Soccer Magazine

Barclays Premier League: Five Things (not About Non-existent Pre-match Handshakes) You Need to Know

By Periscope @periscopepost
Barclays Premier League: Five things (not about non-existent pre-match handshakes) you need to know

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie. Photo credit: Ronnie Macdonald

Liverpool striker Luis Suárez’s refusal to shake Manchester United captain Patrice Evra’s hand in the pre-match handshake before Saturday’s bad-tempered Premier League fixture has dominated the football pages. But the highly controversial Missing Handshake affair has threatened to overshadow some crucially important developments in the latest round of Barclays Premier League fixtures. Like the fact that Manchester United actually won that game 2-1 to increase the pressure on title rivals and damage Liverpool’s changes of automatic Champion’s League qualification. Here are five things you might have missed because you were busy re-watching footage of the handshake that never happened.

Manchester City show bottle. Manchester United’s victory over Liverpool meant Manchester City had to win away at Aston Villa on February 12 to regain their top spot. And Roberto Mancini’s team responded admirably; they ground out a gritty 1-nil win at Villa Park. Whether the Citizens can retain their slim 2-point lead over their bitter Manchester rivals remains to be seen, but the club have been possibly boosted by the news that striker Carlos Tevez is prepared to return to the fold for the run-in.  Although he complained to Argentine broadcaster Fox Sports that Mancini has treated him “like a dog,” he is due back in Manchester for fitness tests and Mancini has indicated he could be involved in the first team before the season’s out.

I am ready to return, to win and do the best for the club,” said Carlos Tevez, who has been in Argentina without City’s permission since November 7, 2011.

Wenger not so stupid, after all? Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been heavily criticised by fans of the north London club this season but his team pulled of an impressive last-gasp 2-1 win away at in-form Sunderland to rise to fourth place in the table. Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s late winner delighted the traveling fans and gave the Gunners a much-needed boost as they prepare for five games which will possibly define their season – Tottenham and home and Liverpool away in the league, home and away to AC Milan in the Champion’s League last-16 round, and away to Sunderland (again) in the FA Cup.

Arsenal are fourth in the league, and still in the FA Cup and Champion’s League. Will they win any trophies this year?

Chelsea players mutinying? Chelsea’s listless 2-0 loss at Everton saw the west London club slip out of the top four and piled the pressure on young Portuguese manager Andre Villas-Boas. The Guardian reported that Villas-Boas “sparked a blazing row with some of his senior Chelsea players on Sunday after calling the squad in on their day off to vent his anger over the 2-0 defeat at Everton. The manager tore into his players, who had pockmarked their display with sloppy errors, but he found that some of them gave back as good as they got. In the blow-up, they told him exactly what they thought of him and his tactics, to lay bare the tensions at the club.” The newspaper said Villas-Boas remains safe in the job for the time being, but reminded that “It is never prudent, though, to second-guess (owner Roman) Abramovich, who has sacked five managers during his eight-and-a-half-year stewardship of the club. He dismissed Luiz Felipe Scolari in February 2009 when the club’s membership of the Premier League’s top four was in jeopardy. Villas-Boas is acutely aware of the need to qualify for next season’s Champions League.”

Has Villas-Boas lost the dressing room? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts?

West Bromwich Albion wound Wolverhampton Wanderers. West Brom went into the weekend uncomfortably close to the relegation zone but the Baggies’ 5-1 thumping of bitter Black Country rivals Wolves eased their relegation fears and deepened the gloom at Molineux. The result moved WBA eight points clear of danger and plunged Wolves into third-bottom place. Wolves’ home defeat was so humiliating that mananger Mick McCarthy apologised to fans. He said that “the saddest part is that we capitulated, which I have never seen my team do … I have never apologised for a performance but would do for that.” However, the apology was not enough to placate club Chairman Steve Morgan, who sacked McCarthy. Wolves have now not kept a clean sheet since August and look likely to be relegated unless Morgan can convince a top, top manager to come in to stop the rot.

Can Wolves dig their way out of trouble? Or, after losing 5-1 at home to West Brom, are the doomed for the drop?

Queens Park Rangers’ self-inflicted wounds. Wolves were not the only relegation-haunted outfit to endure a crushing defeat in a relegation dogfight. Mark Hughes’ Queens Park Rangers traveled to Blackburn Rovers with high hopes of securing an away win and pulling away from trouble. But a gutless first half saw QPR three-nil down by halftime and chasing the game. The superhoops did rally in the second half to bring it back to 3-2 but still left Ewood Park empty-handed and just a point above the dreaded relegation zone. The manner of the defeat troubled owner Tony Fernandes, who took to Twitter to express his frustration: “Playing squash after a long long time. Take out my frustration over the worse 45 mins I have seen since I became chairman of QPR. Time to play (co-owner) @Amit_Bhatia99. Wonder whose face we would put on the ball for maximum effect.” The angry tweet signaled a change of tack from Fernandes, who had previously been relentlessly optimistic and positive about QPR’s hopes of survival.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog