Race for the Premiership 2001-2002
With only a couple of months to go until the closer title race for years is finally
concluded, LFC-1 takes a look at the chances of each club involved in the battle to become
Premiership Champions 2002.
West Ham (Home)
Man United (Away)
Arsenal begin as most people's favourites and with a unbeaten record in
all competitions which stretches back to before Christmas, it would be hard to disagree.
Suspensions and injuries are no doubt going to be a crucial factor in their title
challenge though, and it is hard to see them taking maximum points until the end of the
season with so many key stars out.
The derby against Spurs is their toughest home game,
while a trip to Man United in April will be a massive game not only for the teams involved
in that fixture, but also for Liverpool and Newcastle, who could each move nearer to the
summit should results go their way between now and then.
Ambitions of winning the Champions League and FA Cup could prove to be a distraction,
and with Arsenal competing in 3 competitions at this stage of the season for the first
time, it will be a test for the players on how they cope with playing so many games with
such huge expectations from the fans.
West Ham (Away)
With 13 wins and a draw from their last 15 games, United have done
exceptionally well to stay in contention until now, and having got themselves into a
strong position, they, like Arsenal, are favoured by many to win yet another title.
undoubted strength is their ability to win almost every game against lower placed
opposition, and with ease. But their weakness over the last season or two has been in the
amount of points dropped to their rivals at the top and with such a close contest, it
could still prove to be what costs them from achieving a record fourth league title in a
row. With only a 4 points from 7 games against the other five clubs in the top 6, United
will need to improve their results against the top clubs if they are to stand a chance of
winning the title.
Away trips to Leeds and Chelsea are still to await United, with a home match against
Arsenal adding to what looks to be the most difficult run in of all four contenders.
Failure to take something from at least 2 of those key games could see the Premiership
Trophy going to somewhere other than Old Trafford, for the first time since 1998.
After a sticky patch during December and early January, Liverpool have got
themselves back on track and very much in contention for a league title. With off the
field problems involving the health of manager Gerard Houllier, and also Markus Babbel, an
important team member of last season's treble success, Liverpool have not had the easiest
of times this year, but thanks to the excellent work by assistant Phil Thompson, are back
on form and looking every bit like a side capable of challenging right to the wire.
having played all their games against the other contenders though, Liverpool still have
some tough matches to come, with the away game at Spurs, and the home match with Chelsea
looking likely to be the most difficult. But with a fantastic away record and their recent
improvement at home, Liverpool will no doubt prove a tough test for any team, and if they
can maintain their recent league form for the rest of the season, it could be Liverpool
who are celebrating in mid May.
West Ham (Home)
Despite recent league defeats by Arsenal and Liverpool, Newcastle are
still capable of winning this season's Premiership. Potentially just one point behind
Liverpool, Newcastle have the advantage of not having the distraction of the Champions
League, and they also have arguably the easiest run in of all four clubs. With Newcastle
still within touching distance of top spot, despite having played home and away games
against the other sides in the top 6, they should still be considered as challengers.
to Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer could prove costly, but should they stay clear of any
other injury worries then Newcastle certainly pose a threat to the leaders. Also, given
that Arsenal are potentially 4 points clear of Liverpool, Arsenal would have to drop
points in at least 2 games to allow Liverpool a chance. Should Arsenal lose points, there
is little evidence to suggest that Newcastle won't also be in a position to pounce.
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