Is Arsenal's squad too thin to finish fourth in Premier League?
Premier League talking points, from a confident Man Utd to dark clouds over Anfield
THERE ARE just eight weeks to go until the end of the Premier League season and the tension is increasing at both ends of the table. Some sides are handling the pressure better than others.
Manchester City came up short in their 3-3 draw with Sunderland, and now need Manchester United to drop points if they are to stay in the race. United face a Blackburn side tonight which defeated them 3-2 at Old Trafford on New Year’s Eve.
Chelsea rediscovered their form with a good win over Aston Villa, and look buoyant for their Champions League tie against Benfica on Wednesday. Tottenham’s 3-1 victory over Swansea City, their first in six matches, saw them draw level on points with Arsenal, whose run of games without defeat ended with a 2-1 defeat at QPR.
At the bottom of the table, relegation looks likely for Wolves, now six points adrift following a 3-2 loss to Bolton Wanderers. Who will join them in the drop is still anyone's guess, with all three teams above Wolves in the table securing valuable wins. Blackburn and even Aston Villa now find themselves drawn back into the relegation dogfight.
Here’s what fans will be talking about this morning.
ARSENAL SQUAD LOOKS TOO THIN FOR RUN-IN
Arsene Wenger’s squad ended its best run of form for five seasons with a hapless loss to third-from-bottom QPR. None of the Arsenal side emerged with any credit in a slack performance, and suddenly the battle for fourth place looks a lot more difficult: Arsenal’s five-point cushion could evaporate with games against Manchester City on Sunday, and Chelsea two weeks later. Wenger’s introduction of Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh in Saturday's match may expose the real problem facing Arsenal: they have no strength in depth.
DAVE DE GEA EXEMPLIFIES IMPROVED UNITED
Manchester United are looking more assured as the season draws to its climax, and their improvement is personified by their young goalkeeper Dave De Gea. Against Blackburn Rovers earlier in the season the young goalie saw a terrible run of form, climaxing with a howling error that allowed Grant Hanley to score the wining goal for Rovers. De Gea was briefly dropped in favour of Anders Lindegaard, but has fought back and his confidence sums up the ascendant United team.
DARK CLOUDS HOVER OVER ANFIELD
Liverpool saw their goalkeeper Pepe Reina sent off, and striker Andy Carroll pulled off, in their 2-0 defeat at Newcastle United. The Reds are now in the midst of their worst run of form since the 1953-54 season. Six defeats in seven games leaves them eighth in the table, 11 points behind sixth-placed Newcastle. What's more, Reina will now miss the FA Cup semi-final against Everton, leaving Doni, who has not played one minute of football under Kenny Dalglish, as his likely replacement.
CHELSEA HIT FORM AT CRITICAL POINT
Chelsea seem to be galloping towards a successful climax to the season: their win against Aston Villa puts them just five points off fourth place. With their second-leg Champions League tie against Benfica on Wednesday, followed by Premier League ties against Fulham and Wigan and an FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham at Wembley, they will need this swagger to continue through a clogged fixture list if they are not to end the season empty handed.