The Six Pointer – Pressure and focus, little Russians & more…

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That was the weekend that was…

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1. So Man City powered their way to victory over Chelsea but it remains to be seen whether they just turn up for the big games. Mark Hughes will be glad to have won after seven straight draws especially as they had to come from behind to do it. I’m still dubious of the team spirit at Eastlands (any team with Adebayor in it can’t be that determined) but it was by far their best performance of the season.

Tevez looks like he’s finally contributing some goals but once more Given was the man who saved City’s skin with a penalty save from Frank Lampard. I think Hughes was chatting rubbish about the pressure Lampard was under (Compared to this? Really?) but Hughes chats a lot of rubbish a lot of the time.

In many ways the more focus on him the less focus on his under performing players, but the more his players under perform (this week aside) the more focus and scrutiny on Hughes.

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2. Typical Arsenal to show that you can spend all week worrying about how to attack against Stoke’s pair of 6’2″ centre-backs when you have no big strikers fit, yet 5’7″ Andrei Arshavin shows he can do the job instead. The little Russian regularly reveals his desire to play centrally at Arsenal and his wish was finally granted against Stoke. He was instrumental in the 2-0 win and could have had a hat trick if his first touch hadn’t deserted him a couple of times.

It will be interesting to see how Wenger goes forward. With Bendtner back quite soon there could be a switch back to 4-4-2 with the Dane and the Russian up front. Or more likely the 4-3-3 will stick but with Bendtner resuming his wide role of earlier this season while Arshavin continues up front in the middle.

Andrei Arshavin Arsenal

Brains not brawn.

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3. Since their 9-1 demolition of Wigan, Spurs have gone on to draw their next two league games and also get knocked out of the Carling Cup. With at least one if not two Champions League places up for grabs due to the open nature of this season’s Premier League, Tottenham would do well to regain some consistency if they harbour dreams of filling one of the two spots.

When 2-0 up against a team with Everton’s injury problems, you should not be throwing that lead away. Even when given a chance to win it at the death, Jermaine Defoe contrived to miss a penalty (Keane wasn’t on the pitch). Points against Villa and Everton aren’t necessarily bad ones but it’s the manner in which they’ve been gained which will be of concern to Harry Redknapp. He of all people will know that a cushion needs to be built up ahead of the chasing teams. Especially when you consider at the business end of the season Tottenham have a three game consecutive run against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd.

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4. When exactly does Rafa Benitez plan to give Alberto Aquilani his league debut? Given that he has presumably been fit for at least a cameo since his Carling Cup debut against Arsenal on 28th October, it seems strange that he has yet to make a league appearance. Surely when you’re drawing against Blackburn and not playing well, it would be a good time to bring him on?

Alberto Aquilani Liverpool

That bench must be getting warm.../

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5. Bobby Zamora for England? I think not. He does get unfair press sometimes given that Emile Heskey is similarly a hard-working striker who can’t score for toffee yet is lauded as a World Cup certainty. However, Heskey has proven himself over 57 caps as a great partner for first Owen and now Rooney.

Zamora can chase lost causes all he wants but Capello will be choosing his World Cup forwards from a shortlist of: Rooney, Heskey, Defoe, Crouch, Bent, Agbonlahor and Cole. At least three players on that list can do everything Zamora does and more. The rest score goals, something the Fulham striker simply doesn’t do enough of.

Bobby Zamora Fulham England

"Shut your f-ing mouths!"

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6. Another so-so Man United performance (though convincing in the end), another win. The masters of winning with the minimum of fuss. Zola meanwhile deserves time – the man has no money to spend and a squad full of injuries. Interestingly for a team with the defensive nous of Steve Clarke as assistant manager, West Ham haven’t kept a clean sheet since August.

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T.

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