Straight from the dark heart of Italy
So another year comes tumbling to a end quicker than you can say "Filippo Inzaghi's offside" and Serie Aaaaargh! would like to bring 2008 to a close with its very own take on the Serie A table.
Six points ahead of Juventus and a further nine in front of Fiorentina and AC Milan ensure that there is no argument that Inter are the team of the season so far.
On top of that, Jose Mourinho’s men have not only scored the most goals, but conceded the fewest. The only blemish so far is that they may be a little too dependent on the maverick skills and goals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Juventus deserve their second place and despite losing to Inter are the only viable title rival going into the second half of the season. Claudio Ranieri has dug deep and built a dogged outfit that can still chip away at that deficit at the top.
Just two points outside the final Champions League spot, Napoli have been a joy to watch, especially at the San Paolo. If only they could recreate that form away from home – they've only chalked up two wins on the road – Edy Reja’s exciting young team could be a genuine top-four contender.
See Naples and die: Napoli's home sweet home
Another side whose home form have taken them within touching distance of the top-four is Genoa and in the princely Diego Milito they have the player of the season so far.
As annoying as Antonio Cassano in a strop, Catania have been another surprise and are starting to get under the skin of the top teams. Walter Zenga has turned the Sicilians into almost unbeatable at home and once again if they could only win away, then Europe beckons.
They got off to a terrible start to the campaign and then crashed out of the Champions League, but suddenly Fiorentina have found their dash and bravado that took the Tuscans to fourth last season.
If they stay consistent and keep providing Alberto Gilardino with goal-scoring chances then a repeat of last season is assured.
Congratulations to Atalanta, Cagliari and Siena who are never going to see their name in lights but have under their astute coaches caught some of the big names cold.
Milan may be fourth and taken the most points of any team at home, but having set out to challenge for the title, poor old Carlo Ancelotti has presided over some of the most inept performances from a Rossoneri side in many a long year – and then there has been the showboating of Ronaldinho and the David Beckham saga.
Lazio and Udinese flew out of the blocks but both have run out of steam of late. The Romans can still turn their season around if Delio Rossi can get his players to accept a revamped 4-4-2 formation whilst Udinese’s nosedive has been spectacular to say the least – one point in the last seven games is more like relegation form.
Sixth last season and now sixth-bottom, Sampdoria have demonstrated so far that they are nothing more than a one-man team, and when Cassano doesn’t turn it on Samp slump.
"Must I do everything myself?"
Who would have thought AS Roma would be pinning their hopes on a kind draw in the Champions League to save their season? A disastrous start was arrested by five consecutive league wins but going into the New Year, Luciano Spalletti’s team are nine points off fourth and need to hit the ground running.
Lecce, Bologna, Reggina and Chievo have struggled to varying degrees although Torino would not have pictured themselves in such a perilous situation and will be glad to see the back of 2008.
Here’s to 2009!
Serie Aaaaargh! alternative table
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