Posts Tagged ‘premier league’

The Football Management Merry-Go-Round!

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

The new Premier League season is only in its second week but before it had even started, we had the first managerial casualty of the season. Tony Pulis left Crystal Palace by mutual consent 48 hours before the new season started. Since taking over in November with the club bottom of the table, Pulis turned the clubs fortunes around and managed an impressive 11th place finish. However, after disagreements over the summer with chairman Steve Parish over potential new players, and wanting more control over who the club signed, the two parties agreed to terminate his contract leaving the club with no manager going into the new campaign.

With the talk at the start of every season about who will be the first manager to go, it got us thinking here at Pendle, about the amount of managers that clubs go through these days and what does it take to succeed as a Premier League manager in the current era?

During the course of last season no fewer than ten managers lost their job during the season with another two leaving at the end of the season. They say that being a manager these days is all about getting results, and it’s true it is a results business, but is sacking a manager every season because it hasn’t quite gone your way the right thing to do?

For some clubs it works, like discussed before Crystal Palace made the right move in sacking Ian Holloway and Employing Tony Pulis, but it doesn’t always work like that, both Fulham and Cardiff suffered from sacking their managers last season. Fulham went through three managers last season sacking Martin Jol with the club in 18th place in December, he was replaced by Rene Meulensteen, which proved to be a bad move as the club were rooted to the bottom of the table when he was replaced in February, Felix Magath came in for the end of the season and with only 3 wins from 16 games it’s no surprise that the club went down, but would they have stayed up if they had have kept Jol in charge to the end of the season?

Norwich suffered a similar fate last season, sacking their manager during the season and getting relegated, but unlike Fulham and Cardiff, Norwich sacked their manager in April with only a month of the season to go, was that the right move to make? Should they have stuck with the manager at least until the end of the season, or should they have sacked him earlier on to give a new manager more of a chance to keep the club in the top flight?

At the other end of the table, manager stability is vital to mounting a challenge for the top four or the championship. Most of the clubs in last season’s top 7 seem to change their manager almost as much as they change kits, since the Premiership started in 1992 there has been 15 different managers at Man City, 8 at Liverpool, 9 at Everton, and 17 at Tottenham and Chelsea. But only a few of those managers have had success, 3 titles for Chelsea with two different manager and 2 titles for Man City again with 2 different managers shows that sacking a manager after one poor season doesn’t work.

But how do you judge success? In a division of twenty teams there are still only four places for the Champions League, so is fifth place and below a failure? Surely there must be teams for whom mid-table is success enough, or narrowly avoiding relegation is their prime objective, but then Stoke sacked Pulis after finishing 13th in 2012-13, and big Sam is under a lot of pressure at West Ham after what many would consider was a good season.

Does the problem lie with the clubs’ boards expecting too much from their team in a division that was so competitive last season that there was only 14 point separating 9 places, or is it the fans who have unreasonable expectations, or both? What do you think?

Let us know what you think? Is stability better than change? Let us know if you have any stories of managers being in charge at your club for long periods of time.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 3

Posted on: August 11th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to part 3 of the Pendle Sportswear Premier League preview blog. In this post we will be looking at the prospects for Liverpool, Man City, Man United & Newcastle. Let us know what you think by commenting on twitter and facebook

 liverpoolLiverpool

Players In – Emre Can (£10 mill), Adam Lallana (£25 mill), Rickie Lambert (£4 mill), Lazar Markovic (£20 mill), Dejan Lovren (£20 mill), Divock Origi (£10 mill), Javier Manquillo (loan)

Players Out – Luis Alberto (loan), Iago Aspas (loan), Luis Suarez (undisclosed), Andre Wisdom (loan)

Liverpool’s expectations going into last season were to try and break back into the top four, no one would’ve predicted the season they’d have. Finishing second in the league and fighting all the way to the final day. The big question is can they repeat that feat or even beat it?

