Kieran Davies looks ahead to another week of confidence-breeding, going toe to toe, and panning for gold.
Lightening almost struck twice at Anfield on Saturday afternoon. Crystal Palace would make a terrible actor as they just don’t seem to read the script when playing the big boys. It must frustrate their fans immensely to see what they are capable of against better opposition, yet seemingly unable to replicate it when playing the lesser teams. Klopp’s players came off that pitch at the final whistle relieved to have won all three points. Hodgson’s impressive record as a visiting manager to Anfield has been dented, but Liverpool know they had a game. On the flip side, results like that may be what Jurgen Klopp reflects on as pivotal in their winning the title.
Manchester City are doing all they can to put as much pressure as possible on Liverpool. They are winning their games convincingly and looking good in the process. Pep knows they can no longer win the league, all they can do is stay hot on the heels of Klopp’s team. The points difference meaning Liverpool have to drop points to allow City back in. Their need to keep winning, both teams in fact, could lead to one of the most entertaining title races we have seen. Tottenham managed to put their troubles behind them claiming all three points at Craven Cottage, leaving it very late to seal victory. Like Liverpool’s win at Palace, this is something Tottenham could use as a springboard to keep their season going, in terms of the Premier League. League form tends to breed confidence and will help them on their European adventures.
Wolves and Leicester played out an absolute classic with the home side winning the game late in in a seven-goal thriller. To the neutral or the fans of the teams, this kind of match is why we love the game so much. West Ham’s recent good form eluded them at Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth. With The Cherries showing the form of relegation fodder, these points are crucial in kick-starting their season and keeping them away from the bottom three. With Callum Wilson getting the ball rolling, Howe will be desperate to keep hold of his form striker in this transfer window. Solskjaer’s dream start as United manager continued with what seemed at first was going to be a comfortable win against Brighton. The away side pulled a goal back that led to Ole’s team hanging on somewhat until the final whistle as Hughton’s team tried to salvage an unlikely equaliser. The win leaves them three points behind Chelsea, well and truly back in the race for Champions League qualification.
Arsenal got themselves in contention to challenge to finish in the top four, beating rivals Chelsea at The Emirates. Knowing defeat would leave a nine-point gap between the two, The Gunners gave the home fans something to relatively positive to whinge about on Arsenal.tv this week. In a pivotal battle at the bottom of the table, Rafa Benitez will have slept a little bit easier Saturday night. Their 3-0 victory over Warnock’s Cardiff team took them out of the bottom three and gave them a two-point cushion over their opponents who replaced them. Still unsure as to whether he will be able to strengthen in January, games like this are so important to Newcastle. It doesn’t matter how they do it in these games or even if they deserve the win, as they do it will be the difference between playing Premier League fixtures next season or Championship ones. Huddersfield and Fulham are going to find it hard to claw back to the pack above them. Nobody is too good to go down and points are like gold dust right now for them. If can go wrong, it will, it’s a difficult mindset to get out of.
Southampton beat Everton to continue their fight to remain in the Premier League. With favourable results elsewhere, they managed to pull away from the relegation places. Many question changing the manager halfway through the season but in this instance, it is definitely working and if they continue their good form, they could find themselves in the top half of the table before they know it. While Burnley would have hoped Watford could have had an off day so they could stand any chance of grabbing all three points, a draw was well earned against in-form Watford. In the wake of the busy fixture schedule of late, having three points between them and Cardiff will be seen as progress. The FA Cup this weekend will ask a few questions of the big teams. How much do you want to win this trophy? How many first team players are you willing to risk knowing some of your rivals don’t play this weekend? Hopefully, they will all field first teams because I know as a neutral, I love good old cup tie. Two teams going for it, toe to toe, end-to-end football with no worry for defending. I hope this competition never loses its place as a mainstream of British football and long may it continue.