For this week’s listening report we focus on the contenders for the Premier League title. Most pundits agree that there are only four teams in it, and only three with a good chance. We take a look at each team and weigh up their chances. This report is a shortened version of the regular weekly podcast. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link above and you can read the transcript below with key vocabulary explained at the bottom of the post.
Listening Report: The Premier League Run In
The Favourites: Manchester City
Winners in 2012, but only twice before that, the Blues from Manchester will be hoping that the huge amounts of money they have splurged on talent can win them another title. They have two games in hand on the teams around them and currently lie in third place on 67 points. They have eight games remaining, and if they win them all, they will be champions. Their biggest challenge will come on Merseyside, where they have to travel to Liverpool and Everton, both teams with ambitions, one for the title and one for a Champions League spot. They have a fantastic goal difference of plus 52, which could quite possibly prove to be crucial if they drop a few points. City are no longer the plucky underdogs of yesteryear and should win the title race.
A few weeks ago, the London side was sitting pretty at the top of the league, and while their manager was pooh-poohing their chances, they looked set to grind out another title with efficient but mostly unattractive play. But two loses in their last three games have seen them drop points and slip into second on 69 points. It would be a brave person to bet against them however, especially considering their 6-0 demolition of Arsenal two games ago. The biggest threat to their chances may be the Champions League, which seems to be affecting their league form. They also travel to Liverpool, and Mourinho will fancy his chances of denting the Reds chances, just as he went to Manchester City and comfortably beat the pundits’ favourites on that day.
Dark Horses: Liverpool
Despite the fact that the Merseyside club is currently in first place with 71 points, two ahead of Chelsea and four ahead of Manchester City, it is doubtful that they can stay there. If they win their last six games they will be Champions, but those wins must include defeating Manchester City and Chelsea, which is surely a bridge too far. Before the season, most people gave them only an outside chance of finishing 4th, but now they find themselves in the form of their season – winning eight on the bounce and scoring for fun – 30 in those last eight games. A fact that has made them the favourites of most neutrals.
Conclusion: Third and a say in who wins the title
Hanging on by a thread: Arsenal
Arsenal fans must be wishing they could wake up from the nightmare that sees their team again tailing off in February and dropping away from the title race. They have 64 points, 7 off the top spot, and have been beaten 6-3 by Manchester City, 5-1 by Liverpool and 6-0 by Chelsea. They do have the consolation of a tilt at the FA Cup, which is the best chance the Gunners have of silverware this season.
Conclusion: No chance – 4th.
To splurge: to spend a lot of money; to waste a lot of money
Game in hand: have an extra game; to have played a game less than your rivals
Merseyside: a region in the north-west of England that contains the City of Liverpool and the teams Everton and Liverpool
Goal difference: the sum of goals after totaling the goals scored minus goals conceded – important in most leagues when teams have equal points
Plucky underdog: a brave, unfancied team; a team that tries hard but is not expected to win
To sit pretty: be in a comfortable position; often in football, in a good position in the league
To pooh pooh: to dismiss; to play down; to make less important or less realistic
To grind out: win by playing compact, defensive football
To slip: to fall; to drop down
Demolition: an impressive win with a lot of goals; destroying another team
A bridge too far: Something that is too difficult to achieve; a position after doing well, where you cannot go further
On the bounce: one after another; in a row; with no gaps
To score for fun: to score a lot of goals; to make scoring look easy
To tail off: to have a run of poor results; a situation when performances become slowly worse; to fall behind
A tilt; an attempt; a try; a chance