Selling Luis Suarez looked inevitable after Barcelona came knocking. After the biting incident involving Giorgio Chiellini, some thought the transfer would be dead in the water, but Barcelona overlooked the extensive ban he received and still proceeded with the transfer. Who can blame them, despite the controversy, Suarez is one of the best finishers in the game. A fee of around £75 million is rumoured to be what was paid.

What will losing a player of that class mean for Liverpool? Spurs found it tough last season when they sold Gareth Bale and  Liverpool could be in the same boat. Signing Rickie Lambert seems a decent enough deal, they needed a new striker with or without Suarez, but they may still need more backup in that area otherwise Daniel Sturridge will have a lot of responsibility placed on him. Adam Lallana has been brought in for a hefty £25 million, he will add to their squad but he won’t make up for the loss of Suarez, equally Lazar Markovic and Emre Can for a combined £30 million help to increase the options that Rodgers will have to choose from, it will be interesting to see how they adapt and perform in the Premier League.

The signing of Dejan Lovren seems astute, he was one of a host of good players in the Southampton side last season and it’s no surprise that he has moved on to a bigger club.

The worry for Liverpool is that they will do what Spurs did last season and drop down the league after selling their best player, and unless they sign another world class striker that is likely to happen. Like Tottenham last season Liverpool have spent a lot of money on new players and so far have brought in 6 new signings for nearly £90 million, and if they keep this up they will end up being this season’s Spurs. Critics remain unconvinced they have brought in players that will improve on last season, they have however increased the options available in their squad as they will have more games this season due to European commitments, something they didn’t have to worry about last season.

Pendle Prediction – 5th Place.

  man cityManchester City

Players In – Willy Caballero (£6 mill), Fernando (£12 mill), Bacary Sagna (free), Bruno Zuculini (£1.5 mill).

Players Out – Gareth Barry (free), Joleon Lescott (free), Costel Pantilimon (free), Jack Rodwell (£10 mill)

Last season Man City were pushed all the way to the final day by Liverpool and most of the way by Chelsea, but came out on top and won their second Premier League title. Most of the talk over the summer was about whether Yaya Toure was going to stay around or leave, and after a couple of weeks of questions it seems he is now set to stay at the club, which will come as some relief to Man City fans as he is one of the clubs biggest and best players.

The signings of Fernando from Porto, Willy Caballero from Malaga and Bacary Sagna from Arsenal will all add to the size of the squad and mean that they will be able to look at fighting on all fronts this season and maybe challenge more for the Champions League. Eliaquim Mangala is also set to sign from Porto for £32 million and if that one goes through, I can’t see many teams beating them this season. Steven Jovetic will be hopeful he has overcome his injury plagued first season and add to the already impressive attacking line that Man city have. Gareth Barry, Joleon Lescott and Costel Pantilimon have all moved on after becoming surplus to requirements at the club, but that is unlikely to be the last of the players leaving, with the signing on Sagna and the potential signing of Mangala it’s looking likely that Micah Richards will be leaving the club with a host of Premiership clubs interested in the English defender, and with the signing of Fernando, surely Javi Garcia days are numbered at the Premier League Champions.

With the signings that Manuel Pellegrini has already made and the signing of Mangala looking imminent,  City are unlikely to be doing much more in the transfer window this summer, the only place I think they may still look at is another centre back, but that would only be to replace Martin Demichelis if they choose to do so.

The current squad look strong enough to win back to back titles and really be a force in all competitions this season.

Pendle Prediction – 1st Place.

  man utdManchester United

Players In – Ander Herrera (£29 mill), Luke Shaw (£27 mill), Vanja Milinkovic (undisclosed)

Players Out – Ryan Giggs (retired), Jack Barmby (free), Bebe (£2.4 mill), Alexander Buttner (£5.6 mill), Patrice Evra (£1.2 mill), Rio Ferdinand (released), Federico Macheda (free), Nemanja Vidic (free).

