Pellegrini, Manchester City face tough questions after loss to Wigan
We’re in the business end of the season now, and we had some big results this weekend in both the league and the Cup that have set us up for a fantastic run in. Chelsea, Arsenal and Wigan were all big winners, and it was special as well for Nigel Clough at Sheffield United and Steve Bruce at Hull to get their Cup wins.
And let’s start in the Cup where you have to take your hat off to Wigan. That result is why I love this tournament. You see the lineup that City puts out there, and I think everyone thinks they have to win the game - but Uwe Rosler gets the tactics right, and the Latics have a fabulous game. Emerson Boyce was simply magnificent out there today in the back, he showed character and bravery and I think it was his example that really led the side forward. This was a big one for the fans and I really think its special for Dave Whelan. He’s one of the best owners in the game, he treats his players and managers right, and so I’m delighted when I see him get a chance into Wembley.
I do think Manuel Pellegrini has a few questions to answer here as well: City didn’t come out strong at the start and if you don’t do that in this competition, you will get beat. I would have thought Manchester City might have remembered what happened last year at Wembley at Wigan’s hands, but they didn’t, and they are rightly punished for it. Martin Demichelis has now been exposed twice in big games, and you have to wonder if he can still play him. Demichelis is an experienced head but he has shown a knack for making the wrong decision, and I think it’s also clear he’s lost a step. I’ve been there, and I know age catches up with a man.
Arsenal of course now are rubbing their hands a bit: they must feel they have one hand on this trophy. They must feel they’ve done all the hard work - dealing with Liverpool, handling a tough Everton side, getting past Tottenham - and now it looks like a straight run-in to the final. I don’t know if they should get overconfident, but that was a convincing result on Saturday, and I think now you can start talking about the drought being over.
But there’s a lesson here for younger players: even the best players can suffer a crisis in confidence. You saw the difference in Mesut Ozil before and after he scored the goal. He went from being very nervous to full of faith and thatâs what made the game today. Mikel Arteta was superb and calm with his penalties and I thought that was the best we’ve seen of Santi Cazorla in quite some time.
In the league, I know Jose Mourinho’s been saying the pressure’s all on City, but let’s be honest: Chelsea look a world apart right now. That team is firing on all fronts, and Eden Hazard is playing very well at just the right time.
I think it’s more worrying for Spurs after that result, which was not a good one at all. Some of those players need to have a good look in the mirror. They’re not a top four team, and you can go and blame the manager all you want, and complain about his tactics, but some of the mistakes made were not the kind men at their level should be making. I think Tim Sherwood was dead on about that, and I think Spurs are going to struggle to crack the top.
I do have a question though: I wonder if it’s not time for the FA to take a look at sending a man off after he commits a foul in the box. That was a very dubious call in the first place, but then it’s compounded by the red card - and now Younes Kaboul is also suspended for a game which benefits the next team down the road. I think there needs to be a bit more discretion: I would have given the penalty and left eleven men on. If a man needs to be sent off in a situation like that, I don’t think there should be a suspension. People pay a lot of money to see these games, and I’m starting to think too many are being affected by cards like this.
We have to end with Fulham, who are in bad shape. Brian McBride and I were talking about this, and what that team has done, from sacking Martin Jol, then sacking Rene Meulensteen, and now bringing in a man with no Premier League experience - well, sometimes players let an owner they’ve made a mistake. That team looks totally disinterested and weak, and they are in chaos.
We’ve got four big Champions League games this week on FOX, with Arsenal and Manchester City both trying to stay in Europe, so don’t miss those from 3 PM ET Tuesday and Wednesday. I love chatting with you guys, so do take a moment to follow me on Twitter at @WarrenBarton2. And don’t forget, you can always ask questions to us at @FOXSoccer. Thanks as always for reading, and I will see you next week!