Paging the EPL adjustment bureau

March, 11, 2011

Like all good movies, Matt Damon's new film "The Adjustment Bureau" operates on many levels: There's the difficulties of navigating lower Manhattan in a hat, the singular magic of an Anglo-American love affair, and what to do when the best laid plans go rogue, just to name a few. But as deliciously convoluted as this celluloid caper is, it's got nothing on the crazy EPL season that is building to an epic climax.

On the big screen, mysterious men in gray chapeaus plot life's course and go into Arsene Wenger-Barcelona-DEFCON-mode when things don't quite go as planned. They can't understand what's happened to their perfectly predictable world. I know how they feel.

In September, I was ready to hand Chelsea the EPL title. The defending champion made scoring goals look easy. Then things suddenly got chaotic for the Blues -- and, well, just about everyone else, too.

It was unexpected, to say the least. As was the sight of Liverpool hovering near the relegation zone for a while there. When Manchester United blew a two-goal lead at home against my beloved Baggies, it was hard to make sense of it all.

Of course, West Brom finally did the expected and went into an EPL tailspin. And for pure EPL normalcy there is nothing like Manchester United sitting atop the table as Christmas celebrations morphed into the mid-winter doldrums. Throw in the annual Carlos Tevez tantrum, the Wayne Rooney tabloid hysteria, plus the peculiar Sam Allardyce pink slip, and, well, the Prem hit its dysfunctional stride again.

But as those well-meaning dapper dudes in the Adjustment Bureau discovered, you can't take anything for granted when it comes to passion plays. And that's certainly the case with the EPL.

Before you could say, "Villa paid how much for Darren Bent?" there were more double-takes for fans to absorb than You Tube hits of Sarah Silverman's genius riff on her "relationship" with a certain Boston Red Sox-loving movie star. Arsenal couldn't hold a four-goal lead at Newcastle, Rooney literally turned the Manchester derby upside-down, and West Ham won two-in-a-row in the league. And perhaps strangest of all: The Red Devils lost two-in-a-row…the second match to a Dirk Kuyt hat trick, no less.

But it all works for me. Has there ever been an EPL season like this one? There is a case to be made for as many as five teams being able to still win the title, and certainly if it comes down to just Arsenal and United, it'll be enough to keep fans and neutrals riveted right to the end of the season. And as we head down the home stretch, the relegation zone is casting its ominous shadow over almost half the league.

The EPL is taking a much-needed breather this weekend as the last remaining Premiership teams (along with Reading) battle for FA Cup glory. But the real stuff will be back with more twists and turns soon. How this all plays out is anybody's guess. And that's what makes the EPL so special this year. One team will have the Hollywood ending, but not even the boys over at the Adjustment Bureau can tell you who that will be.

I'll dare to make one EPL prediction -- strap on your safety belt, because it's going to be a wild ride all the way to the last day of the season.



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