After the worst season in the clubs Premiership history, Man Utd have employed Louis Van Gaal as their new manager. Van Gaal has been tasked with getting the club back to the top of the table where they were when Sir Alex Ferguson retired after the disappointing season they had under the leadership of David Moyes. He joins the club with a wealth of experience, 3 league titles with Ajax, 2 with Barcelona and a Champions League win, and a single title at both AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich, Van Gaal also guided the Netherlands to third place in this year’s FIFA World Cup. A lot will be expected of Van Gaal this season but the bonus for him is things couldn’t possibly get any worse than last season.

Ryan Giggs has retired after 24 seasons at the club but has stayed on as Van Gaal’s assistant manager, he could prove to be important in the dressing room this season.

There have been a few other big name departures from the club this summer, Rio Ferdinand has been released and subsequently joined QPR, Nemanja Vidic has joined Inter Milan on a free, while Patrice Evra as gone to Juventus for £1.2 million. Alexander Buttner has also left the club this summer and has been replaced by the young England star Luke Shaw, a lot will be expected of him coming to the club for such a big price, and the signing of Ander Herrera for nearly £30 million is a big statement of what Man Utd want to do this season.

The loss of both experienced centre backs will be a worry for United fans as at the moment they have Phil Jones, Chris Smalling or Johnny Evans as their only options at the back.

One of the things that was lacking from the United team under Moyes was the must win attitude that Ferguson pumped into his teams, as well as the fear factor of visiting Old Trafford which they didn’t seem to have under Moyes, but with Van Gaal in charge that is likely to return and United will once again be a major force in the Premier League.

Going forward United have a lot of fire power, and with the addition of Ander Herrera they should  be strong. At the back they seem to be lacking, they are yet to replace Vidic or Ferdinand and they are going to need to sort that out before the start of the season, They have already missed out on former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen but Daley Blind, who played for Van Gaal in the World Cup, is another target.

If they can find a suitable addition to their defensive ranks they will surely be in the top four.

Pendle Prediction – 4th Place.

 

 newcastle Newcastle United

Players In – Remy Caballa (undisclosed), Jack Colback (free), Siem De Jong (undisclosed), Daryl Janmaat (undisclosed), Ayoze Perez (undisclosed), Emmanuel Riviere (£5 mill), Facundo Ferreyra (loan), Karl Darlow (undisclosed), Jamaal Lascelles (undisclosed).

Players Out – Shola Ameobi (released), Dan Gosling (undisclosed), Mathieu Debuchy (£12 mill), Sylvain Marveaux (loan), Conor Newton (undisclosed), James Tavernier (undisclosed).

Newcastle endured a mixed season last season, losing their opening game 4-0 to Man City was not the way anyone wants to start but turned it around and finished the first half of the season in 8th place with a chance of European qualification. However, 13 loses in 19 games in the second half of the season saw them drop to 10th and they were lucky not to finish lower.

Newcastle have once again this year made a few signings in the hope that they can move up the table, Remy Caballa looks a good signing for them he is sure to add to the forward line and score some much needed goals, Jack Colback from bitter rivals Sunderland should also prove an astute piece of business, he is a solid central midfielder that will help the club when Cheick Tiote gets his usual suspensions throughout the season.

Daryl Janmaat has been brought in to replace Mathieu Debuchy who joined Arsenal this summer, the Dutch right back played in all five of Holland’s games in the World Cup.

Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere have also been added to the strike force which has been lacking in recent years, and with top scorer Loic Remy returning to QPR this summer they needed someone to replace his goals. There are still players in the squad that Newcastle will want to get off their wage bill, I think the days are numbered for players like Jonas Gutierrez, Gabriel Obertan, even Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa could all be show the door this summer after not performing last season.

This season could be a difficult one for Newcastle if their new signings fail once again, but a mid-table finish is likely to be what they will get. The new signings that have been brought in are good quality additions but they may need to reduce the amount of players on their books to make sure no unrest in the dressing room developments which is always a possibility with so many players not playing week in week out.

Pendle Prediction – 8th Place.

