Liverpool chihuahuas join two horses and a jaguar in title race

Feb 13, 2014
Jonathan Harwood

How do the teams fighting for the Premier League crown measure up to their animal avatars?

GARY LINEKER may have to quit his job on Match of the Day and let Dr Doolittle take over as the Premier League title race starts to resemble a chaotic zoo breakout.
Liverpool's last-gasp victory over Fulham, in which the Reds twice came from behind before Steven Gerrard sealed a 3-2 win with a stoppage-time penalty, propelled them to within four points of league leaders Chelsea, who, like Arsenal in second, could only draw this week.
That was the cue for Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers to describe his team as "the chihuahuas that run inbetween the horses' legs".
His comment was an oblique reference to Jose Mourinho's assertion last week that the title race involved "two big horses and a nice horse" – meaning Arsenal, Man City and his own Chelsea team, bizarrely characterised as "a little horse that still needs milk and to learn how to jump".
However, Mourinho soon tired of his equine analogy and after Chelsea beat Newcastle, aka the Magpies, on Saturday he declared it was "time to kill the horses" before rebranding Man City as a "jaguar" – although he may have been talking about the car rather than the South American big cat.
But do the four clubs vying for the title live-up to their animalistic alter egos?
'Big horse' Arsenal: The Gunners certainly have the reputation of a thoroughbred racehorse, with slick passing and elegant football the hallmarks of Arsene Wenger's team. They are also regarded as a side that is easily spooked, while Wenger has often been accused of wearing blinkers. Whether or not this current team has the stamina of a big horse and can last the distance in the title race remains to be seen.
'Jaguar' Man City: Manuel Pellegrini's side are certainly predatory, with well over a hundred goals already this season. But a jaguar is also known for its camouflage and City have developed a habit of disappearing at certain times - usually away from home. The club also has a South American flavour, with a Chilean manager, a bevvy of Argentines, including striker Sergio Aguero, and a Brazilian in the ranks.
'Little horse' Chelsea: Fans of their rivals may think Jose Mourinho's team are "pony", but this is possibly the least convincing characterisation of the lot. Only five of the squad come in at under six foot and the team is packed with well-known jumpers - John Terry and Ashley Cole spring to mind.
'Chihuahua' Liverpool: There are no Mexicans at Anfield but Rodgers' description of his team has some merit. Chihuahuas can be very aggressive and will often snap and bite people, just like Luis Suarez. The Reds team also has some pint-sized performers, including Phillippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling, Victor Moses and Joe Allen. Their refusal to give up the title race proves their dogged credentials.

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