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Arsenal, Everton getting job done
It’s not the happiest week for me, as once again, my boys were beaten in a derby, and badly at that. My old manager, Bobby Robson, once called Gus Poyet the “scourge” of Newcastle, and after this latest result, I share his feelings!
I give Poyet great credit, because he has his team playing with an intensity that I think Newcastle were lacking. And it’s worrying, because I think now our players do have to look at themselves and ask how far they really want to go this season. Alan Pardew is right that he’s going to have to go back to the drawing board, but at the same it’s easy for players to hide behind that fact that a good player, Yohan Cabaye, left the club in the window. Players are always going to come and go, it’s a fact of the game. But having the passion and the intensity in a derby game comes from within, and that’s down to the men who wear the shirt.
Sunderland were one of four big winners for me this week -- I think Everton, Arsenal and West Ham all got the job done and now we wait to see what happens on Monday between Manchester City and Chelsea.
The key at Arsenal on Sunday was the performance of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, making his first league start in six months and showing how vital he is to the Arsenal – and to England. I give credit to Tony Pulis for having his Palace play a very disciplined style that got them through the first half, but great players capitalize when your defenders switch off, and that’s exactly what the Ox did to them today.
No one picked him up as he ghosted in for the first goal, a simple chip over the back from Santi Cazorla, and you felt once that ball had gone over the keeper that it was game over. Then the young man makes certain of it with a really great bit of link-up play with Tomas Rosicky and Olivier Giroud that showed both his vision and his cool under pressure. I do think Palace will come away from this match with their heads held high, though. They showed some real grit, and they are nothing like the team we saw in the fall.
Everton showed they are going to be at the top as well: That was a superb goal by Kevin Mirallas, and it was a great recovery after the beating they took at Anfield on Tuesday. They are showing real character, and with Liverpool dropping two points as well, thanks to a foolish pass from Kolo Toure, Roberto Martinez is going to have the Toffees in the mix all the way to the end.
It was also good to see Big Sam build on their draw with Chelsea. Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll linked up really well, which is what we’ve been waiting for all season – but I do hope Carroll’s red card gets overturned. It was accidental and harsh, and I think if they look at it, they’ll come to that conclusion.
It's been tough sledding for David Moyes and Manchester United. (Photo: Matthew Peters/Getty)
The team that may now be left out of Europe is Manchester United. It’s stunning what’s happened there. We all knew Sir Alex was a great manager, but this tumble has been so dramatic and so swift that honestly, I am shocked. There is a stagnancy and a sourness there at the moment, and they need some massive changes. They’ve gone from being Manchester United to being just another club, and while I respect David Moyes, I have to be honest and say that if this was Bayern or Barcelona or Real Madrid, he would have been sacked by now.
I don’t usually comment much on the other divisions, but what happened at Leeds this weekend is so remarkable and bizarre, I have to. I have a lot of respect for Leeds and their fans, who have been left reeling by the spiral there. They sack Brian McDermott on deadline day, which is unbelievable. Ross McCormack, rightly in my view, stands up for his gaffer and the next day powers the team to a big win, showing he cares both about his manager and the club.
Then it comes out that McDermott’s not fired after all. What is going on there? I just don’t understand how or why all these successful millionaires come in and buy clubs and then run them as if they were corner shops! We’ve seen it at Cardiff, we’ve seen it at Portsmouth and now we’re seeing it here. It’s just a shame.
Monday is a very big game, and I think if City win it, they win the league, simple as that. I do think that Chelsea can get a point, and maybe even a famous Mourinho 1-0 victory though, because they are a team that can get into your head. If they do, then we have a good three-horse race. It will be tense, and it will be a great game.
I love chatting with you guys, so do take a moment to follow me on Twitter at @WarrenBarton2. It’s a lot of fun to be able to banter with you guys! And don’t forget, you can always ask questions to us at @FOXSoccer. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you again next week!
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