Crunch time

The Barclay’s Premier League’s table shows Manchester United 1st on 60 points with 29 games been played and Arsenal behind them in 2nd place on 57 points with them playing 28 games, but could the title race hot up even more over the next few weeks?

Chelsea are 4th in the table with 51 points, just 9 points behind leaders Manchester United with a game in hand over the club, but the game in hand isn’t the only thing that could affect the title race.

As it comes to crunch time for teams in the league some managers may find it difficult to end the season on a high note due to injuries to key players.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United squad has been hit with injuries in the past couple of weeks with crucial games coming up. Star winger Nani was injured in their last league game against Liverpool where they lost 3-1 away from home. Jamie Carragher made a rash challenge on the winger and now he’s expected to be out until the United’s game against West Ham on the 2nd of April.

Sir Alex has also had to find a replacement for centre back Rio Ferdinand who is still sidelined with a calf injury. The weekend’s game against Arsenal in the FA cup saw Chris Smalling put an impressive performance up against Arsenal’s strikers Robin Van Persie and Marouane Chamakh. But in future games could Smalling’s lack of experience be a problem for the red devils?

Sir Alex Ferguson isn’t the only manager with injury problems. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has a few injuries worries himself. His captain for instance. Cesc Fabregas passed a late fitness test when the gunners went to the Camp Nou to play Barcelona but was ruled out against Manchester United on Saturday. His hamstring problem is still a reoccurring issue, which means he will be a big miss for Arsenal as they look to push for their first league title in 7 years.

Other big losses for Arsenal are goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, a player that has forced his way into the first team this season but is out for six weeks after suffering a dislocated finger against Barcelona and defender Johan Djourou who is set to miss the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder. Both players putting on performances that have impressed on the pitch when given their chance by the manager. With Thomas Vermaelen still out with an Achilles problem, Arsenal fans could see Sebastien Squillaci and Manuel Almunia back in the starting line up.

Manchester City haven’t been hit to hard with injuries over the past couple of weeks, but have been hit with suspension as their defender Kolo Toure failed a drug test. He’s been suspended from all competitions until his hearing with the FA but is likely to face a two year ban if found guilty. A player with his experience, quality and leadership will surely be missed by any team and replacing him will be difficult but something City will need to do if they want to challenge for the top spot.

Last by not least Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea team. They’ve been lucky enough to have some of their vital players coming back to the squad in the up and coming weeks. David Luiz, one of their January signings, is one of the players who is still suffering a hamstring strain but could be back for the important game against City.

Fellow defender Alex is just coming back from an injury and will start training next week, whereas Yossi Benayoun has already started training again. Also, midfielder John Obi Mikel has recovered from his knee injury and has started training with the squad again and may be available against City.

With the top 4 clubs suffering injuries and suspensions to important players who will keep their focus and lift the Premiership crown at the end of the season? Will we see any upsets by other teams in the league? All I know is that we are in for an interesting couple of weeks for top flight football in England.

 By Jordan Brown

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