I’m going to start following more closely and writing more frequently about the frantic, insane relegation battle taking place in the Premier League.
Last weekend’s matches seemed to pose more questions than answers. I was impressed by Wolves’ workrate and intensity at Villa Park. Their 1-0 victory was a huge blow to Aston Villa and Gerard Houllier, in particular. Chuck Culpepper wrote of the loud, searing fanaticism he encountered at Villa Park in his book Bloody Confused; and, man, was it ever on frothy, full-throated display this past Saturday.
There’s so much blood in the water around Houllier that Villa brass have taken to the club message boards to soothe and reassure the supporters, while supplying the players with “show me your warface” style sermons and pep-talks. Villa’s top flight fate might be decided by upcoming April fixtures away from Villa Park against bottom-of-the-table mates West Ham and West Brom.
Wigan’s dramatic stoppage time goal put a serious dent in Birmingham City’s hopes of regaining their equilibrium in the Premier League after their dramatic and deserved victory over Arsenal in the Carling Cup final. It’s striking how that Carling Cup final has apparently cast a pall over both the winning and losing sides. On paper, Birmingham faces an uphill battle to avoid relegation, as they have daunting April away matches against Blackburn, Chelsea and Liverpool.
West Ham United continued their solid recent run of form by earning a valuable point at White Heart Lane, as they held Spurs to a nil-nil draw. Yet controversy continues to swirl around their manager, Avram Grant, for comments he made following the Hammers’ bitter FA Cup defeat to Stoke. The Hammers upcoming schedule provides challenges from the likes of Manchester United, Bolton and Chelsea.