Sunday, May 11, 2014

City Win Title … By the Numbers

City won 2-0 today at the Ethiad over West Ham to seal their second title in three seasons – completing a turnaround that looked highly unlikely a few short weeks ago, after a loss to Liverpool and late draw to Sunderland. Now they are Champions once again, with an assist to Chelsea. It was one of the most exciting title races ever, though there was no 94th minute winner necessary this time around. I thought I would finish the season with a look at some numbers that have defined the campaign:

  • 100: Million pounds that is … or the total, more or less, the Champions have lost in excess of the allowable total in winning the title. Unless they decide to appeal the FFP decision, they will have to play the UCL with a squad of 21 next year, cut their budget and spend substantially less than they are used to in the transfer market. It is thus possible this could be the last title for City for a few years, though I certainly wouldn’t count them out for a third in four next year. The fact that PSG is also in for FFP punishment and won the French League does call into question the influence of money in European football and the way it increasing mirrors the bulging inequalities capitalized on by the global plutocracy. The exciting story amidst the titles by rich, powerful European clubs is Atletico Madrid, who could win La Liga the Champions League, or both in the next few weeks.
  • 15: The number of days City have been in the lead of the EPL table this season. Of course they finished with the most important numbers of all (3 points today for a total of 86 – two better than Liverpool – and a goal difference of 65). They also scored 102 goals in the league, though failing to keep pace with their record-setting total in the first half.
  • 9: The age of Steven Gerrard when Liverpool last won the title. That his slip might have cost Liverpool the crown must be a cruel irony he will live with the rest of his life (even if the Reds go on to win it before he retires).
  • 12-14: A narrative that has emerged is that Liverpool blew the title this term, as they led with three games to play, but it is hard to fully embrace that argument when they won 12 of their final 14 games, only losing 2-0 to Chelsea and the 3-3 collapse to Crystal. But it was an impressive season.
  • 31: Luis Suarez tied the mark for goals in a 38 game season with 31, but could easily have killed the record but for a fall off in productivity toward the end of the season. His tepid game against Chelsea and missed opportunities against Crystal must smart, even with all the accolades and awards. As a Gooner, I can’t help but wonder what could have been had to actually made the move to North London.
  • 7/68/151: Arsenal finished 7 points off the total of City, after leading for 151 days of the 266 or so days that comprise a season. That they only scored 68 goals (against 41 conceded – with 20 coming in 4 games) must be considered the biggest disappointment of the season, particularly as everyone except Wenger seemed certain they needed another striker. But watching Ramsey score a sublime goal, on a lovely pass across the box from Giroud, after he had missed a gild-edged chance himself, sort of wrapped up the second half collapse – with Ramsey dearly missed and Giroud missing too many clear chances (particularly in big games).
  • 1: Carl Jenkinson scored his first goal for Arsenal – a nice end to a season where he spent most of his time on the bench following the end of the injury-woes of departing Sagna. He grew up an Arsenal fan and couldn't hide his pure joy in finally getting off the snide. On a related note, Sanogo saw 20 minutes more on the pitch and still failed to score, making his first injury-plagued season for Arsenal a clear disappointment – as he finished with the unwanted goose egg in all competitions.
  • 2005: Heading into the FA Cup Final against Hull City next weekend, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal can finally end their trophy drought … now standing at 9 years. It would be a wonderful finish to the season, and if rumours are to be believed, could end up being Wenger’s last game – as he is linked with the Monaco job. Hard to believe he would leave, but who knows with the mercurial Frenchman, who could leave on a high with a nice foundation for a title push again next season.
  • 0: The number of titles or silverware of any kind for Jose Mourinho in the past two years. It has been a period of many almosts for the Special One, and I, for one, am happy to see his negative tactics and circus-like behavior falling just short. 

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