A look at the winners and losers from a rare slate of midweek games in the Premier League.
With the hammering of West Brom plus the Liverpool draw, if Manchester United beat Everton at home on Saturday they will find themselves five points clear with a game in hand before the Chelsea v Liverpool clash on Sunday. A draw on Sunday between the other two title contenders will leave United in the pole position to win a thirds consecutive Premier League crown.
The Villa are starting to win games without playing well, and that is a sign of a good team. The 1-0 win at Portsmouth combined with Arsenal’s draw at Goodison Park means that Villa now have opened up a five point gap on Arsenal for that fourth Champions League spot.
Is their a more voluble player to club than Tim Cahill? In the 35 league games he has appeared in since the start of last season, Everton have won 21 and lost just five. In the 26 he has missed, they’ve won just eight and lost 12.
It is not often that a draw puts Arsenal in the winners column, but Van Persie’s late goal against Everton means that Everton are now five points behind them instead of two. With Arsenal out of the title race, they still have a major fight on their hands to make sure that their will still be any type of European football being played at the Emirates next season.
It is all going wrong for Rafa at Anfield. First was the ill-timed attack of Fergie and then their is the contract situation, the Robbie Keane issue and a little problem of three wins in their last ten games.
Characteristics of a top manager is their ability to instill confidence and to manage under pressure. Rafa is a great cup manager, where the pressure comes and goes, but he does not appear to have the temperament to handle a season long run at the title. The league was their to be won by Liverpool this season, but Rafa appears to be having a “Kevin Keegan” moment. A loss at home to Chelsea this weekend will all but end Liverpool’s title hopes.
On December 16th, Liverpool were top of the table and 6 points clear of Man United. Now after three consecutive draws and just three wins from their past ten matches the wheels have completely came off. A loss at home to Chelsea will mean the end of the title race, and a focus on actually qualifying for Champions League next season.
The winner of just 16 of his 73 games as a manager. How long can Portsmouth afford to keep him in the job?
Hull is another team whose wheels have came off the wagon. Since beating West Brom on October 25, Hull have garnered seven points from a possible 42. That is the kind of form that gets teams relegated.