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Premier League pot-boiler

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Robbo Robson | 10:40 UK time, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

There's almost a sense of normal service resumed after the weekend's Premier League matches.

Chelsea still look like the team to beat, even if Malouda strode through Sunderland's defence like Darth Vader breezing by some knee-knocking stormtroopers.

There's nothing normal about Ashley Cole doing a half-decent impression of Dennis Bergkamp, mind. The lad's a class left-back that's for sure but that finish was about as likely as a touching rendition of Lady Macbeth by Katie Price.

Almost as rare was the inch-perfect through-ball from one John Terry. He's Beckenbauer in a big lunk's clothing.

The permanent half-smirk on Abramovich's face was transformed into a full-blown smile. I'm warming to Ancelotti. His side's as dominant as Mourinho's but he likes the players to be more entertaining than his press conferences. I prefer that.
Carlo Ancelotti
Ancelotti is enjoying life at Stamford Bridge

Manchester United took their customary three points
against lesser opposition but Burnley could've been in front had the lad Nugent took his chance. He's a latter-day Jeffers that boy.

Like Franny he's scored for England (although Nugent's goal-line tap-in had to be verified by using state-of-the-art nanotechnology) and he's underwhelmed everyone ever since. From fox in the box to wench on the bench in the blinking of an eye.

Fergie admitted the 3-0 was a bit rough on the Clarets - he said it was unfair on Burnley but not 'unjustly unfair'. Oxymoron!

It looks like Arsenal might maintain a challenge this year. Certainly winning at Bolton is testament to a bit more spine in the side. There was a time when Allardyce would send his great lummoxes out on the pitch and the Gunners would curl up and frizzle away like wood-shavings on the fire.

Fabregas drew all the plaudits on Sunday and it is a sobering thought that the lad is not guaranteed a place in Spain's first team. You couldn't say the same about Lampard and Gerrard no matter how many times I've tried. And I'd say the lad Vermaelen is looking like the best buy of the season.

Better it must be said than Robinho. Being subbed as a sub is about as low as you can go as a 150 grand a week quasi-genius footballer. Quite what Robinho is doing with his professional career is beyond most of us. He's giving show-ponies a bad name.

Perhaps he'll soon join the ranks of Messrs Babel and Nani who intersperse great swathes of aimless guff with very occasional moments of quality and then, in Babel's case, bleat like a beauty pageant runner-up on places like Twitter when the manager drops him to the second team.

I shouldn't be surprised to find out that the three of them have been masquerading as footballers and are actually glove models.

Mancini's side were undone by a fine Everton team, with Fellaini doing a reasonable turn as a Belgian Vieira (the Arsenal version - not the broken-down slowcoach with the calf strain that the Italian has illogically bought).

As Liverpool continue to get payback for all them fluky last-minute winners last season (or all them rewards for perseverance and a never-say-die attitude, if you prefer) you still get the impression that Villa and Spurs don't quite have the gumption to step into that last four place.

Spurs wasted a hell of a lot of goals in beating Wigan 9-1 but then again they won't be up against Boaz Myhill every week. He was so magnificent he could have saved Lehmann Brothers.

Harry keeps perming through his strikers (and poor old Rafa must be looking on with envy at the options available to Redknapp - Keane, Crouch, oh wait didn't he already...? nuff said) but he can't seem to settle on a favoured front two. And is it me or do both Crouch and Defoe hit the keeper way too often? I'm all for making the goalie make a save but what happened to the steely-eyed roll-it-in-the-bottom-corner finish?
Jermain Defoe and Boaz Myhill Myhill was on a one-man mission to deny Spurs
Villa were their usually industrious selves - and look out naysayers 'cos young Downing'll be back in the England squad right soon - but I don't see the industry of Heskey and Agbonlahor ever getting the team enough goals to make them a threat. You wouldn't put a two-man tent, let alone your house, on either of them beating the keeper in a one-on-one.

All this uncertainty means one thing - the best Premier League in years. Not least 'cos the bottom three are very hard to pick. All right, it'll be two plus Pompey.

Portsmouth may be forced to sell their best players and when that means losing the likes of Dindane and Kevin Prince-Boateng you can see how desperate their plight is. It would help if they were forced to pay their best players 'n all.

Only a fool would seek to make a prediction in the current climate, so here goes:
I'll stick to me pre-season nomination that Chelsea will win the title; I had United and Liverpool and Spurs behind them, so let's swap Liverpool for Arsenal and see how we go.

I can't see Hull surviving - they'll be down with Pompey, which leaves Burnley or Wolves to join them. Me, I hope it's the latter, if only 'cos Burnley are way easier on the eye, and put out a proper team each week.

Finally, a big raspberry to Fifa, who faced with overwhelming evidence of Thierry Henry's potential as a netball player, bottled it. 'Ooh we can't really do anything to ban the blatant handball merchant.' Marvellous. I bet them serial tumblers will think twice before decorating the World Cup with their dodgy two-step plunges. Not.


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