For college basketball, March Madness is where the games get more exciting. For the English Premier League, April is where soccer matches get more intense. The end of the regular season for the Barclays Premier League is May 11, so during the month of April, everyone starts fighting for not only the top spot, but to get out of the bottom three spots so that they won’t be relegated for next year. Right now, Chelsea is just over Liverpool for first place in the league with 69 points (Liverpool has 68). Chelsea’s defense is the best in the league with only 23 goals allowed and is the major reason why they are at the top. A win for Manchester City could spring them to the top if both Chelsea and Liverpool lose their next game. Chelsea should notch an easy win against Crystal Palace on Saturday after coming off a dominating 6-0 victory over Arsenal. Liverpool, however, will have a challenging match against Tottenham on Sunday. For now, Manchester City will have to worry about their upcoming showdown with Arsenal tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. eastern time. Arsenal will be looking for their 20th win of the season as they are looming around 4th place in the table. What makes the top three teams different from any other team in the league is their dominance. Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all have a goal differential of 39 or more. No other team in the league is even close to that number (Arsenal is the closest with 19).
As for Manchester United, they have struggled with consistency this season. They lost to a nearly sell-out crowd at Old Trafford against Manchester City 3-0 last Tuesday. They were able to beat West Ham and West Bromwich recently, but they fell short against Liverpool 3-0 on March 16th. Manchester United has faltered greatly against top teams and that is the main reason why they are sitting at seventh in the standings behind Tottenham Hotspur and Everton. The triple threat of Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Danny Welbeck has proved somewhat successful, seeing that those three players are in the top 20 in goals scored. Rooney’s 13 goals is tied for 6th in the league and Van Persie has 11 goals accredited to his name.
The most impressive performance so far is Liverpool’s deadly combination of top goal-scorer Luis Suarez and young Daniel Sturridge. They are the only players in the Premier League with 20 goals are more and they are on the same team! It’s no surprise that Liverpool has the best offense in England with 84 goals scored.Suarez has had a year he will never forget. The 27-year-old from Uruguay has 28 goals and 11 assists, which are tremendous numbers for this point in the season. Last year, he only had 23 goals and 5 assists for the whole season! The last time Suarez was this dominant at his position was when he played for Ajax Amsterdam back in the 2009-10 season where he put up 35 goals and 4 assists. He is definitely at the prime of his career and looks to add on to his astounding numbers later on in the season as April comes around.
Another big reason why April is so much fun to watch is the semi-finals of the FA Cup. On April 12, Arsenal will play Wigan Athletic and Sheffield United will play Hull City on April 13. Arsenal was expected to advance this far, but no one expected these other three teams to be where they are right now. Hull City are 13th in the Premier League and Sheffield and Wigan are not even in the League! This Cup tournament is a true underdog story, no matter who advances to the top.
Speaking of underdogs, Everton has surprised many fans with their rise to glory. They are only 5th in the League and are above teams like Tottenham and Manchester United. Their defense and ability to succeed in close games are the main reasons why they are near the top of the standings. They are 3rd in goals allowed behind Chelsea and Manchester City and that’s due in large part to United States’ goalkeeper Tim Howard who has 81 saves so far this year. They are currently on a four-game win streak heading into their upcoming match with Fulham on Sunday. Everton has always been overlooked by the bigger and more popular teams like Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and the others, but historically, Everton has always been a formidable opponent in the Barclays Premier League ever since they were the founders of the Football League in 1888. They have played more matches in the highest division than any other club, and have been outside it for only four years out of the 126 years they have played. Look out for Everton when April comes round, they might surprise a few folks.