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 firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter all EPL season at@guyrbailey.
14/2/14 – Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…
As John Lennon said, and it applied to me as my usual writing days were taken up with not one, not two but three job interviews so apologies for the delay. Equally it could also be attributed to poor David Moyes. Once again, his misfiring Man Utd had clawed their way back into a game – from 0-1 to bottom of the league Fulham to lead 2-1 three minutes into injury time when almost inevitably, Darren Bent, the most prolific scorer against United still playing and a man who now only looks dangerous if he were to fall on you, ambled off the bench and forward to head in an equaliser as improbable as it was hilarious.
What’s worse for Man Utd fans isn’t the displays by the Harlem Grasstrotters (tm this site) across the city but Liverpool turning into genuine title contenders again. Taking four points from two tricky away games this week at West Brom, then coming from behind twice to win at Fulham with a last minute penalty to rub even more salt into the Old Trafford wounds. Suarez is now as integral to the Liverpool machine as Cantona was in United’s dominance in the 90s and beyond so if they can get him to an exorcist and keep him in red they will be sticking around.
Meanwhile, the famed English top flight query about how champions are made: “But can they do it midweek at (insert midtable/lowtable side here)? has made its annual appearance and the answers are coming fast and easy. Chelsea, who as I exclusively predicted, caught up with and mugged city as deftly as if they lived in College Park, Atlanta and now hold the box seat themselves, managed only a point from a resilient West Brom, which is karmic payback for stealing one themselves in the return earlier in the season with the least likely penalty incurred until Michael Sam gets called for illegal dance moves next season. Arsenal looked Championship calibre this week – as in the SkyBet Championship that Middlesbrough play in – after getting roundly humped at Anfield and nearly getting undone by Man Utd at home this week. The more Wenger protests about Ozil and his desire/interest, the more you think there might be an issue there.
At the other end, West Ham, who recently discovered Italy, and Swansea City now sit comfortably in mid table. Actually let’s look at that again, the teams in 10th and 11th are only 4 points off the relegation zone – it’s that tight. Still, Sam Allardyce has that ship moving in the right direction with the afore-referenced Italians now in the fold and best of all, Antonio Nocerino, who appears to have just discovered England, completing the circle of harmony at Upton Park. Nocerino was irritated at being shipped out of Milan but has arrived, played well and is now praising English football and suggesting he “loves it so much here” he may not return. Either way, West Ham discovering Italian football and Nocerino discovering English football is a true London love story.
West Ham have always defended well this year but are finally scoring goals, which of course, is how you avoid the drop. In the bottom three last weekend, three 2-0 wins in succession have taken the Hammers into the top half while everyone underneath including the likes of Villa and Stoke will be praying to avoid a goal drought or confidence collapse at this stage of the season. Even lead-weighted Fulham looked lively enough this week and with more luck could have taken 6 or 4 points instead of their eventual haul of 1.
This week is a return of FA Cup action for the teams still involved and we finally get two heavyweight clashes with Chelsea returning to the scene of the crime at Man City while Arsenal look for swift revenge against Liverpool on Sunday. Southampton and Everton think this might be their year if they can get past Sunderland and Swansea respectively and there will be at least two non-EPL sides in the quarter finals as Sheffield Wednesday play Charlton and Sheffield United entertain Nottingham Forest. As far as Everton are concerned, Roberto Martinez and his charges have to be somewhat keenly aware of the FA Cup’s importance– their slow and tedious midfield are simply not going to earn them a top four spot so Europa play through the FA Cup may be the best path for them to European football.
This weeks WTF story involves Lazio’s Joseph Minala, their latest 17-year-old prodigy. At least that’s what the contract said – For 17 he does look like he’s got a couple of miles on the clock doesn’t he?
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.