Belfast Telegraph

Alan Green: Chelsea paid £50m to find out that three into two doesn’t go

As if the frenzy of activity on the last day of the transfer window wasn’t enough, surely this past Premier League weekend is enough to persuade doubters that this is the craziest season on record.

The leaders lose to the team that was then propping up the table: Arsenal lead 4-0 within half-an-hour at Newcastle and can only DRAW the game; Liverpool complete a double over the champions not that long after promoted Blackpool complete a double over Liverpool; absolutely manic!

Who’s complaining? Not me, for sure: It’s great going to games not feeling remotely sure of what might happen. I still believe it reflects a division that, this year at least, isn’t of the highest quality, but you can’t take your eyes off it.

And that result for Manchester United has been coming. I’m not ignoring the achievement of going unbeaten all that time in the league but, all along, I and many others have been saying they weren’t playing that well. Indeed, honestly, I struggle to remember the last time I thought, yes, they ARE playing THAT well.

We’ll know soon enough if the defeat at Wolves was merely a blip; Sir Alex’s team have fixtures coming up that will test them: Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, then Wigan (you never know what you’re going to get from them), Chelsea (a game that will have to be called off if Chelsea beat Everton in the FA Cup replay) and a rejuvenated Liverpool, all away from home.

Speaking of Liverpool, Sunday was built up as being all about Chelsea and their new £50 million striker. Well, did you notice Fernando Torres? I reckon he had one proper chance that was brilliantly denied by Jamie Carragher and by the time he was taken off in the 66th minute, he’d had fewer touches than anybody else on the pitch: fact.

Torres is a great player and will be a great acquisition at Stamford Bridge, but Ancelotti has tough decisions to make — three-into-two doesn’t go easily. By the time he settles in, the Premier League title may be a distant dream for this season.

But, and of course I could be wildly wrong in this nutty campaign, I reckon Arsenal suffered most these last few days. Arsene Wenger was quick to admit the psychological damage that may have been inflicted at St James’ Park. Though Alan Shearer was way over the top saying on Match of The Day that it was probably the greatest game he’d ever seen, Newcastle’s comeback was undeniably remarkable and hurt Arsenal badly.

Goalkeeper? Centre of defence? These are questions shrugged off by an Arsenal boss who spent nothing in January when he was as well placed as anyone to spend. Does Arsene really know?

And, yes, I hear you shouting, I haven’t forgotten that Manchester City and Spurs actually both won on Saturday. It can be argued there are five teams in the title chase and that Liverpool might even qualify for the Champions League: crazy!

Belfast Telegraph


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