The fight at the bottom of the table is hotting up, with Wigan dropping back into the relegation zone, Aston Villa climbing out and Reading beginning to look like no-hopers. The game at the top between Tottenham and Liverpool must also not be ignored, as two of the players of the year so far in Bale and Suarez went head to head.
Benteke could be the man to save Villa
Christian Benteke is proving to be one of the signings of the season for Paul Lambert, as the Belgian marksman has been a prolific scorer of recent weeks. The man who wears number 20 at Villa Park has netted seven times since New Year, trailing only behind Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale, and he looks to be Lambert’s best hope of survival.
The reason why Benteke has been so impressive is that he has shown he is not only capable of using all of his six foot three inch height to dominate centre backs, but that he can also play the ball, hold it up to wait for support and score some remarkably tidy finishes. With little support from anywhere else in the team with the goal scoring, as Weimann is Villa’s second top scorer in the league with just five, Benteke has it all to do, but if he can continue his fine form he is sure to give Paul Lambert the best fighting chance to keep his side in the top flight of English football.
The future looks bleak for Reading
With Adam le Fondre scoring a decent number of goals and with Brian McDermott now sacked, Reading look like they are in danger of falling adrift at the bottom of the table in a similar way to how Wolverhampton Wanderers did last season.
It must be said, however, that not all blame should be placed on McDermott, he did a great job when Reading were in the Championship and there are few available managers who could have done a better job.
The simple fact remains that there is simply not enough quality in the Reading ranks to survive in such a harsh league. Their squad looks particularly poor in relation to their rivals at the bottom, Wigan, Villa and QPR all look to have more strength in depth and better survival credentials. Indeed, barring any miracles the adventure in the top flight looks all but over for the Royals
The battle for player of the year between Suarez and Bale will be close
With Robin van Persie’s form evaporating for the first time in 18 months, it looks as though these two titans will be those fighting it out for the accolade of player of the year, and judging from Sunday’s clash, it will be close. Both the Uruguayan and the Welshman have scored over 10 league goals since New Year and have been carrying their teams to such an extent that you half expect them to have injured their backs by the end of the year.
It could well be perceived that Luis Suarez is the player who offers slightly more overall, with the Liverpool marksman having become a complete centre forward this year. Indeed Gareth Bale still looks to be lacking some of the qualities to play in the number eight positions in midfield instead of down the left wing. Having said this, there is no doubt that he is now far too good to be wasted down the flanks, as he offers as much if not more than any other player in the middle in the Premier League. Whoever your bet is on, the battle to become player of the year will be close.
Player and manager attitudes towards referees are disgraceful
It seems to be universally known that player discipline in football towards the match officials is far from perfect, and the reaction by Southampton’s players and their manager Mauricio Pochettino to referee Mark Clattenburg's penalty decision only highlighted problems in this field. Southampton should by no means be the centre of criticism, however, as many teams can be accused of the same treatment.
It seems that almost every game we are seeing players surrounding the referee, who is often forced to back away amidst the crowd. In my mind this is nothing short of common assault and fierce intimidation. Furthermore, the only way I can see it ending is if there are serious repercussions introduced for players who are guilty of this crime. A good idea could be bookings for any words back to the referee, by overturning decisions or marching teams back a further five or ten yards if they complain about a free-kick. This would bring football into the more disciplined world of the likes of rugby. Whatever the solution, something needs to be done about this awful intimidation of referees.
The great escape looks on for Queens Park Rangers
From a seemingly irredeemable situation, Harry Redknapp looks to be on the verge of accomplishing what he would undoubtedly be his greatest acheivment to date.
The Hoops are beginning to turn on the style with two wins back-to-back, and some of Harry’s signings are starting to come good.
Loic Remy has been impressing since day one and has now scored three in five games, whilst Andros Townsend also looked in scintillating form at Loftus Road on Saturday. Although the journey is by no means completed yet, the picture looks a lot brighter than it did under Mark Hughes, and who knows, if QPR could survive this year, perhaps some significant investments could come their way by the owners for next time out.
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