It’s a huge weekend for… Lambert, Arsenal, Appleton and Macclesfield
This is becoming something of a cause celebre now, because at some point if he stays in this column (although I accept not directly related) he will be sacked.
Could that be this weekend? Championship mid-tablers Millwall are favourites to beat Villa, which after going out to League Two Bradford over two legs is not entirely surprising. If they do, then the club must surely be considering relieving Lambert of his duties, especially with Roberto Di Matteo or Nigel Adkins standing in the wings (would either do better?).
Villa are a club on a spiralling downfall. They may be able to scrape together and survive, but with four league wins in ten-and-a-half months and a seeming lack of willing to spend significantly in January (which QPR and Newcastle have), it does look rather grim.
No club switches so quickly from panic to glory than Arsenal. Since the end of October they have scored five goals in a game on three occasions and seven goals in a game twice, and yet in this time period they have also conceded five to Reading, three to Fulham in a home draw, lost at home to Swansea, lost to Bradford City on penalties and dropped points against Aston Villa and Southampton.
After chucking five past West Ham on Wednesday (including three Podolski assists in 235 seconds), Arsenal must now travel to Newcastle’s conquerors Brighton. It could be 2-0 to Brighton, it could be 5-0 to Arsenal, it could be 7-5. For the sake of Arsenal fans, just pray that the Arsenal FC Pendulum of Mental doesn’t swing back the other way, or another defeat to a lower league team could be on the cards.
Such is the crazy world of Blackburn Rovers that Michael Appleton must already be feeling the heat. It is not his fault that he must operate under the shadow of a club in which the fans hate the owners, and therefore question every decision they make.
But Appleton did take the job, and he is under pressure. Blackburn have gained two points from three games since he took charge, and face Derby in the FA Cup on Saturday. Lose, and Appleton’s entire management record will read: P67 W15 D21 L31. It’s not exactly stirring stuff.
Two none league sides left in the FA Cup, and Macclesfield will think that they have a real chance of giving Wigan a scare. The Latics are on a run of form that threatens to see them slip into relegation mire, especially considering the spending of sides around them.
Wigan’s cup record is also horrendous. They have not been beyond this stage of the FA Cup since 1987, and in the League and FA Cup combined have lost to Bradford City, Swindon, Notts County, Crewe and Grimsby, all since 2005.
Given that Cardiff are two places below Wigan in the Football League ladder and were beaten by Macclesfield in round three, why can a repeat not occur?