World Cup 2014 Preview
The Group Stages
In Group F Argentina are the only team in the top twenty in the world rankings. Bosnia and Herzegovina make their first finals appearance.
Argentina, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
In what is the most exciting run-in for years in the Premier League we take a look at the form of the top three along with their remaining fixtures.
Liverpool enter this critical period as the form team. The Red’s have been in free-scoring form and are on an eight-game winning streak at the moment. Defensively they are still suspect although three clean-sheets in their last five games shows signs of a slight improvement in that area.
Liverpool’s next two games at Anfield are against their chief title-chasing rivals. Simply put, if Rodgers’ men win their remaining games they will be crowned league champions for the first time since 1990. However, that would mean completing a fourteen-game winning streak, matching Arsenal’s record run from February 2002 until August of that year.
Brendan Rodgers’ summation of Suarez and Sturridge both being ‘soloists’ rather than an interlinking partnership seems to be a fair assessment of their strike-force. Rodgers and the Liverpool fans won’t mind if they continue to add to the forty-nine goals they’ve managed already together this season.
Youngsters such as Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho and Flanagan have grown into their roles and no matter what the end result in May, this experience will serve them well in the years ahead.
Special mention also has to go to Martin Skrtel who started the season as the fourth choice centre-half. Instead of pouting however Skrtel kept plugging away and when injury’s to Sakho and Agger gave him his opportunity back in the first-team he took it with both hands. The Slovakian international has chipped in with six goals this season as well including recent braces against Arsenal and Cardiff City.
Liverpool’s remaining fixtures:
April 6th – West Ham United (A); April 13th – Manchester City (H); April 20th – Norwich City (A); April 27th – Chelsea (H); May 3rd – Crystal Palace (A); May 11th – Newcastle United (H)
Mourinho’s men have lost two of their last three league games (1-0 away to both Villa and Palace). Those defeats came either side of a fantastic 6-0 drubbing of Arsenal at Stamford Bridge. Mourinho has been intent on playing down their chances in the title race to keep the pressure off of his team. It remains to be seen what effect this approach will have had on Hazard, Oscar, Terry et al come May. Mourinho has also highlighted the fact that Chelsea still have the Champions League as an added distraction, facing PSG in the upcoming quarter-finals.
John Terry has experienced a huge upturn in his form since the self-titled ‘Special One’s’ return. The centre-back’s performances have led to public forum’s requesting his return to the national team for Brazil this summer.
Eden Hazard has been the star of the season for the Blue’s, leading their scoring charts and creating plenty of opportunities for the misfiring Torres. Eto’o has slowly shown signs of what he is capable of and his goals may have proved vital when the dust eventually settles.
Cesar Azpilicueta has been a revelation at left-back, keeping Ashley Cole out of the starting eleven. Re-signing Matic was also a great move for Chelsea with the young giant making the defensive-midfielder role his own. He is an extremely imposing presence for any opposing midfielders to come up against.
Chelsea’s remaining fixtures:
April 5th – Stoke City (H); April 13th – Swansea City (A); April 20th – Sunderland (H); April 27th – Liverpool (A); May 3rd – Norwich City (H); May 11th – Cardiff City (A)
City are many peoples favourites for the title. The blue side of Manchester has already tasted success this season after defeating Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final. Due to their progression in that competition as well as their FA Cup and Champions League exploits (both competitions are now finished for City) they are slightly behind in their league schedule. City have two games in hand on Liverpool and Chelsea.
Yaya Toure has been a consistent City performer for a few years now but this season he has taken his goalscoring to a level never reached before. The midfield-dynamo has seventeen goals in twenty-eight games in the league so far this season. Next to Toure in the scoring charts is the infrequently-fit Aguero. Argentina’s frontman has only managed seventeen appearances this season but he has managed fifteen goals in those games.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini arrived last summer at the Etihad Stadium. Pellegrini’s arrival followed that of pacy winger, Jesus Navas, from La Liga and Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho from Shakthar Donetsk. Fernandinho has proved in many ways to be the perfect foil for Yaya Toure in the centre of midfield. This has led to Toure being able to contribute more in the attacking third than in previous seasons.
David Silva has also had to contend with injury this season, managing just eighteen games so far and scoring five goals. Silva does look to be back to his best in recent weeks however and can still conjure a goal out of nothing.
Manchester City’s remaining fixtures:
April 5th – Southampton (H); April 13th – Liverpool (A); April 16th – Sunderland (H); April 21st – West Bromwich Albion (H); April 27th – Crystal Palace (A); May 3rd – Everton (A); May 7th – Aston Villa (H); May 11th – West Ham United (H)
Let us know your predictions for where the title is going in May. Just drop us a line in the comments section below.
Follow us @ftblfans