Pendle Premier League Preview 2014/15 – Part 1

Posted on: August 4th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Welcome to the Pendle Sportswear Premier League Preview Blog . Over the next two weeks we will be looking at the comings and goings over the summer and assessing the prospects for each of the 20 Premier League clubs. Have Your Say – Let us know what you think will happen in the upcoming season and whether you agree with our predictions!

arsenalArsenal

Players In – Mathieu Debuchy (£12 mill), Alexis Sanchez (£30 mill), David Ospina (£3.2 mill), Calum Chambers (£12 mill)

Players Out – Carlos Vela (£12 mill), Bacary Sagna (free), Park Chu Young (released), Lukasz Fabianski (0), Nicklas Bentner (released), Johan Djourou (£2.5 mill)

For the past few years Arsenal have become known for buying youngsters and not really spending money on established players in the transfer windows, but for the second season in succession Wenger has spent big on one star player. Alexis Sanchez joins Arsenal from Barcelona for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £30 million, and Wenger will be hoping that he will be the player to bring success back to Arsenal. Winning the FA cup last season may have brought an end to the trophy drought at the Emirates but another 4th place finish isn’t what the fans were hoping for at the start of the season and they will certainly be expecting more next season.

With Bacary Sagna leaving to join Premier League champions Manchester City and back up keeper Fabianski leaving to join Swansea, Matheiu Debuchy and David Ospina have been brought in to fill the gaps. With a couple of seasons of premiership experience under his belt, Debuchy should prove to be a good bit of business by Wenger and after some impressive displays in the World Cup for Colombia, Ospina could take the number one spot from Szczesny if his impressive performances continue.

Arsenal’s season very much depends on two things, firstly if they can keep their players fit, Aaron Ramsey was a big loss for them in the latter parts of last season,  they will surely be in the top four.  Secondly, Wenger will need  Alexis Sanchez to adapt to Premiership life quickly, Mesut Ozil started well but didn’t really live up to his £42 million price tag, so if Sanchez does the same for Arsenal they might have to settle for 4th or lower this season, but if he can hit the ground running they may be challenging for the title.

Pendle Prediction – 3rd Place.

 

     astonvillaAston Villa

Players In – Joe Cole (free), Kieran Richardson (undisclosed), Philippe Senderos (free).

Players Out – Albrighton (free), Jordan Bowery (undisclosed), Nathan Delfouneso (released), Nicklas Helenius (loan), Yacouba Sylia (loan).

Aston Villa suffered a dreadful season last season and relegation to the Championship looked a possibility, finishing 15th wasn’t what the fans would’ve hoped for at the beginning of the season. This season may well prove to be much the same for Villa fans as the current crop of players look unlikely to improve on last season.

With Christian Benteke still out injured and likely to miss a big part of the opening half of the Premiership, it seems unlikely Agbonlahor, Weimann or Darren Bent will get the goals needed for Villa in his absence.

The signing of Joe Cole seems questionable, yes he is a good midfielder, yes he has played for England and various Premiership teams and yes he has a lot of experience, but at 32 years of age, surely they would’ve been better off keeping Marc Albrighton. He is younger, he has got more to offer going forward and will demand a lot less in wages than Cole will.

Kieran Richardson is a good signing, despite going down with Fulham last season, he was one of their better players, I think his experience will be vital for Villa to battle against relegation this season, and equally the signing of Senderos is the same.

For Villa to get back to the top half of the table, they are going to have to invest more  money and improve their whole squad. They have a handful of decent Premier League players but not enough to get them back up the table.

Holding on to Ron Vlaar could prove vital to their fortunes, if Villa were to lose him and weren’t able to replace him with someone with equal experience and quality they could be playing Championship football very soon.

Getting Christian Benteke back fit and scoring goals, will also be vital to their fortunes.

Pendle Prediction – 16th Place.

