08 December 2013

Prem League Round-up: schadenfreude edition

Well, well, well. What a weekend it's already been for Arsenal, and we haven't even kicked off. The misery of others has, at the risk of making us seem a bit churlish, brought a fair amount of glee. Where to begin? Do I go right into the misery at Old Trafford, or do I save that as a dessert? I guess I'll get the unpleasantness out of the way first, all the better for enjoying the succulent sweets at the end.

Liverpool won. No surprise there, really, except that West Ham scored on itself (twice) more often that it scored on Liverpool (once) in a 4-1 loss. It's a result that shoots Liverpool from fifth to second, four points behind us while we have a game in hand (for a few hours, at least). Suarez managed to score to bring his league-leading tally to 13. Flat-track bully, I still say. Remember, I preemptively dubbed this post schadenfreude, so don't get your panties in a twist. At the risk of mixing metaphors into innuendo, this is all a bit of tongue-in-cheek cheekiness.

Closer to home, at least geographically, Spurs managed to continue their parsimonious scoring from open play by letting Sunderland's own-goal make the difference in a 2-1 win. The result was good enough to keep Spurs nibbling at the edges of European competition just in case they fail to win the Europa this time 'round. Sixth place is pretty good—until we consider that Man U, usually at or close to the top of the table, now sits in ninth place. One would expect to see Spurs climb higher, not fall lower, especially after spending £100m to bring in new players. Time will tell if they'll make me eat my words. I have the taste for caviar, I must say.

Just a bit farther afield but still just as close to my heart, Chelsea found a way to let Stoke score three times in a match—just the second time they've scored more than twice—on their way to a 3-2 win over Mourinho's minions. Chelsea's now conceded six goals in its last two matches while playing clubs who have managed six wins from 30 matches and who share a -23 goal-differential. Despite the result, Chelsea still sit third, level on points with Liverpool but three behind on goal-differential. We may be able to write off Liverpool and Spurs, but Chelsea, despite the ups and downs, look like they'll be in the mix for quite a while.

We go from the satisfying to the tantalizing in Southampton's 1-1 draw with Man City. City continues its lackluster away-form and were strangely passive in the second half. This was the one match I watched closely. Osvaldo's goal was a nice piece of work, but had he been slightly less rubbish, Southampton would have come away with the win. He was wasteful, spurning any number of fine chances as City seemed to play like a Championship club. Their home record: seven wins from seven matches with a +27 differential. Away? Two wins, two draws, four losses with a -1 differential. Should they sort that away-record, they'll be contenders.

On, finally, to dessert. Spiteful, venomous dessert. Perhaps it's a dish best served cold—but there's still plenty of time, and anything can happen, whether it's Moyes getting sacked or van Persie getting transferred. Ahead of Man U's home-loss to Newcastle, rumors circulated that van Persie had put in a transfer-request. No surprise. Tell me if this sounds familiar: after one season of glory, he got impatient, nay, disloyal to his club and demanded a transfer. It's just a rumor at this point, but it rings true. I called Suarez a flat-track bully, but maybe the moniker suits van Persie a bit better. It's therefore served with a side-dish of delight that Man U lost two in a row at home for the first time since 2002, even more so when the equalizer was denied because none other than van Persie was ruled offside. Karma, man. Karma. Man U are now 12 points behind us and only nine points above relegation. Should Aston Villa defeat Fulham by three or more (not unthinkable, given Fulham's -6 goal-differential at home), Man U would fall to tenth place.

Look, I get it. We have to get over van Persie's departure/betrayal. I am over it. I don't want him back in the least, and I actually understand his motives: Aging. Injury-prone. Dubious about Arsenal's ambitions. He did what a lot of us would do: get while the getting's good. However, this doesn't mean that I forgive. Suffice it to say that I notice the difference between our squad's form and his. The distinction matters, and it's one I may return to in a later post. Our squad, that is, all of the players, sense a shared responsibility and opportunity. That, just as much as the form of Ramsey or Sczcesny or Koscielny or Özil, lies at the heart of our success. Van Persie, the individual, doesn't seem to get that. Too bad. I don't wish ill on him, nor do I wish him well.

I mentioned karma a while back. I don't want to dwell too much in the realm of schadenfreude for fear that it will come back to haunt me. Does it redeem me at all that I was rooting for Southampton and not against Man City? Perhaps. I hope. We go into our clash with Everton primed, I'm sure, for a nail-biter of a match. In my preview, I called for a 2-1 win with goals from Cazorla and Giroud. Let's hope I know what I'm talking about.