by Dylan Terry
Caught your breath yet? The phrase ‘best league in the world’ is touted around England persistently, which devalues a great weekend when one does come along.
And it indisputably was a fantastic weekend as the title challengers encountered turmoil and ultimately semi-salvation, the top four hopefuls bunched further while relegation threatened sides found unexpected hope.
Was it season defining? It could yet prove to be.
From what I’ve seen, the media’s reaction has been what it usually is after big teams fail to beat sides they should be comfortably surpassing. ‘How poor were City?’. Oh if I had a penny for every time….you get the picture. It seems Martin O’Neil’s wonderful approach to the game at the Etihad has been replaced with negativity surrounding the title-chasing Manchester club. The previous 21 league sides have come away empty handed from there. So for Martin to set his team up with the thought process of ‘lets have a go at them’, that truly is commendable which ever way you look at it. For 85 minutes in that game, it looked the perfect afternoon. I felt relief when the whistle blew that City didn’t rob all the points from Sunderland, because that’s what it would have been, a burgled win.
Torres scored a Premier League goal. Actually, er, wait….have I spelt that right? It’s been so long since I’ve typed that sentence, I’m not even sure what it looks like anymore. No,come on, lets be fair on him, it was a very good finish. A valiant win you could add to that, for Chelsea. Mind you, Aston Villa are an awful team right now. I hate stats like the one I’m about to use as they are effectively of no use. But it supports my argument in this instance so I shall proceed. If the league started on New Years Day, Villa would currently be lying in the relegation zone. That wouldn’t look half as bad if decent football was being played, but it isn’t, and they now need to be a little cautious as to making sure a late relegation fight does not appear on the cards. As for Chelsea, they plough on, doing what they have to do to try and scrape a Champions League spot. They won’t care how it’s done, as long as it is.
The game I was at finished 3-1 to Spurs. Mind you, I was impressed with Swansea. All the praise they’ve got this season was justified once more; really good stuff. A comfortable mid-table finish is commendable for Rodgers’ side. In my opinion, he deserves Manager of the Year, which is saying something. You could make a case for five or six ‘gaffers’ this term.
This meant the only side to lose ground in ‘The Fourth Place Race’ (as I am now calling it) were Arsenal. Where did that come from QPR? Taraabt might be a bit of a so and so off the field, but on it, he’s a joy to watch. His form has been inconsistent at best, but his peach may have just kept his side in the division. You never know.
Still, I hope, and believe that Wigan will claw their way to another D-day escape and finish 17th for a third season running. Martinez is very calm after big wins, but even he acknowledged that this was huge. Back-to-back victories are key at creating momentum, which is exactly what themselves and Bolton have going into the run in.
Bolton kept up their good form of late. I’m delighted for Coyle and more importantly Fabrice Muamba. In effect, they sent Wolves down on Saturday. I have sympathy for their fans and Terry Connor, who has been unfairly thrown in at the deep end. But you cannot sack your manager that gained promotion, and not have someone of experience on stand-by. I seriously feel for the WW faithful, but they are doomed now and surely heading from the ‘best league in the world’.
You can follow Dylan on Twitter @dylanspursterry