By Chris George
Chelsea face Man U in New Year thriller
Happy New Year
A Happy New year 2009 to all our readers and hope this year turns out to be great both for you and the team you support. Another year is here and the first Arusha Times issue of the year is out. We hope to bring you all the news, analysis and fixtures in your regular column – the Sports Salad
The Premier League situation thus far
Not much has changed in the league table since you read the last article. Liverpool still leads the league but things are very tight both at the top and bottom of the league table. Liverpool lead Chelsea by just three points. It means if Liverpool loses one game and Chelsea wins one, Chelsea will be back on top.
The season is slightly more than half complete – with 20 out of 38 matches having been played. We are heading to the second half of the season where all teams will face a big test of grit, determination, stamina and strength of squad. Teams which have not rotated much will find their players facing exhaustion as the season moves on. It is only by April that the position will be a little clear.
At present, Liverpool lead on 45 points followed by Chelsea on 42. Manchester United are 7 points adrift of Liverpool with two matches in hand. This means that if United win both their games in hand, they will be just a point behind Liverpool and 2 points ahead of Chelsea. Aston Villa have surprised all pundits with their consistency this season and lie in the fourth Champions League spot with 38 points three ahead of their rivals Arsenal who perform well on one day and poorly on another. Everton have recovered well after a shaky start and are in sixth with 32 points.
Rooted at the bottom are West Brom with 18 points and above them Blackburn with 18 points as well and Stoke City on 20 points. Not that these three teams are doomed. There is an unbelievable gap of only 9 points between 8th placed Hull City and 20th placed West Brom. This means that any team losing three matches in a row could see themselves in the relegation zone and any team winning three in a row could find themselves catapulting to the top half of the table.
United v Chelsea thriller
On Sunday 11 January, at 7pm Tanzania there will be the clash of 2009 when Manchester United host Chelsea at Old Trafford. The stadium will be packed to capacity despite the credit crunch. For both teams, this will be a must win match. If Chelsea lose, it will really dampen their spirits as they were held to a draw by a team from the lower divisions in the FA Cup and drew their last match at Fulham. United would then be a point behind Chelsea with two matches in hand. A loss for United would mean the points gap becoming larger and also pressure in them facing a fixture pile up and having a lot of work to catch up. A draw would be a blow as that would mean two more points lost. In the first game they drew 1-1. I am predicting a 2-1 win for United. League leaders Liverpool travel to Stoke, a team that frustrated them with a goalless draw at Anfield. Liverpool play better away from home and will try and find a way out. Aston Villa host bottom team West Brom – but in the premier league nothing can be taken for granted. Arsenal host Bolton and Everton play Hull in an interesting match.
Up coming Sporting Events in January
For tennis lovers, the first grand slam of the season, the Australian Open will be starting soon and there will be in-depth coverage in our next issue. In tennis watch out this year for Andy Murray. He is developing into a very fine young player and he is sure to win a Grand Slam this year!
English Premier League
Saturday, 10 January 2009
Aston Villa v West Brom (3.45pm Tanzanian Time)
Everton v Hull, 6pm
Fulham v Blackburn, 6pm
Middlesbrough v Sunderland, 6pm
Newcastle v West Ham, 6pm
Portsmouth v Man City, 6pm
Arsenal v Bolton, 6pm
Stoke v Liverpool, 8.30pm
Sunday, 11 January 2009
Wigan v Tottenham, 4.30pm
Man Utd v Chelsea, 7pm
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
Man Utd v Wigan, 11pm
FA Cup Goal! –Steven Gerrard celebrates Liverpool’s second goal against Preston with Fernando Torres