Wigan – Bayern Munich, Barcelona and… Wigan. Wigan’s victory at the Etihad this weekend puts them into the semi-finals of the FA Cup and allows them to make a boast that very few clubs across Europe are able to make: they beat Manchester City on their own turf. Despite misfiring slightly with Owen Coyle, Dave Whelan seems to have an eye for a superhuman manager. Following Roberto Martinez’s heroics in last season’s FA Cup final was going to be no mean feat, but Uwe Rosler has set about copy-and-pasting the Spaniard’s unbelievable achievement. Beating Manchester City on their own turf surely trumps beating the Citizens at Wembley in terms of difficulty. Back then, they were in a neutral venue as a Premier League club; this weekend they were on enemy soil and battling for a play-off place in the Championship. This was a truly incredible feat with neutrals and Arsenal fans alike delighted with the result.
David Meyler – Having been on the end of an Alan Pardew special last weekend, David Meyler’s name has been splashed across many a blog, newspaper and website this week. He has however, as Steve Bruce was at pains to stress this weekend, kept his head down and has focused on his football. Following this all-too-rare desire to only make the right kind of headlines with a winning goal and a mischievous accompanying celebration, David Meyler deserves respect for his conduct over the last seven days.
Chelsea – Tim Sherwood was harsh in his post-match interview after seeing his troops beaten 4-0 at Stamford Bridge this weekend. A complete collapse by the Lilywhites sent Spurs’ Champions League dreams into extremely uncertain territory in the wake of a resilient Arsenal, a buccaneering Liverpool, a stubborn Everton and a resurgent Manchester United. In so doing, Chelsea fortified their position in the upper echelons of the Premier League and assured that the pressure is on Manchester City to close the nine-point gap that has now emerged with their three games-in-hand. Jose Mourinho’s ‘little horse’ has begun an ominous gallop as the home stretch approaches.
Arsene Wenger – As soon as the final whistle went at the Etihad, tweets by the barrel load began to pile the pressure onto the Arsenal boss to lift the FA Cup, some even appearing to bypass logic completely by articulating just how angry they would be if he did indeed fail to lift the old trophy. If Arsenal lift the FA Cup, people will point to a soft cup run and if they don’t, hoards of fans wearing red shirts with white sleeves will call for Wenger’s head to be paraded down Holloway Road. Who’d be a football manager?
Gus Poyet and Sunderland – Being knocked out of two cup competitions in a week must sting. Being knocked out of two cup competitions in a week and then looking at the league table to realise a team managed by a lad on work experience, Cardiff City, are above you must really sting. They have games in hand and some players who have shown form over the last few weeks but the feel-good factor is ebbing away from the Stadium of Light and all on Wear-side will be biting their nails as their players refocus on the nitty gritty of Premier League survival.
Pepe Mel – Chairman of West Bromich Albion, Jeremy Peace, made the unpopular choice to sack Steve Clarke and replace him with the little-known Pepe Mel in early January. Despite having a name like a children’s TV character, Mel is not raising any smiles at The Hawthorns. Without a league win since his appointment and having watched his charges be dismantled by a hot-and-cold Manchester United team this weekend, West Brom’s chances of survival this season are beginning to look slim. Still, at least they didn’t sell their best striker to rival, eh? Oh, wait…