Football Round-Up (EPL, Week 23)

Due to prior commitments, I was unable to see the Spurs game live, so my thoughts will be brief. Using Phil Jones as an extra defender and a link to the midfield was an inspired choice to shut down the usual offensive threat that the likes of Bale represent, and made use of so well in the first game at Old Trafford. Jones excels in that role I think.

Carrick seems, from what I saw, to have done an excellent job at holding the midfield together and has been in some of his best form over the last few weeks. Van Persie took his goal well when it came and his ability o score with any part of his body is clear. That United could not hold on to the lead for the full game time is regrettable, even more for De Gea, who spoiled a performance full of decent saves with a mistimed punch clearance in the lead-up to the Spurs equaliser. A point away to Spurs is no awful result, but a cut lead at the top is a cut lead at the top. Hopefully Spurs can go on to to do at least the same to Man City.

Next up, FA Cup time at home to Fulham before entertaining Southampton. Been some hard fixtures over the last few weeks, so this sort of break is important before bigger games like Everton on the 10th of February.

Elsewhere, Man City glided to an easy enough win, Arsenal further demonstrated their inability to keep up away to Chelsea and Liverpool thrashed a poor Norwich side (though they’ll have to start beating teams higher than they are if they actually want to get back into European places). Chelsea will still be confident of effecting a challenge for the top and have got that consistent string of results.

At the other end of the table, QPR couldn’t finish the job against West Ham while Aston Villa couldn’t do the same at West Brom. All good news for Newcastle, languishing dangerously close to the red zone, after a poor display in a 2-1 home loss to Reading. Only six points separate 19th from 14th, so it’s tight at the bottom with 15 games to play. As it stands, I’d wouldn’t be surprised if it was QPR, Villa and the Magpies to go down. That Newcastle have found themselves in such a position, after several years of relative success in regaining promotion and challenging for Europe, is jaw-dropping. You don’t expect Newcastle to be that kind of team.

On the international front, AFCON has started, only with a whimper, with four games needing to be played before a win. South Africa, Cape Verde, Angola and Morocco made a hard slog out of two 0-0 draws to start the tournament and the Group B games weren’t that better. Things can only improve I suppose.

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