Hi, Paul Blake here again with another look at the past week in the crazy world of football.
In this week’s edition of Blake’s Seven, I admit to being wrong about Spurs title chances and I dispute the FA’s decision to dismiss Wolves appeal of behalf of Nenad Mijas’ for his tackle on Mikel Arteta on December 27th.
Hold on to your hats; it’s about to get controversial!
Spurs Go Marching On!
Tottenham’s 2-0 win at Norwich on Tuesday – courtesy of Gareth Bale’s double – sent them four points clear of fourth-placed Chelsea and took them to within seven points of leaders Manchester City, with a game in hand.
It seems that Spurs are genuine title contenders and proving some critics, myself included, wrong as they continue to put pressure on the top two.
Milijas Appeal Rejected
How an independent regulatory commission has dismissed Wolverhampton’s appeal is quite beyond me. It looks like another slap in the face for one of the smaller clubs in the Premier League.
Nenad Milijas’ tackle on Mikel Arteta, deemed serious foul play by referee Stuart Attwell, should only really have merited a yellow card, in my opinion. Speaking in the post-match press conference following the 1-1 draw, Mick McCarthy said: ‘If he [Atwell] sees it again then it can’t be [a red card]. Nenad’s got his foot on the ground and makes contact with the ball.
The tackle looked far worse at full speed but when slowed down it was clear that Milijas’ tackle was fair and without malice. I’ve seen far more dangerous tackles down the local parks at weekends which usually go completely unpunished.
‘We are hugely disappointed with today’s ruling,” said Wolves’ club secretary Richard Skirrow. With the benefit of hindsight and a few decent angles of the tackle, one wonders what the agenda of the FA is when they make such rulings.
Wolverhampton will now be without Milijas for 3 matches. He will begin his suspension when Wolves face fellow strugglers Bolton on Saturday.
Sir Alex Ferguson handed the Premier League to Manchester City when he fielded a weakened team against struggling Blackburn on Saturday.
One would think that a manager of Ferguson’s experience would understand how teams fight for their survival when they are down at the bottom of the league. Fielding a weakened side would have given the Blackburn players some hope in a match that they should never have any chance of winning.
While it is true that United still had more than enough quality on the pitch to beat a poor Blackburn team, their complacency was obvious for all to see.
If Sir Alex is serious about winning the title this year, then he must treat his opposition with more respect and play his best side as often as he can.
Anichebe back to sink Baggies
The return of Victor Anichebe to the Everton line-up may well provide Everton with the fire-power that they need to challenge for honours this season.
Anichebe showed strength and composure when slotting home the late winner in a dour New Year’s Day match at the Hawthorns.
Denis Stracqualursi, brought on as a second half substitute, also looked impressive up-front which bodes well for David Moyes and his Everton team for 2012.
There’s No Place like home for Henry
Thierry Henry will surprise many when he returns to Arsenal on loan from the New York Red Bulls in January.
The 34-year-old has played well in the MLS and his experience will be invaluable for the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the training ground.
Although Henry may not be the player that he once was he will still offer some guile and creativity to a side that is overly reliant on Robin Van Persie for its goals.
It will be interesting to see how Wenger intends to utilize Henry, whether on the left or as a second striker alongside Van Persie.
Swans to sink in 2012?
Despite Swansea’s good start to life in the Premier League, they will struggle to avoid relegation this season.
Their style of football, however easy on the eye it might be, is just not robust enough to remain competitive against some of the more physical sides in the division.
Brendan Rodgers has suggested that he would like to buy an attacking midfielder in the January transfer window, but he would be better off spending the money on some strong and combative players who can mix it with the likes of Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers.
Swansea are currently five points above the relegation zone and have not won in four games. They travel to Villa Park on Monday before entertaining Arsenal on 15th January.
Roberto Mancini must be cursing his luck after Sunderland inflicted defeat on his Manchester City team in the cruelest of fashion.
South Korean star Dong-won Ji, scored deep into injury time to give Sunderland a less than deserved victory in a match where the visitors had almost five times as many shots on target.
This surprise result leaves City top on goal difference and is still only their second defeat in the Barclays Premier League this season.
Sunderland may continue to ride their luck well in to the New Year and O’Neil may well describe this luck as resilience. However, he will know deep down that he cannot continue to paper over the cracks for very much longer.