The 3D extravaganza that was Manchester United’s demolition of Arsenal and John Terry’s away form rightly grabbed most of the weekend’s headlines but elsewhere in the Premier League the battle to stay up and the race for European places provided just as many talking points.
Everton are on a roll and even though their 1-0 victory away to Wigan was far from impressive, the important point is the Toffee’s are now unbeaten in their last nine Premier league encounters. It is no coincidence that Tim Cahill’s return to form has helped David Moyes team pick up 17 points in that period and move up to nineth in the standings.
The Aussie’s magnificent header earned his side all three points at the JJB on Saturday but his all-round contribution in recent weeks has been the catalyst for Everton’s revival.
The fact Everton’s season has re-ignited without the mercurial talent of the injured Mikel Arteta is testament to Moyes’ managerial abilities. The Merseysiders have suffered a torrid time with injuries since the beginning of the campaign but have managed to recover from a horrible eight-game run which returned a solitary victory to now move into Europa League contention.
Tottenham Hotspur are no longer top four contenders. Harry Redknapp’s side dropped two precious points following the concession of an injury-time goal to Liam Ridgewell at the weekend. Spurs failure to capitalise on seemingly winnable games against the likes Hull, Stoke and now Birmingham means they do not possess sufficient quality to secure a Champions League berth.
Manchester City, Liverpool and Aston Villa are all within a point of the North Londoners following victories over the weekend, with City in particular having the
advantage of two games in hand on their other Champions League qualification chasing rivals.
Spurs’ record against opponents in the top half of the Premier League reads as follows: 4 wins, 3 draws and 4 losses. A single victory in their last four league encounters suggests a slump in form at the worst possible time. Man City and Liverpool continue to win ugly while Spurs play pretty football with little end product.
Remember when Phil Brown’s Hull City burst onto the Premier League scene and captivated everyone with their terrific unbeaten run? Me neither. The Tigers are in freefall and a 2-2 draw at home to fellow struggler Wolves means it is now 10 games since Hull last tasted victory in the Premier League.
Anthony Gardner’s ridiculous own-goal and Stephen Hunt’s ill-advised trip over the advertising board in the same move are symptomatic of Hull’s season.
The enforced absence of Jimmy Bullard due to injury has definitely affected Hull but even the former Fulham midfielder’s return is unlikely to herald an upturn in form.
Hull City have failed to win away this season and have recorded only four wins from their 11 home Premier League fixtures to date. That is relegation form and worryingly for Phil Brown the Tigers are showing few signs of arresting their current slump.
The only faint hope for Hull is that Burnley and Portsmouth look worse off than they
do suggesting a battle with Wolves and West Ham United to beat the dreaded drop.
Ger McCarthy is the author of Off Centre Circle, which chronicles the curious life of a West Cork League junior footballer.