Well this weekend has started rather nicely from our perspective. Everton’s impressive run of form came to an abrupt end at Fratton Park, losing 2-1 to Portsmouth, leaving them 4 points behind in the process.
Then the wheels truly fell off for Man Utd at Fulham when Paul Scholes was sent off for handball and gifted Fulham a penalty. Wayne Rooney was dispatched for an early bath in the final stages of the game. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking that will mean that Utd will be without Vidic, Scholes & Rooney for our visit to Old Trafford.
Due to a late kick off at White Heart Lane we had to wait an extra 30 minutes for the final whistle to close out another favourable result; Spurs beat Chelsea 1-0.
And now, at the time of writing, Newcastle are hosting Arsenal…. surely it’s too much to hope that the barcodes can also do us a favour today?? Maybe, maybe not. The Geordies would have known before kick off that results from earlier games had dropped them into the relegation zone.
So the stage is set for our trip to Anfield tomorrow, the final game of the weekend. Out current run of form is nothing short of awful. In fact, only the Baggies are worse over the last 6 games. Liverpool, by contrast, are at the other end of the form table and won’t be short of confidence after dispatching no less than Man Utd & Real Madrid with some class recently. I’m hoping that will actually lead to their downfall; complacency.
A lot of noises surrounding the club right now are suggesting that John Carew will start and will probably be the lone striker. That makes sense. Playing that way is really what got us into the top 4 after all. As they say in politics; back to basics.
While I was somewhat underwhelmed with the acquisition of Emile Heskey’s services, I could see that he was capable of doing a job for us and accepted him as decent squad member. Admittedly, Carew was coming back from injury, but Heskey starting and Carew getting a run from the bench is the opposite of my hopes and expectations. That’s exactly what’s happened for the last 6 Premiership games though and we’ve only won one of them.
It’s clearly time for Carew to lead the front line for the final games of the season, starting with Liverpool tomorrow. He’s often described by defenders as “unplayable” and that’s exactly what we need at Anfield. We also need a leader, a hero, someone to grab this game (and the remaining games) by the scruff of the neck and provide something special that makes the difference between winning and losing.
I still feel that we have the fixtures to produce more points from the last 6 or 7 games than Arsenal or Everton, so I’m looking past the next two games against Liverpool & Man Utd to a certain degree. However, state of mind will be a major factor. Losing the next two won’t be the end of the world, but losing badly might well be the end of the season (as far as CL qualification goes). If we can come out of the next two games with some confidence, if not points, everything will still be play, even if we’re a few points adrift of Arsenal.
Speaking of Arsenal, it looks like Newcastle aren’t going to help us today. There’s still 10 minutes or so to go, but it’s looking like we’ll need the 3 points tomorrow just to stay level with Arsenal. I’d love to close on a more optimistic note, but it is what it is. One thing’s for sure though; when 22 players step out on the pitch anything can happen. And as Portsmouth, Fulham and Spurs have shown today, anyone can beat anyone on their day. Hopefully it will be Villa’s day tomorrow. We’re surely due.