United, Chelsea and a striker in need of a goal
And then it got interesting. At half time on Tuesday, the title was genuinely being engraved, such was the feeling that United had it covered. But Chelsea’s comeback (and I refuse to use Andy Gray’s phrase “this wonderful league of ours”) means that suddenly the pressure is back on the red half of Manchester.
With Vidic and Ferdinand out, the task falls for Wes Brown to partner Chris Smalling, who has been as impressive as he is raw. If Andy Carroll plays a part, and initial reports suggest he may, then it will be quite the test.
Lose on Sunday and United may be second favourites for the title, almost unthinkable a week ago.
On Wednesday Aston Villa had the chance to get into the FA Cup quarter-final, and set up a home tie with Reading. Rather than go for it, Gerard Houllier chose to pick a weakened side, and Villa promptly lost 3-0. Houllier’s comments after the game didn’t exactly fan the flames:
“I understand where they are coming from but I don’t think we could have beaten Manchester City.”
Not exactly fighting talk from the manager, who has failed to appreciate that the reason Bolton away on Saturday is so important is due to his poor performance as a manager. As Daily Mail Matt Lawton on Twitter stated: “Well done Houllier, you’ve fucked it up”.
The Bolton game suddenly becomes important for Houllier.
Often, when managers take over at a club, it instigates a successful initial reaction from the players. Micky Adams’ record at Sheffield United since taking over reads: Played 12, Won 0, Drew 4, Lost 8. Not exactly inspiring.
Such is the club’s precarious position in the Championship that Adams is already under significant pressure. He takes his side to Portsmouth this Saturday. They face four of the top six in their next six games. If Adams is to see out this period, improvements are needed immediately.
Tuesday was a great night for Chelsea, this much is clear. But success is born out of consistency. The last time Chelsea last won more than two Premier League games in a row in September.
It is therefore clear that Chelsea must build on their success. A trip to Bloomfield Road provides an ideal setting for this to occur. And talking of opportunities brings us to…
Yes, his movement was better, and actually Torres did look sharper. But you spend £50million on a striker to score goals. Drogba impressed to such an extent after coming on that it will be difficult to continue dropping him.
Fernando, therefore, needs a goal. And if Blackpool away is a good place to continue a run, then it is also a fine place to start a scoring streak.