With nine Premier League games being played over the weekend, we bring you the points that made headlines this gameweek.
1. The Managerial Merry-go-round keeps on spinning
Roberto Di Matteo, Mark Hughes, Nigel Adkins, Brian McDermott. Martin O’Neill joins the list of managers who got the sack after a lacklustre showing versus Manchester United. With only three points from the last 24 and scoring only six goals in the process, O’Neill was always threading the thin line. The dam finally broke this week as Sunderland owner Ellis Short pressed the eject button somewhat justifiably with O’Neill failing to get the best out of his players. What is baffling is the installment of Paolo Di Canio to the hotseat – a manager with no previous top flight experience tasked with making Sunderland stay up in the league this season. Deprived of their injured leading scorer, Steven Fletcher and captain Lee Cattermole until the end of the season, and desperately short of goals, it increasingly looks like the Wearside outfit are Championship bound, especially as they are only a point above the relegation zone. Who’s next in the Premier League sack race?
2. Race to the top-four: Chelsea slips, the Bale-force powers Tottenham on and Arsenal thrash Reading
The Blues find their resources stretched as they face a gruelling run of 7 matches in 19 days. And if “the morning shows the day” adage is considered to be irrevocably true, the dusk will definitely not paint a pretty picture for Chelsea. With the manager having to resort to making seven changes from their last match, the Blues slipped to fourth position after their third away defeat in a row. Meanwhile Gareth Bale inspired Tottenham with a sublime winner as Spurs came back strongly after 2 consecutive losses to record a hard fought 2-1 victory away at Swansea. In the process they leapfrogged Chelsea to the third spot in the table.
Arsenal will probably finish their eight consecutive trophy-less campaign but they refuse to be bogged down in their quest of a 16th consecutive outing in the premier European competition. A commanding performance from the hosts as they hammered Reading 4-1, who were playing their first match under new manager Nigel Adkins.
3. Mauricio Pochettino plots a Southampton revolution as the Latics emerge on their customary late season run
Of all the managerial changes rung in by trigger-itchy owners, there is one which stands out as an inspired choice. When the Saints’ executive chairman Nicola Cortese announced that the club had decided to replace Nigel Adkins after a rousing comeback from 2 goals down to grab a point at Stamford Bridge, the decision did seem a bit high handed. However, on evidence of what Southampton have dished out over the last few weeks, the gamble seems to have paid off. For a team who were once languishing in the 19th spot in the league table, wins against the big boys of the league (Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea) are surely commendable. The Saints find themselves in the 13th position now; the highest they have been all season.