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Premier League race down to three

Party of Three
Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City appear poised for a dog fight.
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Warren Barton

Warren Barton draws on 16 years of professional soccer experience as a studio analyst for FOX Soccer. With more than 350 Barclays Premier League appearances, Barton starred for Wimbledon before rising to prominence with Newcastle United and the England national team. Follow him on Twitter.

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The table doesn’t lie. Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea are the ones fighting for the title now after a weekend that saw Liverpool’s hopes dim and Manchester United’s evaporate.

David Moyes was left looking lost on that sideline Sunday, and his body language really said it all. He was disgusted to see his captain, Nemanja Vidic, sent off for a really silly challenge late; he was lucky to see Rafael remain on the pitch after a tackle that I thought was worse; and he had no answers for a Chelsea side that looked better all day long. He looked glum before the match too, which I thought was shocking – confidence comes from the top, and if your manager doesn’t have it, where are the players to get it from?

Having said that, it’s easy enough for the supporters to blame the Glazer family and the manager, but at the end of the day, the players have to shoulder it too. Some of them aren’t good enough, and some of them just aren’t playing up to their pay. This is Manchester United, yet some of the performances and decisions have been very poor. They need to accept responsibility. The only bright spot is the young man Adnan Januzaj, who showed the desire and heart we used to associate with this team. We saw the clear-out begin this weekend with Anderson moving to Italy, and there’s more to come.

Chelsea, like City, just look very dogged right now. I’ve said before this is the time of the year you have to grind out the results, and they’re doing just that. It’s not always pretty, but give Mourinho credit for making Stamford Bridge a fortress. He’s rotating his team well, and they are playing that intimidating style that gets you results in this league.

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Manchester City and Arsenal also got key wins, and while they were expected, those games are the kind you have to take full points from. I don’t think either team were at their best, but good teams win games when they are playing poorly. These are two good teams. I do think that when the European campaign begins back up next month on FOX, they will be very tested, but for now, they loom confident and competent, and they are setting up a ferocious showdown.

Liverpool, on the other hand, did not win this weekend, and while I’ve said all along that they’re not good enough for the title, I think if I was Brendan Rodgers I might be a bit concerned. They looked a bit jaded and tired and allowed Villa to punish them early. Now, they fully deserved to get their first goal, but their second? There’s a lot of debate on that.

Luis Suarez earned a penalty under dubious circumstances. (Photo: Andrew Powell/Getty)

I don’t blame the referee on this, but I think it’s now clear Luis Suarez went to ground. Brad Guzan put his team and the official in a difficult spot by making that dash out, but you see the keeper tuck his arms in and avoid all contact. It’s a dive, and he’s won a point with it. Suarez, who has been so good this year, is better than this – he doesn’t need to dive to get goals, so it’s disappointing to see that from him.

I continue to be really pleased for my friends Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand at Tottenham, who picked up another deserved win this Sunday over Swansea. It’s good to see them getting things sorted out because that’s a good team with some good players that were just badly managed.

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And of course it’s always good to see my lads come away with another good three points on the road. I don’t think that was ever in doubt against West Ham, and Big Sam’s now really in a dogfight. The bottom race is really tense. You have six teams there in a struggle, and I’m not confident in any of them to be honest! That’s going to go right to the wire and with Palace getting a bit of a lift now with Tony Pulis, where are West Ham, Sunderland and Cardiff to make up the ground? They have to hope Fulham and Swansea keep sliding, I think. No matter how you look at it, it’s going to be ugly.

We take a break from the Prem this next week for a competition I love: the FA Cup. It’s on FOX from Friday through Sunday and there are some great games. I always loved playing in this tournament – the passion, the romance and the fact that it is just very English – make it so special. Arsenal face off against my colleague Cobi Jones’ old side, Coventry City, on Friday and we’ve got action all the way through Sunday afternoon.

I love chatting with you guys, so do take a moment to follow me on Twitter at @WarrenBarton2. It’s a lot of fun to be able to banter with you guys! And don’t forget, you can always ask questions to us at @FOXSoccer. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you again next week!

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