Barclays Premier League, Featured, March 2014

Whiney Limey: BPL Approaches Business End of the Season

FA Cup defeat to Wigan (again!) and misery at the Camp Nou capped a tough week for City.

FA Cup defeat to Wigan (again!) and misery at the Camp Nou capped a tough week for City.

Editor’s Note: Guy Bailey will write columns for The Yanks Are Coming throughout the Barclay’s Premier League season where he discusses the happenings overseas in the world’s most popular sports league. Guy offers a unique perspective on the league as a Brit who lived for a long while in the United States before moving back to Teeside in the past year. He can be reached at and you can follow him on Twitter all EPL season at @guyrbailey.

13/3/14 – The business end of the season is now open

In life and football it is hard to deny the existence of The Indian Sign.  In common parlance, it means a spell or curse placed upon an individual – like the five pointed star on the wall of the Slaughtered Lamb in ‘An American Werewolf in London’ or whichever manufacturer is brave enough to allow their logo to be displayed on Martin DeMichelis boots. Essentially it’s a person or team you cannot get one over on no matter how hard you try or whatever tactics you employ.  Manchester City certainly understand the simile as once again, lowly Wigan Athletic, this time led by City Legend Uwe Rosler from the dim and dark days of League 1, knocked them out of the FA Cup for the second year running – last year famously in the final and this year, again just as deservedly at the Etihad.  Of course Wigan worked like Trojans and were just as impregnable and deserved their luck on occasion but City saw their hubristic quadruple dreams go up in a matter of days, Barcelona completing their demolition job at the Nou Camp in midweek, all before the Champagne swilling around inside the Cap One Cup has gone flat.

Guzan's heroics helped Villa vanquish leaders Chelsea.

Guzan’s heroics helped Villa vanquish leaders Chelsea.

Sure enough, if they win their games in hand on Chelsea, which began well with a lunchtime trip and two-zero spoils to Hull this weekend, they will go top again on goal difference but points on the board are always worth twice as many games in hand. The League Leaders aided in matters, traveling and losing a rugged match to Aston Villa in the late game. American Brad Guzan edges out referee Chris Foy as man-of-the-match, as Foy sent off Mourinho for dissent late in the match, a dissent that was well-earned as Foy blew his whistle too early and too often. Nonetheless, Guzan kept a clean sheet despite picking the ball out of the back of his net, and his heroism sends  Chelsea off to their Champions League game at home to Galatasaray without momentum. Blues fans will have to settle for the return of Didier Drogba to Stamford Bridge, and the opportunity, by the time they kick off, to be the only English representatives left in the continental competition.   Man Utd would like to avoid that, but coming  back from two goals down against Olympiakos isn’t going to be easy, especially given the import of today’s test against pretender/contender Liverpool. A defeat for the Reds here and Liverpool would hold 4th place, and more important, be all but out of sight for the deposed champions, while a Red Devils win, as well as the confidence boost it brings will bring United within six points of 4th, eight off Liverpool and Arsenal with nine games left to play.

Speaking of the Quixotic Arsene Wenger’s club, the Gunners themselves have the small matter of the North London Derby at White Hart Lane just as the inevitable season long niggles are starting to hit their crystalline midfield – beautiful, sharp, dazzling but also brittle to the touch – while a smarting Spurs, coming off the back of an unfortunate 0-4 humiliation at Chelsea and Europa League defeat to Benfica, can instantly win back a lot of supporters hearts and minds by torpedoing their nearest and undearest’s waning title pretentions.

Altidore could use a bit of Omar's fearless tenacity.

Altidore could use a bit of Omar’s fearless tenacity.

It’s still just as hot at the bottom as Cardiff leapt back to life with a 3-1 win over doomed looking Fulham and were more than prepared to travel to Everton, where they frustrated a possession-heavy Toffee side for ninety minutes and nearly earned a well-deserved point before Seamus Coleman saved Everton’s Europa League aspirations with a stoppage time winner. Elsewhere,  Sunderland, now cupless after a tired looking 0-3 exit to Hull in the FA Cup have 12 more cup finals to contest, but certainly didn’t seem to be treating each relegation-battle match that way, starting with yesterday’s visit by Crystal Palace. Sunderland do have the advantage of games in hand over their rivals but like Man City, they happen to be away to the Harlem Grasstrotters of Manchester and against a plummeting but still organized and experienced West Brom.  For those reasons- and not just aesthetic ones- yesterday’s draw with Crystal Palace was mind-numbingly poor. Why Sunderland keep running Jozy Altidore out to…not-run… is starting to be the largest head-scratcher in a season of head-scratchers.

For the first season in a long time, teams at both ends of the table are still in the game, yo. This is going down to The Wire.  (this is where, were I good at such things, I’d put in a photoshopped picture of Jozy Altidore superimposed on Omar Little’s body). Come to that, Altidore could use a bit of Omar’s fearless tenacity…

As noted, Guy Bailey writes on the Barclay’s Premier League for The Yanks Are Coming. Want more Guy Bailey? We highly recommend his new book, Blessay From America, a collection of writings made while living in America, where he married a southern belle and saw his son born, which you can purchase here. 

Guy Bailey