Football Round-Up: LOI Week Five, EPL Week 32)

Another draw. Limerick could hardly have been said to be at their best this weekend, but they were two goals up with less than 20 minutes to go when Dundalk clawed it back. Despite several good performances Limerick couldn’t hold the lead.

Dundalk are a good outfit, though I doubt they will have anywhere near enough legs to actually keep up with the likes of Sligo and Derry. But Kenny has given them a certain something, and fighting back in the manner that they did is evidence of that. I suppose that is just the way things go in the LOI, swings and roundabouts.

Limerick have played seven games and won once, at home to the worst team in the league, is concerning. This includes draws against a team with ten men and thrown away leads against others. Actually keeping composure and winning games is something that has to be worked on, though it should be noted that injury and suspension has played its part in the 21 points gained from the last four games. Coming up in the next few weeks are three games, against Bohs, away to Bray and then Shels, which Limerick should have the capability of getting at least seven points from, preferably nine.

The Sligo train marches on, another win, another few Elding goals. In fairness, they weren’t even going to have much trouble against floundering Shelbourne, who must be praying they have enough in them just to finish ahead of UCD. The students couldn’t do much better away to Cork, who themselves already look like struggling to break mid-table mediocrity. It’s hard to tell with St Pats just yet, what with all of their postponed games, but they’re inching back up the table after a decent win at Bray.

With Shamrock Rovers drawing again, this time at home to Drogs who seem out of form based on last season, it is to Derry that we must look to as potential challengers to Sligo. They looked electric at times over the past few weeks, and the 4-0 thrashing of Bohs, away, shows them for the team they are. They’ve had to make do with cup runs over the last few seasons, but maybe they are capable of doing more this season. God knows how they will ever manage to keep up with Sligo though, who have been near flawless in the first part of the season.

Down below, it was a low scoring weekend in the First Division, at least compared to last week. Waterford are back on track with a 1-0 win over Athlone, but hardly lighting the place on fire. Salthill and Cobh shared the spoils, you can’t really imagine them doing much for the season. Finn Harps couldn’t get any goals againt Wexford, but neither could the Youths. The big game, Longford and Mervue, also ended in a draw. This seems to indicate that the overall quality of the First Division is a bit closer than it was last year, with Mervue, Longford, Finn Harps and Cobh all looking like potential challengers.

Across the pond then, where Spurs did themselves no favours with a draw at home to Everton, allowing the cat calls of “one man team” to actually have some grounding. With some tough games coming up, you can easily imagine another end of season collapse from them. Chelsea have righted the ship somewhat after a disappointing loss at Southampton, but will be frustrated by the upsurge in form from Arsenal. Still, I’d back them to finish ahead of Spurs at any rate. Down below, it all gets so interesting. Reading, after a home defeat to Aston Villa seem fairly doomed. QPR aren’t out of the race yet, but three points against Wigan would have really helped with that cause. As it is, that last minute equaliser could prove critical, for both clubs. Sunderland, despite most of the attention being on Paulo Di Canio during the week, are slipping every downwards, and are now teetering on the edge of oblivion. I could easily see them fall under Wigan, dooming themselves and thereby saving the Latics. Villa are far from clear of danger themselves, but have shown decent enough glimpses that makes me thing they should find safety. Stoke too, though this season has been a real kick in the proverbials for them.

So, the big game United against City. I won’t pretend to be oozing with confidence heading in to this encounter, since it has that right confluence of factors going for the visitors. United have a commanding lead, engendering over-confidence and lackadaisicalness. They also haven’t been in the very best of form in the last few weeks frequently winning games only just and unable to beat a “big” team in either of two attempts against Chelsea. City meanwhile have been doing a little better. At this point, catching up to United is a distant dream. The aim must be to get a win and rattle the league leaders, and keep the title race ticking over until United have to play Chelsea and Arsenal in the last four games of the season.

If United do win, even I would be hard-pressed to stop early champagne uncorking, though four points from 21 would still have to be won.

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