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English Premier League: three talking points

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

11-27-2015 15:05 BJT

By Colin Robinson, CNTV Sports Commentator
 
Welcome to EPL3TP, where each week I give you three talking points to keep you clued in when you chat with your more knowledgeable friends.

1

Leicester’s true underdog story continues

There are no prizes to be won for being top of the league with 25 games left, but Leicester City is now top of the Premier League. No one could have predicted it when Leicester was languishing at the bottom for much of last season. It seemed a stretch for the club to even stay in the Premier League.

Then after manager Nigel Pearson resigned at the close of the season, it seemed another season of struggles awaited. His replacement, Italian journeyman Claudio Raineri, was deemed “uninspiring” by legendary ex Leicester forward Gary Lineker, and made only slight changes.

Yet the settled nature of the squad and strong team spirit has paid dividends, delivering eight wins, four draws and a solitary defeat.

Much like his coach, Jamie Vardy also epitomizes Leicester’s underdog spirit. Just a few years ago, the forward was playing in the semi-professional leagues. Last season, he finished as a left winger with five goals; this season, he has scored 13 times in 13 games and will set a record for scoring in the most consecutive PL games if he nets against Manchester United next weekend.

With a tough run of matches before the New Year that includes fixtures against Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, who knows how long Leicester’s reign will last? Still, its dramatic ascent is remarkable, regardless of where it finishes at the season’s end. It’s best to give credit to a team punching above its weight before it inevitably gets beaten down by bigger, wealthier clubs.

Wenger falls victim to Big Interview Curse

A Premier League manager giving a big interview to a broadsheet or glossy about their “philosophy” is the surest way to guarantee disappointment in the next few matches. And typically, the more high-brow and cerebral the interview, the more painful and humbling the defeat that follows.

To wit: In September 2014, the Daily Telegraph published an interview with Paul Lambert about Aston Villa’s “fine start” to the season. His team then proceeded to lose its next six matches, and Lambert was fired a few months later. Before him, Roberto Martinez talked up his first season in charge of Everton before beginning his second with a run of one win in six games.

So when L'Équipe Sport and Style asked to interview Arsene Wenger ahead of a crucial home derby against archrival Tottenham and an away match against West Brom—the type of direct and unflashy side that has often derailed Arsenal’s title hopes throughout his two decades in charge—he should have known better than to accept.

Just days after Wenger described himself as “a facilitator of what is beautiful in man,” Arsenal struggled to draw against Tottenham. Then, at the Hawthorns Saturday, it fell to a soul-crushing 2-1 defeat to Tony Pulis’s side, missing a penalty and losing midfielder Francis Coquelin to a serious injury.

With a trip to Carrow Road to face Nowich Sunday, will the Gunners recover or continue to languish from the effects of the Big Interview Curse?

Shearer shows pains of an ex-footballer

BBC pundit Alan Shearer lived the dream of children around the world: He spent a decade carrying the hopes of his hometown team, Newcastle United, on his shoulders, became the Premier League’s record goalscorer, and captained his country.

But every footballer will one day become an ex-footballer. Once their bodies give in, they have few avenues, and none will match the adrenaline rushes, adulation and incredible earning power of their playing days.

Shearer had a brief, unsuccessful stint as Newcastle manager, during which he couldn’t affect change on the club’s fortunes from the dugout as he could on the pitch. After failing in one field dominated by ex-players, Shearer has spent the majority of his post-playing days in another, as a BBC pundit, providing analysis of each week’s PL action on BBC’s Match of the Day show and becoming the voice of NUFC fans.

Shearer’s pain at his boyhood team’s latest performance, a 0-3 defeat at home to Leicester that he described as “woeful, embarrassing, hopeless and inept,” was clear for all to see. And his suffering is greater than that of most fans, because he has lost his power to absolve it. Where once he could change his team’s fortunes with a well-struck penalty, a 30-yard volley or a bullet header, he can now only shake his head and sigh, just like the rest of us.

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.



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