Monday, March 1, 2010

Our record against the Super Sky Four

One of the things that the weekend's victory over Chelsea highlights is just how good we've been against the so-called 'Big Four' this season. In fact, our points-per-game against Chelsea, the Rags, Arsenal, and Liverpool even surpasses those teams above us in the table.

Bearing in mind we have two fixtures to come (Manchester United at home and Arsenal away, both in April), our current record in all competitions against the aforementioned Big Four is as follows:

Arsenal (h) W 4-2
United (a) L 3-4
Liverpool (a) D 2-2
Arsenal (h) W 3-0
Chelsea (h) W 2-1
United (h) W 2-1
United (a) L 1-3
Liverpool (h) D 0-0
Chelsea (a) W 4-2

In nine matches, this gives us a record of five wins, two draws, and two losses, at an average of 1.89 points per game, and scoring 21 goals to 15 in the process. Compare this with Chelsea and the Rags, who sit on 1.86 and 1.43 points-per-game respectively, in all matches against 'Big Four' rivals plus City (and before you have a go at my maths, these figures include all domestic matches against the other teams, including fixtures in the League Cup and the Community Shield. It's correct, trust me).

What does this tell us? Firstly, never write of City in any match, despite the opponent. Secondly, there's a bit of money to be made from the bookies...

But it proves once and for all that we are more successful against the more skillful teams — those that prefer to play football rather than long-ball merchants or big-eared mugs throwing the ball into the net. It also shows that the teams traditionally pencilled-in for Champions League football before the start of the season are actually able to be beaten — both at home and away.

Did anyone in their wildest dreams actually think it would be possible to do the double over Chelsea? Or to come within Fergie Time of snatching a draw at Vermin Towers — not once, but twice? Or to beat Arsenal so convincingly at home in the League and the Carling Cup?

We're also the only team in the league not to be beaten at home this season. Yes, we may have dropped too many points in the form of draws to the likes of Hull, Burnley, and Fulham, but Fortress Eastlands is still intact. Which is very important considering we still the likes of United, Aston Villa, Tottenham, and Everton are all yet to visit. These will be key fixtures in the battle for fourth.

At the end of the campaign, whatever the outcome, whether we qualify for Champions League football or not, we will look back at the moments that define the season, whether it be conceding a late equaliser to Burnley or victory at Stamford Bridge. Considering our current form against the Big Four, there is no reason that Mancini and his men should fear any side we face. After all, if we can beat Chelsea, we can beat anyone. Even Stoke. Maybe.

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