This week, Jamie Thomas looks at the defeat which cost Gus his job, the other managers in trouble, Arsenal’s resurgence and United’s knockout blow.
- Black day for Poyet
It comes as no surprise that Gus Poyet has been sacked after Aston Villa, no less, thrashed Sunderland to resign them to 17th place. With pressure mounting after he was sent to the stands in their draw with Hull, the Black Cats boss needed some sort of positive response from his men. Instead, they put the final nail in the coffin.
No disrespect to Villa, but when a team that’s only scored four away goals all season doubles that total in the first half, you know you have a problem. After some Sunderland fans were pictured being restrained from giving abuse to the Black Cats bench, it was only a matter of time before news broke of Poyet’s dismissal.
- All Guns blazing
Arsenal were dominant as they recorded a 10th straight win over West Ham, with Mesut Ozil now playing a central role and goal hero Aaron Ramsey back firing. Clearly they understand each other of the pitch: 11 of Ozil’s 54 successful passes were made to Ramsey and 13 of his 64 were to the German.
Olivier Giroud got the opener and set up Ramsey for the second goal. It’ll give the striker a confidence boost ahead of Gunners’ vital Champions League second-leg clash at Monaco after he was derided for missing six chances at the Emirates. They need everyone to be at their best as they look to overturn the 3-1 deficit, but after four wins in a row, Arsene Wenger’s men believe they can do it.
- Wrong Man for the job
Champions Manchester City suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by relegation-threatened Burnley, severely denting their hopes of retaining the title. Manuel Pellegrini’s men have only won four of their last 10 games in all competitions and now trail Chelsea by six points.
City have arguably the best squad in the league, but they’re being held back by the manager. How many more points would they have won this season if they had a boss like Jose Mourinho who found the right system for the players? Pellegrini’s flat 4-4-2 doesn’t seem to be it; and if he suffers a last-16 exit for the second year running against Barcelona, it looks likely he’ll be out by the end of the season.
- Pearson can’t take the heat
Nigel Pearson is acting like a man under extreme pressure – and that, of course, is exactly what he is, as manager of Premier League basement boys Leicester. The hot-headed gaffer could be in more trouble after appearing to call a journalist a “p****” for being asked what seemed to be a reasonable question during a press conference after their goalless draw with Hull.
Pearson has form for this. He was lucky to escape FA disciplinary action for putting his hands around James McArthur’s throat and holding on to the Crystal Palace ace’s shirt last month. And there was also that unfortunate incident with a fan . . . The Foxes boss is displaying all the signs of being rattled, which will only transfer to the team. When the heat is on, it’s not really the time to lose your cool. Just ask Paolo Di Canio!
- United pack a punch
Manchester United were dumped out of the FA Cup by Arsenal, but even in that game, there were brief signs that Louis van Gaal’s men were finding their feet. The last 20 minutes of the first half were dubbed the best football they had played since he took over at Old Trafford. That is, until their demolition of Tottenham.
United bounced back from the cup exit by netting three goals in just over half an hour – and captain Wayne Rooney sealed their place in the top four with a humorous boxing celebration after that now infamous video. LVG’s men face in-form Liverpool next at Anfield, where they could blow the Reds’ chances of Champions League football.
Read more from Jamie Thomas here.