It’s a huge weekend for… Redknapp, Southampton, West Ham and Chelsea’s defence
Redknapp’s display of desperation in putting two goalkeepers on the bench against Manchester City was the most unsubtle act since Peter Odemwingie’s slight hint that he wanted to leave West Brom.
After announcing a month ago that he didn’t feel comfortable spending the owner’s money, Harry remarkably and honourably managed to act out of this comfort zone by sounding the best part of £30million on Loic Remy, Christopher Samba et al.
QPR simply have to stay up for the club to avoid some sort of financial meltdown, particularly with Tony Fernandes threatening to leave if the club are relegated. Rangers are lucky that the Premier League contains sufficient dross that 16 points from 24 games is enough to avoid being cut off at the bottom, but they are only one point closer to safety than when Redknapp took over.
Games against Norwich at home have to be won if QPR are to survive, and may have the added advantage of dragging their visitors into the relegation battle.
Saints fans will have been pleasantly surprised by their side’s performance at Old Trafford on Wednesday. It was Mauricio Pochettino’s first chance to demonstrate his abilities as a coach given that his first game in charge came just two days after his appointment.
Southampton may have lost to United, but Alex Ferguson described them as the best side to visit his side all season, and the Saints had United penned back for long periods of the second half in search of an equaliser.
Still, Pochettino will soon learnt that in a relegation battle there are no points awarded for brave effort and impressing other managers. Southampton have a three point buffer to the relegation zone, but travel to the DW Stadium on Saturday for a genuine six-pointer.
Perform as in midweek and Southampton will beat a struggling Wigan side, but lose and the new manager will have one point from three games and be causing angst as to the club’s propensity to survive the drop.
The Hammers are on a woeful run, causing some fans to question the methods of manager Sam Allardyce. A home win against Norwich is their only victory in eleven, and the club have now begun haemorrhaging goals. Conceding five to Arsenal was concerning, but letting in three at struggling city rivals Fulham hints at serious problems.
West Ham probably have enough to stay up (they sit seven points ahead of the drop zone), but for a club that had top eight aspirations two months ago, it is a severe drop in fortunes.
They host Swansea on Saturday knowing that a victory would quell the feeling of gloom amongst supporters. Lose and Sam Allardyce will hear the displeasure from the terraces.
Upon taking over at Stamford Bridge, Rafa Benitez stated that his first task was to shore things up in defence.
Unfortunately, since Boxing Day his side have kept just two clean sheets. In 2013 alone Chelsea have dropped seven league points against Swansea, Southampton and Reading. Manchester United have dropped just thirteen all season.
Their defence has been the main issue at such times, and for a Chelsea side to concede four goals in games against Brentford and Reading is an almost alien concept.
Chelsea have to show more fight at the end of games. They have now lost seven points from winning positions since Benitez took over. United and City have dropped six between them all season.