, a quality which bodes well for their survival.

LIVERPOOL: They’ve spent a bunch, not produced many correspondingly quality results and lack steel at the back. The folly of simultaneously signing young flyweight midfielders Henderson, Downing and Adam without adding to their frequently mangled defense isn’t in the same realm as the Eagles picking up DRC and Nnamdi at the same time in terms of befuddling redundancy, but like Andy’s refusal to upgrade the linebacking corps it’s been a major impediment. Suarez has yet to gel with Carroll and as such his sneaky runs frequently find no outlet. Additionally, he’s a total bitch. Liverpool are still smarting from the departures of Lil’ Masch and Xabi Alonso in the middle, with Lucas still unconvincing as a one-man replacement for Alonso’s passing vision and Mascherano’s balding dickery.

WEST BROM: Shane Long is out for a while, which hurts them a lot but coming off consecutive local derby wins and getting the killer Peter Odemwingie back should paper the cracks. I think that Foster is a terribly underrated keeper, though the number of rad saves he makes may be something of a consequence of WBA’s suspect rearguard. They’ll have to make do with Brunt or Cox playing off Odemwingie until Long returns but this is a squad with a very nice combination of young talent and old bastards who have nothing better to do.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: I think we can finish fourth this year, above Liverpool and the unfortunately improving Arsenal. We should’ve had fourth last year but Champions League activity and the absence of quality strikers hurt immensely in that awful run of draws against the Blackpools and West Hams of the league. That same feeling crept in as we held on tenuously at Blackburn this past weekend but it’s a sign of how much Adebayor has helped that we actually kept the lead. Despite not getting on the score sheet the threat he provides up front kept Blackburn somewhat honest, at least compared to the negligible danger represented by Pav or Peter “The Human Jackknife” Crouch. Picking up a center back, if not two, is a certain necessity in the upcoming transfer window. Kaboul has been decent but lord help us if Corluka or Bassong have to become regular replacements in the long absences of Gallas, Dawson and, inevitably and very unfortunately, King.

CHELSEA, MANCHESTER UNITED AND MANCHESTER CITY: They will all probably stay up. Right? Chelsea’s certainly lost at least a step from their title-winning three-peat but will most likely hold on to third as Spurs manage to fuck it up towards the end of the year. If City hold their nerve the title is theirs, especially given the unsteady construction United’s midfield. But really, whatever. The struggle for survival is decidedly more compelling than the plod to the title. A really great, wealthy team from a very tiny pack will win. The relegation battle, on the other hand, will be contested by a plethora of squads with varied economic and historical profiles. It’s a race where every goal registered in the “for” column counts as a seismic victory, every “against” shipped results in crippling horror for thousands of supporters. Contrast this to the title race, where the eyes of billionaire owners dart instead between red and black. Grit, guile, faith and luck will guide the chosen, whose victory is in not-losing instead of winning. And, lest we ever happen to forget, Spurs have a game in hand.