It’s a huge weekend for…Wenger, O’Neill, Hughes and Ipswich
Arsenal actually showed some quality in the first half to lead 2-0 against Schalke. And then their Mr Hyde turned up and they were defensively vacant in conceding two. Wenger admits that the situation is ‘serious but not critical’.
But there is an air of resignation around Arsenal fans at the moment, as they begin to be thankful for past times provided under the tenure of le Prof, rather than any optimism regarding the future. One of the weirdest aspects of their defeat to Manchester United was how flat the home crowd was. It’s almost as if playing Arsenal isn’t a big game for the Old Trafford faithful, such is their assumption of victory.
Arsenal may well beat Fulham, but if they don’t, they could find themselves tenth in the league, without guarantee of Champions League group progress.
Would Wenger then deserve the knives to be truly out?
It really is a torrid run. Sunderland have one of their last seventeen Premier League games. If that’s getting close to an embarrassment, then the Mackems’ total shots on target this season takes the piss. Twelve in ten games? That’s 24 less than 19th best Stoke. Sunderland have six league goals this season, and their second top goal scorer is Demba Ba. At what point does Martin O’Neill start to be put under pressure after spending £20m in the summer? He may be 50/1 in places to be next manager to leave his Premier League job, but should Hughes or Adkins leave and Sunderland stay as uninventive as they have been, that price will plummet.
Yes, he’s still here. A draw was possibly the worst result for this column and QPR fans, because it means that Hughes got himself another stay of execution. They are on less points than the infamous Derby team of 2007/8 at the same stage of the season and yet have one of the highest wage bills in Europe. The only competitive game they have won in over six months was against Walsall in the Capital One Cup. I don’t even have the will to go on but I actually hope they lose to Stoke this weekend so that the whole sorry charade will come to a close. And Hughes will still manage to get another job in the Premier League.
Sacking your manager is understandable when you were expected to have a reasonable season and are bottom of the league, starting to be cut adrift. The new manager winning his first game in charge is excellent, but losing the second one (and the first with full preparation) 5-0 is not so good, and in truth Crystal Palace could have scored 7 or 8. The players brought in by Ipswich this summer (Scott Loach, Luke Chambers, Richie Wellens, DJ Campbell, Nigel Reo-Coker) are more than capable of impressing at this level, but it could be that the Championship’s longest-serving club could be heading for the trap door.