Jamie Thomas takes a look at the talking points in this weekend’s Premier League . . .
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1. Carver’s fight club
John Carver had a barney with Newcastle fans after allegedly swearing at them and in an exchange you normally only hear at chucking-out time, telling one “outside, outside!” After losing their seventh game on the bounce against Swansea, no wonder tempers are frayed. Despite scoring two goals, the Toon were absolutely woeful and eventually lost 3-2.
But sacking Carver at this point in the season wouldn’t do anyone any good – not when they are dangerously close to getting involved in a relegation battle with four games to go. It might not be the best way to handle fans’ frustrations but he’s not really the one to blame, is he Mike Ashley?
2. Safety first for Villa
Teams often play safer after reaching cup finals for fear of injury leading up to the big occasion. Villa showed incredible resolve to fight back at Manchester City after going 2-0 down, but they eventually lost 3-2. Although, it could have been a draw had Christian Benteke not suffered a controversial offside.
Over the next few weeks, however, Villa need to prioritise staying up – if they don’t want to do a Wigan Athletic. Tim Sherwood’s men must secure safety in the remaining games, then they’ll have a party at Wembley to top it all off!
3. Rivals are outfoxed
This season’s likely great escape story, Leicester City, managed a 1-0 win against relegation rivals Burnley on Saturday to take them out of the danger zone for the first time since November. Their recent string of positive results has breathed confidence into the team, which could prove crucial in these final matches.
Sitting one point above the safety line with four wins in a row and five left to play, Nigel Pearson’s men still have to face table-toppers Chelsea and Southampton, while Sunderland and QPR will be just as determined as the Foxes to scrape points for survival.
4. Carrick crucial to LVG
The importance of Michael Carrick in a Manchester United line-up was made crystal clear in their Everton thrashing as Daley Blind was overrun in midfield while filling in for the injured Englishman. He’s more than capable of playing in that holding role but just not by himself like at Goodison.
We saw in the World Cup how he was able to do it at times with Nigel De Jong next to him (who would be a great signing for Louis van Gaal, if they could get him) but on his own, it just doesn’t seem to work. With Carrick crocked, it’s the first time this season that United have lost consecutive league games, which just shows how he’s one of their most important players. LVG admitted he knew in the warm-up they would lose – they need him back for the run-in!
5. Bore the merrier
Jose Mourinho maintained his impressive record of zero defeats against Arsene Wenger as Chelsea’s defensive resilience earned them a point at Arsenal. Blues celebrated as they went 10 points clear at the top of the table – and they were partying later that night as Eden Hazard scooped the PFA Player of the Year gong.
But during the game referee Michael Oliver was unfortunately at the centre of controversy as he waved off not one, not two, but THREE potential penalties and fuelled the age-old case for video technology. It wasn’t the only quarrel: Wenger branded Chelsea “boring” afterwards and Mourinho hit back, “boring is 10 years without a title.” Ouch!
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