 

  burnley Burnley

Players In – Michael Kightly (undisclosed), Matt Gilks (free), Marvin Sordell (undisclosed), Matthew Taylor (free), Steven Reid (free), Lukas Jutkeiwicz (undisclosed).

Players Out – Joseph Mills (free), David Edgar (free), Junior Stanislas (free), Chris Baird (free).

Last season’s Championship runners up are returning to the Premiership for only their second season, and things could prove to be equally difficult second time around for the Clarets.

They will be looking to make Turf Moor a stronghold, possibly pulling off the odd surprise result at Turf Moor as was the case  in their first season in the Premiership when they beat Man Utd, Everton and Spurs and earned a point against Arsenal. It could be away from home where Burnley will struggle to earn many points.

The signings they have made this summer so far have been good additions to their squad but  on the whole the squad seems just a little too weak to compete in the top flight. It will be interesting to see how Sam Vokes and Danny Ings manage in the Premiership after scoring 20 and 21 goals respectively in the Championship last season – Burnley will certainly need these two to be on top form as they fight to stay in the division.

Burnley fans will be expecting a tough season and will just be enjoying life in the Premiership again. However,  if they can add a few more experienced Premier League players they may just stand a chance of surviving maybe they should dip further into the free transfer market to see who is available, or maybe look to some of the bigger teams for some loan deals. It seems unlikely that there will be three teams that finish below them at the end of the season.

Pendle Prediction – 20th Place.

  chelseaChelsea

Players In – Diego Costa (£32 mill), Cesc Fabregas (£30 mill), Filipe Luis (£15 mill), Didier Drogba (free).

Players Out – Demba Ba (£4.7 mill), Ashley Cole (released), Samuel Eto’o (released), Frank Lampard (released), David Luiz (£40-50 mill), Romelu Lukaku (£28 mill)

Chelsea have already made a statement of their intent for the new season, spending nearly £80 million on three new signings and bringing club legend Didier Drogba back to the club, Jose Mourinho is targeting a third Premier League title with Chelsea. After a poor season for Chelsea’s strikers, less than 20 goals between the three of Eto’o, Torres and Ba, Jose can’t rely on goals from midfield again this season and with the signing of Diego Costa, he will be hoping to sort that out. The former Atletico Madrid striker pipped Lionel Messi to second place in the top scorer stats in La Liga with 28 goals, could he finally be Chelsea’s main man and score the goals to secure a third title for Mourinho?

Signing Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona will fill the void left by Frank Lampard who leaves the club this summer after 13 years at the Bridge, and Filipe Luis, who also joins from Atletico Madrid will replace Ashley Cole who has swapped London for Rome.

Didier Drogba Returns to the London club after only 2 seasons away, in his last game for the club he scored the decisive penalty to secure a first Champions League Title for the blues and securing his place amongst the fans as the clubs greatest ever player. The big question is will the 36 year old play that often or is he going to be used to help Costa adapt to the English game?

Everyone will be expecting Chelsea to be fighting for the Title this season  but whether they win it or not is likely to depend on how quickly Costa adapts to the way Chelsea play and the English game. With Demba Ba, Eto’o and Lukaku all leaving this summer and talks of Torres potentially moving away from the club as well, they could be very light on strikers for the coming season so if Costa ends up being a first season flop like Soldado proved to be at  Spurs last season they will struggle to win the title this time around.

Selling David Luiz seems to be great business by Chelsea, quite what the Paris Saint Germain scouts saw in Luiz to make them pay £40 million (or £50 million depending on which report you read) for the player seems unclear but it is no surprise that Chelsea cashed in, they will surely be looking at adding another centre back to play alongside Cahill in the heart of the defence.

Another question for Mourinho will be who to play in goal this season? Petr Cech is currently the first choice and few keepers could challenge his position but with the returning Thibaut Courtois, will they look at replacing Cech with one of the best young keepers in the game, or will they continue with the ever solid Cech for another season, whoever they choose they will have a very good backup on the bench.

Pendle Prediction – 2nd Place.

