Friday, March 31, 2006

What to see at the Premiership

I have to admit that as thrilling as I consider the English Premiership to be, times have stood in a kind of a lull for my beloved Liverpool. We are 5 points behind Man U, but 10 ahead of Spurs. We've crushed Everton already, and that's something that reallly counts. But no big surprises await the Kop nation in the following weeks, I reckon.

I am not saying I do not think it is a bad championship at all, especially considering the doldrums that are the mid-tables of Spain and Italy these days. When I do my daily click at BBC Sport to check the latest news, I have been focusing my attention on two places: Lancashire and South England.

4000 holes and three tough teams

Lancashire is a county up north (slightly south of Liverpool) that is famous for being mentioned in the Beatles song "A Day In The Life". This year the region's fans have a real reason to celebrate because the its three major teams (Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan) are serious contenders for European competition next season.

Bolton kind of screwed up in this year's Uefa Cup but are a solid and competent team that might use this experience to do a lot better next year. Blackburn are famous for being the team that everybody hates - especially for its stud-in-the-socks mentality and bad boys like Robbie Savage and Craig Bellamy - and hence they are as tough to crack as a turtle shell. And Wigan has faded a lot since its amazing run in the beginning (maybe content with being runners-up in the Carling Cup) and have let Arsenal steal their once seemingly secured a Uefa Cup spot; even so, it has surely been the most memorable year for the Latics.

Pompey, hooray

As for South England... well it is more of a South American connection than anything else. Since Portsmouth signed Andrés D'Alessandro on loan I cannot help but follow them and see if the former River Plate star is playing well. Especially because the relegation fight is really tough - much more than last year I guess, when there were more teams competing - and it is sure that the two that will join Sunderland at the Championship in 2006-7 will come from a shortlist that includes Pompey, West Brom and Birmingham. The latter have a lower morale these days than Milhouse from The Simpsons, and WBA pulled it off last year (still with Kieran Richardson) but do not seem that confident this time.

Portsmouth, on the other hand, have won some interesting away games (such as West Ham) and have players that can cope with the task of winning more games than Brum and WBA. Pedro Mendes, a former Tottenham reserve, has been particularly impressive. And I wonder when D'Alessandro will start scoring some of his own.

So whoever feels like saying that England does not have thrilling football... well, you might wanna follow things in a closer look.

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