Is London home to the new kings of football?

by Ian Ford

Thursday, September 16th, 2010
 

On Tuesday night, as Manchester United and Rangers were barely beginning their one-note snore-fest “Battle of Britain”, Spurs were setting Europe alight with a rip-roaring opening 20 minutes that left them two-up and Werder Bremen’s players visibly stunned.

That they, perhaps inevitably, failed to win should not detract from their bravado nor the freshness they brought to the competition.

Nobody would describe Arsenal or Chelsea as bringing that to the Champion’s League anymore, of course. But they still upstaged the rest of the continent last night with wins defined by sheer grace (Arsenal, 6-0) and brutal efficiency (Chelsea, 4-1) — albeit against opposition who were, for lack of a better word, toilet.

So, in the competition described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the world’s greatest”, it’s actually the London clubs flying the early flag during the real Battle of Britain’s 70th anniversary.

And it’s a similar story domestically, with Chelsea sitting pretty atop the table with maximum points and Arsenal just two behind. United, having dropped last minute points twice already this season, languish in third.
Spurs, meanwhile, will almost certainly mount another top-four challenge; possibly claiming it at the expense of United’s local rivals.

It would be easy then to deduce that London clubs are the new kings of football. To conclude that — with United inexplicably failing to sign a new midfielder (letting Ozil go to Real so cheap was criminal!), City struggling to gel, and Liverpool being, well, crap — the power shift to the North West hinted at two seasons ago has proved a false omen.
But it isn’t quite that simple. For a few reasons.

Firstly — clich√© alert — it is early doors. You can’t judge the Premier League after just a handful of games and you certainly can’t judge the CL after just a single match day; Blackpool sit fourth in the former for God’s sake. Plucky newcomers they may be, but if they don’t end up in a relegation battle I will eat my proverbial hat. Oh, and Barcelona will win the CL.

Then there’s the wider state of the English clubs. Chelsea’s squad are getting older and their owner increasingly bored and stingy. City are comparatively flush with cash and consequently have a bright young, predominantly English, set of players. In time they will win the league.

Arsenal meanwhile will do what they always do: refuse to buy proven players, play attractive football against the minnows and come gloriously unstuck against greater opposition. United will be more pragmatic and, despite their debts, continue to challenge Chelsea or City all the way for years to come.  As for Liverpool. Well, who cares?

Oh and finally, if you’re going to make a sweeping statement that London is king of football; then you have to include the whole damn capital. Who’s that I spy bottom of the table with no points, two goals scored and 12 conceded? West Ham.

Point proved.

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  • M

    Ozil is a total lightweight, he would never have cut the mustard away to Bolton. The guy shirks out of tackles like opposing players’ shin pads are lined with rusty syringes.

  • Ian

    He’s young and could easily have bulked up, given time, if he came here. There were some pretty rough-house tactics employed in the World Cup and he rose above it. Bottom lines: he’s one of the most promising attacking midfield prospects in the World, Scholes is not getting any younger, he could have been snapped up cheaply (particularly when you consider United spent 6m on Bebe who Fergie had never even seen play).

    You’re right about his light-weight flaws, but to be not buying him was a terrible error.

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