The world is watching: A huge weekend for…
So when does a blip become a rut? And when does a slight worry become a deep-rooted concern?
Stoke have now lost their last five domestic games, and these have included games that they would hope to have taken points from: QPR (h), Bolton (a), Newcastle (h, Liverpool (h) and Arsenal (a). They have also only won one of their last ten domestic games.
Whether or not teams have worked out Stoke’s gameplay, or whether they have altered their style a touch is academic really, but results are needed. Rory Delap was interviewed on Football Focus last Saturday, and he admitted that his long throws had not resulted in a single goal yet this season.
A home game against Blackburn, the Premier League’s turmoil club, should be the perfect tonic. Lose and Stoke could be in the relegation zone by Sunday evening.
Like Wenger before him and Steve Kean seemingly forever, Villas-Boas will feature in this column until things start to change. Wolves may expect a Chelsea side that will lash out after recent failures. But Liverpool and Leverkusen probably thought the same.
A defeat at White Hart Lane was expected on Monday night, and the loss should not be catastrophic. However, the manner in which Villa rolled over and allowed Spurs to have their wicked way with them was akin to surrender.
Alex McLeish seemingly lined up with six defenders, including three right-backs in order to deal with the threat of Gareth Bale. As a response, his defence allowed Bale the space in which to roam and gave Emmanuel Adebayor the freedom of North London Because McLeish was not a popular choice, it makes it very difficult for him to win over the Villa Park faithful, especially with a style of football that is less than conducive to compliments.
The only solution is victories, and defeat to a promoted club would be another nail in a coffin that seems to have been present since the Scot’s appointment.
Last season, the Derby board gave Nigel Clough a vote of confidence when after a superb start to the season the club fell away and eventually finished in 19th position, just seven points ahead of relegated Preston.
This season Derby again started impressively, and on 24th September sat third in the league, one point off top spot. Since then the worm has appeared to turn, at an even earlier stage than last season. Derby have taken six points from nine league games, and questions are again being asked.
Derby travel to Upton Park to face a West Ham team who are bang in form, and the game is live on television. Nigel Clough will be hoping his team to not throw the towel in once more, or questions will grow to serious concerns.
The only negative concerning breaking a record is that suddenly all eyes are focused on you. And it so happens that Huddersfield’s next test is away to Charlton Athletic on Monday. Charlton are top of the league, unbeaten at home (winning 7 of 8 games) and the game is live on Sky. Success breeds expectation, and expectation builds pressure.