The Six Pointer – Fearsome Run-Ins, Grim Up North(East) & more…

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That was the weekend that was.

 

1. So, it appears we might have a title race after all. With defeat to Fulham, Man Utd have lost consecutive league games for the first time since 2004. Their lead has been cut down to one although they still have that game in hand against Portsmouth. It was a slightly surprsing line up with neither Rooney or Tevez’s hustling qualities in the team and I think Vidic was missed as well. Even so, there were plenty of chances to equalise before the second sending off and goal. The momentum is very much with Liverpool at the moment and the international break has come at a great time for Fergie’s men. It will allow him to get things in order and generally get his players ready for the run in. I maintain the title is United’s to lose as if they win their game in hand Liverpool will still need them to slip up twice more. At least it isn’t the procession we thought it would be, and with the Champions League quarter finals coming up to mess weekend lineups about, I’m sure there may yet be a twist in the tale. Let’s give credit to Fulham too, they have now beaten Arsenal and Man Utd plus drawn with Chelsea and Liverpool. They could well finish seventh at the end of the season and it would be no less than they deserve based on their performances this year. A year ago they were on the verge of relegation but with a few inspired summer signings like Schwarzer they have completely turned it around.

Temper temper. Oh no, too late...

Temper temper. Oh no, too late...

 

2. Arsenal took advantage of some lax defending and a missed penalty to beat Newcastle on Saturday evening. They are currently on their longest unbeaten run (15 games) since the 2003/04 Invincibles season. Whilst this side is nowhere near the level of that one, on their day they can beat any team in the Premier League. Arshavin looks an inspired signing who keeps going even when serially assaulted (thanks for that Steven Taylor) while Robin Van Persie has more assists than any other player with ten. Whilst the title won’t be coming to the Emirates this year, Arsenal will have a big say in where it does go seeing as they still have to play the three teams ahead of them. If they get meet Man Utd in the Champions League semi finals, they will have a quite fearsome eight game run of Chelsea (FA Cup), Liverpool, Middlesbrough, Man Utd (CL), Portsmouth, Man Utd (CL), Chelsea , Man Utd. Lots of ifs there, but imagine trying to play your first choice XI for every one of those games!

Good times

Good times

 

3. I think Aston Villa were a bit unlucky to lose 5-0 yesterday. They had a few chances to equalise when one down, and the two penalty decisions were a little harsh in my opinion. The second one in particular where Friedel got sent off is definitely worth an appeal. He didn’t challenge Torres, just stood his ground. You can’t make yourself disappear out of the way. The Kop seemed to agree as they applauded him off. Steven Gerrard meanwhile showed why he is late contender for player of the year with his first ever league hat-trick. If you look at the difference between him and Ronaldo for the past month or two, you realise that he could yet inspire Liverpool to that elusive league title.

 

4. It’s looking pretty grim for teams in the north east at the moment. Middlesbrough have been joined by Newcastle in the relegation zone and along with Sunderland and Hull, form the bulk of the bottom of the form table. There’s a distinct possibility that Newcastle will go down and their run in is not the easiest. Of their remaining eight games, perhaps only Boro at home is a banker but it will be the games against Stoke away and Portsmouth at home that will determine whether they stay up. Joe Kinnear is making noises about being nearly ready to return but I wonder if he will. They clearly need someone as Chris Hughton is a good coach but a soft manager. I wonder whether Ashley should just bring in El Tel Venables or someone similar for the last month. It would still be a big shock if Newcastle went down, I was trying to think of the last ‘big’ team that got relegated and I’d say it was probably Leeds in 2004. Would the Geordies come straight back up? With that club you never be sure of anything…

Can he repeat the trick?

Can he repeat the trick?

 

5. Hull lost yet again at the weekend and it appears Phil Brown is going a bit crazy as the pressure increases. We didn’t really talk about the Fabregas incident last week but Brown has come out of it much worse. They have just one win in something like sixteen games, and Hull’s manager is clearly trying anything to take the pressure off his side. His bizarre rant about Fabregas spitting (seems unlikely), Wenger not shaking his hand twice (he did, twice) and various other things have just put the focus even more on him. Hull are unfortunate to have lost Jimmy Bullard to injury but the verve of earlier in the season has gone. Their next three games are against fellow strugglers and I think Hull will need five or six points from those to avoid being in serious trouble. 

 

6. Top of the form table at the moment? Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Redknapp has finally got them playing some half decent football and they haven’t had a Carling Cup hangover like last season.  An impressive win over Chelsea leaves them only three points off seventh and fighting with Man City, Fulham, West Ham and Wigan to get that potential Europa League spot. Considering how much they tried to get knocked out of this season’s version, I’m not entirely sure why they’re bothering.

 

T.

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One Response to “The Six Pointer – Fearsome Run-Ins, Grim Up North(East) & more…”

  1. LnddMiles Says:

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