Has it ever been a bigger weekend for the Arsenal manager. After his side were abject against Blackburn last weekend, they were simply outclassed by a Bayern side in midweek. It will be eight years without a trophy, but Wenger has to get his side up for the battle for fourth place: that is the only choice, and is now the bigger picture.
That starts against Aston Villa on Saturday. A Villa side who have 14 goals in 13 games and won two away games this season in all competitions. Best to make sure a home win is secured as early as possible.
Incidentally, both teams should be doing a great deal of soul-searching on Saturday, because the next day League Two Bradford City take to the field in an cup final having beaten both Arsenal and Villa on route. That’s what can be achieved with passion and commitment, and players on both sides would do well to remember so.
Reading and Wigan
The first genuine six-pointer of the season? With Reading a point from safety after Villa’s win over West Ham a fortnight ago, this is 19th v 20th in the Premier League. Whether or not QPR survive, you feel that at least one of these two sides will be relegated in May, and therefore this becomes more than massive.
Reading have taken 11 points from a possible 15 at home in recent weeks, whilst Wigan loss at Chelsea last time out was their only defeat in four away games. Good luck in trying to call this one.
It sort of crept up on me how under pressure Neil Warnock is at Leeds currently. With his refusal to commit beyond the end of the season, and actual insistence that he will resign if they are not promoted, it seems that fans were beginning to turn on him at the Etihad on Sunday.
In fairness to Warnock, once again he is at a club that is in the slow process of being taken over. In a year he has lost Bradley Johnson, Robert Snodgrass, Johnny Howson and Luciano Becchio to Norwich, and hasn’t been able to re-invest the funds significantly.
It is a case of be careful what you wish for for Leeds fans. Of course they would like to be challenging for automatic promotion, but with a paltry array of managers on the market (although Nigel Adkins may be a good option), are they asking too much?
Whilst it was rivals AC Milan who were struggling significantly at the start of the season, now it is Inter’s turn to slump. A run of three wins in ten league games means that the Nerazzurri are in fifth place in Serie A. With the loss of coefficient, this means that Inter are just one point ahead of a position whereby they would have no European football next season.
This weekend sees the second Derby della Madonnina of the season. Inter have won the last three and need that run to continue. Lose and they will suddenly see a four-point gap open up to their city rivals.
Oh, and one small other thing. Balotelli’s back. And this time it’s for Milan.