2013/14 EPL Title Race: Unpredictability at its Peak
When Sir Alex Ferguson successfully took the 2012/13 Premier League title from the hands of Manchester City and announced his shock retirement, I had a hunch that power was going to shift hands as I didn’t believe that David Moyes have it in him to continue in the traditions of the Old Trafford outfit.
After 10 months in charge, Moyes proved everyone right and many wondered why it took that long to terminate his contract. Ryan Giggs held the fort on an interim basis but in two games, he has won one and lost the other. I guess the spirit of Moyes still lingers.
At the start of the new campaign, Manchester City invested heavily following the sacking of Roberto Mancini and in Manuel Pellegrini, the Citizens had a proven tactician that was ready to prove his worth, despite not winning any major trophies in his coaching career. He splurged cash in strengthening his team and many started tipping him for the title.
Then there was Chelsea, a team with a ‘messiah’ that was arriving in his second stint at the club. As expected, he made a couple of signings here and there in his bid to challenge for the title.
The media, fans and journos alike were very quick to write off Arsenal and Liverpool, and funnily enough, the bookies even tipped the Gunners to drop from the top four after witnessing Tottenham waste wads of cash following the sale of their prized asset, Gareth Bale.
Arsenal started with a home loss to Aston Villa and all Hell broke loose with the fans requesting for Wenger’s head on a plate. After a blistering run of seven straight victories in several competitions, Arsenal started rising to prominence and in November, the Gunners were at the summit of the Premier League with Aaron Ramsey playing like a man on fire.
Chelsea and Manchester City continued to trail the Gunners but the Citizens’ away form was their Achilles heel as they struggled on the road. While everyone focused on consolidating their top four status, Manchester United plummeted into mediocrity and they kept losing games with consummate ease to the astonishment of neutral football lovers.
In the turn of the New Year, Arsenal continued to set the pace but when the going got really tough, Arsene Wenger’s side’s title challenge crumbled to shreds. Losing heavily away to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea was nothing compared to the unfortunate dropped points against Everton in December, Stoke and of course, Swansea. The Gunners are currently eight points behind Liverpool, if they had won those aforementioned games, they would have still been in the run-in.
Chelsea on the other hand, had a manager that was determined to take the pressure of his team with some plans of usurping the big sides but despite sealing great results against the juggernauts of the league, Chelsea dropped some points against Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Stoke. Then, there was the long-standing home record that was broken by Sunderland.
However, when it came to records, no team got close to David Moyes and his Manchester United.
Spring saw the rise of the season’s dark horses, Liverpool, and the Suarez-Sturridge-Sterling combination continued to bang in the goals as they surged to the top of the league. With Chelsea and Manchester City dropping more vital points, the league was Liverpool’s to lose but in their mist important fixture at home to Chelsea in Stamford Bridge, their naivety coupled with Jose Mourinho’s epic bus parking tactics saw them lose ground.
Last night, Liverpool knew that they needed a victory against Crystal Palace to put pressure on Manchester City and when Liverpool were three goals to the good, it seemed as business as usual but in the blink of an eye, three points changed to one.
With two more points dropped, Manchester City would know that a victory against Aston Villa would mean that they would need a draw on the final day of the season to win their season title in three years.
Arsenal warmed the iron throne of the Premier League title for the longest period but it was also shuffled between Liverpool and Chelsea. Right now, Manchester City is odds on to claim the throne to be the best team in the land.
That’s the unpredictability of the title race.