Lennon. The supposed weak link who has been greatly missed by Spurs.

by Steven S

Good morning Cutters, hopefully this review catches you all in good weekend spirits after a tough four day week acclimatising back to life at work following last week’s reprieve. With things heating up at both ends of the table and Stoke, West Brom and Swansea having left for their hols, I’ll waste no time Delapping you straight into the action.

Just when we thought title number twenty had been wrapped up by the Lord of the Premiership following City’s defeat against Arsenal on the weekend, United ran straight into the end of season Wigan train. Bang on time as usual, Martinez’s men are the form side in the bottom half of the table taking sixteen of the last thirty points available. Having now finally climbed out of the relegation spots, they are gearing up for yet another improbable escape.

There are moments in the season where Fergie is concerned about a forthcoming performance, apparently standing at the dressing room door to shake his player’s hands as they head for the pitch. Midweek away to Wigan was one of those games and it seems he had every right to worry with United offering very little against a team they had never even dropped a point against. Of course every record will be broken but it is the manner of the defeat that will concern the manager who at minimum demands total commitment on the field.

Man City on the other hand have seen the deficit cut to only five points with their rivals still to arrive at the Etihad towards the end of April. City’s performance was reminiscent of their approach before Christmas, where they trampled over nearly everyone they came up against. The pressure seemed to evaporate not only on the pitch but across the stadium when three goals in ten minutes were added to their first half lead. If we see them continue in the same vein away to Norwich on the weekend, the title race is still very much alive.

No doubt Fergie will seek and get a response from his team as is the norm so this could be a title decided on the very last day. If there are only two points separating them come Sunday 13th May and with City clear favourites to win at home to QPR, the key fixture could be United away to Sunderland. Now a very hard place to visit and take away a point let alone three, a draw may not be enough given City’s superior goal difference. The hardest factor Fergie will have to face up to is no Steve Bruce on the Sunderland bench ready to roll over and be tickled. Game on.

When exactly did Aaron Lennon become such a crucial ingredient to a team’s success? Much like his Arsenal counterpart Theo Walcott, the little man has still never quite achieved the consistency to really develop his game. Yet the more time he has spent away from the Tottenham starting line up through injury this season, his teammates play has become increasingly narrow.

The depth of Tottenham’s squad was supposed to be a key factor in why they could challenge for at least a CL spot if not more further up the table. Bale and Lennon have helped to stretch their fast, precise passing game until they lose one to injury or suspension with no replacement able to come in and do a similar job. Along with a long term solution needed in goal, replacing Ledley King and another striker desired to play with Defoe or Saha who are two players who struggle in a 433.

Not too long before Wigan usually start their season, Everton begin their four month Premiership campaign, suddenly appearing in the top half of the table. The perennial question of exactly why David Moye’s sides take so long to click into gear remains unanswered, which defies logic given the general stability of the playing personnel. It is also worth remembering that post Christmas turnarounds are a befitting quality for those looking toward a Manchester Untied post Fergie position.

The key to Everton’s continual over achievement comes down to a tight team unit with every squad member prepared to adapt where required. The reason that their final positions are not realistic targets at the start of the season is due to the lack of a regular goal scoring striker and Jelavic appears to be the man able to solve an issue that has restricted the club for far too many years.  Five goals in ten appearances mark a fantastic start for a newcomer to the league who along with the possible return of Pienaar over the summer could offer a season of real promise.

FA Cup Semi Finals at Wembley this weekend, all relatively calm over at Stamford Bridge as the AVB cloud fully dissolves to reveal the beaming chops of Di Matteo. A huge schedule starts for Chelsea as they face Tottenham in the FA Cup, Barcelona midweek, away to Arsenal on Saturday morning, back over to face Barcelona for the second leg, at home for a West London derby with QPR, at home to Newcastle and then away to Liverpool. That’s a demanding set of season end fixtures. And a lot of deep breath’s for John Terry.

Damien Comolli is released from another English club although Dalglish receives full backing from the board, which is usually a worrying sign. Everton meet Liverpool for what may potentially become a very cagey affair as both clubs do not want to miss out on the opportunity to return for a final. Andy Camel may miss the starting line up following his last minute winner away to Blackburn on Tuesday, although as Tim Howard admits there will be more than enough alpha-males on the pitch –  “Phil, Sylvain Distin and John: they are the alpha males,” said the American. Some might say that Liverpool’s pretty beastly looking bunch have a few cracked mirrors to prove otherwise.

QPR continue to quietly turn things around winning three of their last five keeping their heads just above relegation waters in the process. It has been a juggling job for Hughes to introduce newcomers to the league without completely crashing the season although the healthy amount of points afforded to him by Warnock has been a huge help. Their home form early season was very poor and they only need to look next door at their neighbours Fulham to see just what a solid home record can do for club’s stability. In that regard things have improved since they came face to face with supporters at London Euston upon returning from a defeat to Bolton. Hughes number two Mark Bowen told us this week that the fans were conciliatory enough to understand the players point of view and a new found respect has been found from both sides.

More bizarre than UEFA’s complete ineptitude in addressing the issue of racist crowd abuse towards players is the level of fines given out for any form of misdemeanour. Regardless of what the offence is it becomes hard to understand the point of fining a multi million pound revenue business a paltry £25,000, or in some cases even less. The fine is there not only as a punishment but supposedly as a deterrent to stop clubs falling foul of the rules in the future. Quite how imposing fines of these amounts achieve either of those objectives remains a mystery. Balotelli carries a fifth of that around in his car for heavens sake.

Mad Mario never quite made it into this weeks review allowing The Daily Heil to find their perfect anti-football poster boy in the lad; a young rich foreigner whose dark complexion ticks all the boxes in their agenda. We can only live in hope that a News of the World type scandal will arrive soon enough for the ‘paper’ – a poor excuse for journalism.

Speaking of which, my time is done for another seven days. Good luck to those of you who dabbled on the gee-gees today and we’ll catch up again next Saturday for more of the same.