The world is watching. A huge weekend for…
The end of the road? The Portuguese manager’s team selection on Tuesday almost seemed like the white flag of surrender. A home game against Bolton might be the perfect respite, but is there such a thing for AVB at the moment?
Chelsea have an ageing squad, a lack of pace, a lack of goals, a lack of defensive stability and a Russian owner with a lack of patience. The best they can hope for this season (barring a huge turnaround against Napoli) is fourth in the Premier League. And that is the lowest Chelsea will have finished for a decade.
AVB needs a sizeable turnaround if he is to even see March in West London.
For AVB read Arsene Wenger, although it could be argued that Arsenal’s malaise has been coming for years whilst Chelsea has been a more short-term decline.
Arsenal have fallen out of two more competitions in the last ten days. They may have taken seven points from their last three league games, but their season now hinges on a top four or bust mentality.
Just a quiet North London Derby on Sunday lunchtime then. One to whet the appetite.
The Hoops are now just out of the relegation zone on goal difference alone. They have taken just four points from the five league games since Mark Hughes took over, and his matches have been against four of the five other teams in the bottom six. The Welshman’s effect has actually been negative on QPR’s fortunes.
This weekend QPR face rivals Fulham, the club whom mark Hughes managed directly before his current employment. Incentive enough for a good performance, but lose and QPR begin to be talked of as serious relegation contenders.
AC Milan face Juventus on Saturday night in a game that may help decide the future of the Scudetto. Milan have lost just once at home (and that to Inter, a side also at home), conceding just five goals in the process. Juventus, meanwhile, are the only unbeaten team in Europe’s top five leagues. The Old lady have conceded just six goals on the road.
No less than seven players face their former club, including Andrea Pirlo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alessandro Nesta.
There is an erroneous assumption that Aston Villa fans don’t appreciate Alex McLeish as their manager because he used to manage Birmingham, summed up recently by a fan as follows: “It can’t be that reason, because I’d take Chris Hughton right now”.
The reason McLeish is disliked is because he plays dour, unattractive, defensive football which is not currently even bordering on effective. He didn’t just manage the Bluenoses, but also took them down despite spending £6million on Nikola Zigic.
After a weekend off following a dismal home defeat to Manchester City, Villa travel to relegation-haunted Wigan. If Villa lose then the calls for the Scotsman’s head will become more vehement still.
Fans of the Sabbath
Excelsior v Ajax
Inverness v Rangers
Arsenal v Spurs
Bayern Munich v Schalke
Liverpool v Cardiff
Borussia Dortmund v Hannover
Napoli v Inter Milan
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
Eight games. Seven countries represented. Four of the top four club teams in Europe. The first cup final of the season. All on our televisions. Lovely stuff.