With the arrival of world-class managers and eye-watering sums available for investment in the transfer market, the competition for the Premier League title is widely acknowledged to be more open than ever before.
The majority of pundits have agreed that at least seven of the 20 contenders have genuine claims but where the golden ball will land when the richest roulette wheel in football comes to a rest is probably more difficult to deduce as the season kicks-off than it has ever been before.
Manchester City’s intentions are clear with the recruitment of arguably the best manager in the game in the shape of Pep Guardiola. Anything less than a third Premier League crown being housed in the Etihad boardroom next May will be regarded as failure.
Amid the euphoria of Leicester City’s magnificent and historical title success (needless to say, our heartiest congratulations to all concerned), new Premier League ground was also broken elsewhere on Monday night.
In the title crunch game at Chelsea, nine yellow cards were shown to Tottenham Hotspur players; the first time in the competition’s history that nine different players from one team had been shown yellow.
Considering the importance of the game, Cup Final referee Mark Clattenburg appeared to be in an especially lenient mood during the early stages of the exchanges.
Despite an increasingly highly charged atmosphere, only Kyle Walker, Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose (that’s three of the back four) had gone into the book in the first-half.
Tottenham Hotspur have been a fixture in the Premier League since the competition's inception in 2004. Prior to this, Spurs had only once been absent from the top tier of English football, when they were relegated to the then Second Division in the 1977-78 season. Whilst the Lilywhites are not yet in danger of again being exiled to the second tier, their troubling form in recent months has aggravated their loyal fan-base.
Spurs began the year a respectable 6th on the Premier League table but have since fallen to 12th, this slide being down to the club’s erratic to downright poor performances this season: in their 11 matches Tottenham have only emerged victorious in four. In the remaining matches Tottenham have suffered five defeats, including a humiliating 4-2 loss to Manchester
Updated 11th November 2014 at 03:53 PM by Veritas
This week's goal of the week surprisingly goes to Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur) for his goal at Manchester City.
Due to Mario Balotelli’s last gasp penalty and Jermain Defoe being unable to convert the glaring chance that Wales star had set-up, Gareth Bale’s top quality strike in the clash at the Etihad Stadium was in vain.
Nonetheless, his clinical finish from the edge of the box was of such high calibre that Sunday newspaper transfer speculation of a £150 million price tag seem a little less far fetched.
Gareth Bale was named earlier in the week as the only Premier League player to be selected in the UEFA team of 2011.
After their best start to a league season since their famous double-winning side of 1960-61, Tottenham Hotspur’s title ambitions were dented on Saturday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers at White Hart Lane.
The goal that denied Spurs another three-point reward also meant they have become the first club to concede a total of 1,000 goals in the history of the Premier League.
The current top ten of all-time Premier League goals conceded is, as follows
Tottenham Hotspur had won six league games in a row for the first time since 1990, equalling their best ever unbeaten run in the Premier League and must have fancied their chances against a Stoke City side who recently suffered a run of five defeats in six league and cup games.
However, Tottenham were undone by two goals from former Hotspur Matthew Etherington whilst the Stoke team also featured former players Jonathan Woodgate and Peter Crouch.
To complete the humiliation, Stoke boss Tony Pulis had been assistant to current Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp at AFC Bournemouth in 1991.
Congratulations to Stoke City!
Performance of the Week: Brad Friedel
(Photo by James Boyes)
- In a season that has so far been dominated by the astounding number of high scoring games, this week the goalkeepers fought back.
- With notable nods of appreciation towards Ali Al Habsi of Wigan Athletic, Swansea City’s Michel Vorm and Petr Cech of Chelsea, this week’s AFS Performance of the Week award goes to the grand old man of Premier League keepers... Tottenham Hotspur’s Brad Friedel.
- With Fulham putting the Spurs defence under intense pressure during the second-half at Craven Cottage, a string of fine saves from the 40 year-old maintained the visitors winning run.
- Although manager Harry Redknapp’s recovery from
Arsenal & Stoke City
· Stoke City have lost on all of their nine league and cup visits to Arsenal since 1983.
· Arsenal captain Robin Van Persie has scored 23 goals in 25 Premier League appearances in 2011.
· Stoke City have conceded only two goals in the second-half of their Premier League games this season; fewer than any other team.
Blackburn Rovers & Tottenham Hotspur
· Tottenham Hotspur have won all of their last four meetings with Blackburn Rovers.
· Blackburn Rovers are the only team who have yet to be in the lead at half-time in a Premier League game this season.
· Tottenham Hotspur have drawn 99 of their all-time 371 away games in the Premier League (won
Bolton Wanderers & Chelsea
Chelsea have won on each of their last eight visits to the Reebok Stadium (all Premier League) without conceding a goal.Bolton Wanderers are the only team to lose all of their home games in the Premier League so far this season.Chelsea have failed to score in only two of their last 18 Premier League games.
Fulham & Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers have failed to score in their last four meetings with Fulham since 1983.Fulham are the only team who have yet to score the first goal in one of their Premier League games this season.The 3-0 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers is the only occasion that Queens Park Rangers have scored more than one goal in their last eight league and cup games.
Arsenal & Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers have lost all five previous visits to the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.Only Southampton (16 in 1998-99) and Derby County (15 in 2007-08) have conceded more goals than Arsenal after five games of a Premier League season.Bolton Wanderers have lost nine of their last ten Premier League games.
Chelsea & Swansea City
Swansea City have not won at Stamford Bridge since November 1925 when they were known as Swansea Town.Chelsea have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine Premier League games.Swansea City have conceded only one goal in their last four Premier League games.
Liverpool & Wolverhampton Wanderers
Last December’s 1-0 victory was only Wolverhampton