The Six Pointer – Playing to Strengths, Magpies Strife & more…

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That was the weekend that was.

 

1. With three quarters of the big four involved in FA Cup semi final action this weekend, it left the focus on the relegation battle in the Premier League. Stoke had a huge victory against Blackburn which has pretty much ensures their survival. They may not play pretty football and they may not be liked, but they are effective and their home form is as good as any team in the league. Only Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool have gained more points at their home grounds. 39 points should be enough to stay up given the number of teams below them and the number of points they’re ahead of Middlesbrough. I’m sure they’ll get something in their next four games too, just to make sure they don’t go to the Emirates on the last day needing a result to stay up.

Delap power + manager in a baseball cap = Survival

Delap power + manager in a baseball cap = Survival

 

2. Newcastle were rubbish against Spurs, though Obafemi Martins did look lively. Shearer is right in that they have to win the home games against Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham. Those nine points would take them to 39 and their superior goal difference to some of those around them could yet prove handy. The one problem they face is there is little semblance of any form at the club, have only won four home games this season and they have to overtake two other teams to get out of the drop zone. I would think Hull, Boro, Blackburn and Sunderland would be potential targets but the latter two both still have games/free passes against West Brom. It’s going to be very, very tight and the game next week against Portsmouth could essentially be the game which decides their fate.

 

3. Aston Villa have won just five home games all year, more than only Hull, Newcastle and Blackburn. They face a big battle to avoid coming sixth.

Not exactly a case of home comforts.

Not exactly a case of home comforts.

 

4. Arsenal (a), Man Utd (h), Newcastle (a), Aston Villa (h), West Ham (a). From where will Middlesbrough get the points to stay up?

 

5. The FA Cup produced two very dull games. Arsenal will be very disappointed to have be knocked out given their recent lack of trophies, but they have no one to blame but themselves. Well no one to blame but Wenger and Fabianski. The team selection was very baffling, with Song, Arshavin and Nasri left on the bench in favour of Diaby and Denilson. This resulted in not only was their best defensive midfielder not playing but also their two most creative threats. I could understand Wenger thinking he needed to counteract the size of Chelsea’s midfield but Diaby and Denilson were very poor. Song has been one of Arsenal’s best players in recent weeks and would have offered a vital defensive shield as well as perhaps closing down Lampard before he hit his two long ball assists. Arshavin meanwhile was fully rested, playing against his national team manager and perhaps the only player who would have offered a surprise factor. Ultimately you have to play your best team in semi final against Chelsea and to be saving Song and Arshavin for tomorrow night’s game against Liverpool seemed a bit short sighted. Third place (and thus automatic CL qualification) is still attainable but it’s unlikely. Ultimately, sometimes it’s better not to worry about the opposition and play to your own strengths instead. Chelsea did exactly this and Drogba’s outmuscling of the last defender for the winner was a perfect example of why they are in the FA Cup final and Arsenal are not.

 

6. If you thought Saturday’s game was dull, yesterday’s second semi between Everton and Man Utd was even worse. I had the misfortune of deciding to live blog it and I was rewarded with 120 minutes of no action bar a penalty that should have been given for Jagielka’s challenge on Welbeck. The shootout was notable for a terrible penalty from Berbatov and Jagielka ironically converting the winning kick. I think Fergie will be disappointed that the quintuple dream is over but in reality it was never likely to happen. He has bigger fish to fry and will be more concerned with three points against Pompey on Wednesday, as demonstrated with his team selection. Seeing as it went all the way to extra time he will be glad only Vidic and Rio played from his first choice XI. As for David Moyes , he deserves his day out in the sun. His Everton side are hard working but with enough skill to do well against the big sides. They may just end up beating Chelsea on May 30th.

How not to take a spotkick

How not to take a spotkick.

 

T.

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