 

Have Liverpool Blown Their Big Chance?

Posted on: May 8th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

Only one week remains in the Premier League this season and Manchester City have taken the advantage of their rivals mistakes and now have one hand on the trophy.

Another exciting set of games last weekend saw Liverpool lose ground at the top and Chelsea’s hopes of the title disappear completely.

The late kick off on Saturday afternoon saw Man City travel to Goodison Park with the hosts still hoping for a place in the Champions League, and it was the Toffees who went ahead after only 11 minutes with a sublime strike from England hopeful Ross Barkley.

However, City weren’t going to give up the title race that easily and equalised only 10 minutes later thanks to Sergio Aguero. City then went 2-1 up before the break to put them top of the league as things stood and only 3 minutes after the break City made it 3-1 putting them in a great position to close the game out and take a firm stranglehold in the race for the title.

A goal from Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku gave Everton hope but the points were City’s and they knew that the pressure was now on Liverpool and Chelsea to stay in the race.

Chelsea hosted Norwich at Stamford Bridge knowing that a win would put them top of the league and make the final weekend a three horse race for the title but, in a familiar story for the Blues this season, couldn’t seem to break down the Norwich defence. 71% possession and 23 shots on goal, but only 4 on target highlighted exactly where Chelsea have let the title slip this season. The game finished 0-0 and effectively ended Chelsea’s title hopes, all they could do was hope that Liverpool would slip up again on Monday night and Man City would fail to win either of their remaining two games.

In the final game of the weekend Liverpool travelled to in form Crystal Palace, knowing that a win would end Chelsea’s hopes and would put them back on top.

In a hard fought first half Joe Allen found space in the box to head in from a corner, although replays show that there were clear fouls on Joe Ledley, the player marking Allen, but the goal was given and Liverpool went into half time 1-0 up.

In the second half Liverpool quickly came out of the blocks and within 10 minutes of the restart they had scored 2 more goals to put them 3-0 up and odds on to go back to the top of the table.

Tony Pulis’ side grabbed what looked to be just a consolation goal 10 minutes from time, and when substitute Dwight Gayle scored a second 2 minutes later hopes of an unlikely comeback were high.

With only 2 minutes left Dwight Gayle popped up in space at the edge of the Liverpool box to equalise leaving Liverpool players in tears at the final whistle, fearing they had thrown away their biggest chance of winning the Premier League.

Two days later Man City played their game in hand against Aston Villa and with the Liverpool slip up they knew 4 points from the final two league games would be enough for them to win the Title for the second time in 3 years.

Villa, playing with more freedom knowing their Premier League status was confirmed, held firm to go in at 0-0 at half time, but in the second half Man City came out fighting.

Edin Dzeko scored twice in 10 minutes to put the hosts 2-0 up before Steven Jovetic grabbed a third. Behind the scenes they are surely clearing space at the Etihad trophy cabinet for the return of the Premier League title.

Yaya Toure ended the rout scoring a brilliant solo goal and Man City’s 100th goal of the season, becoming only the second team in Premier League history to do so.

At the bottom of the league the feelings were very different, Fulham were beaten 4-1 at Stoke to confirm their place in the Championship next season and Cardiff didn’t put up much of a fight in a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle as they were also relegated.

Sunderland performed a miracle and became only the second team in Premier League history to survive the drop after being bottom at Christmas with a 2-0 win against West Brom on Wednesday night.

That result meant that Norwich need more than a miracle to survive now, only 3 points behind West Brom, they need a 18 goal swing in their favour to stay up.

It’s been a fantastic season in the Premier League with twists and turns almost every week at both the top and bottom of the table. Can City claim a point at home to West Ham to clinch the title or will there be one final huge twist in this unbelievable season?

Have Liverpool Spurned Their Greatest Chance?

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 | by Steve | No Comments

The 2013/14 Premier League season has had more twists and turns than most in previous years and this weekend continued to keep us guessing, with the top two playing each other and Manchester City travelling to inform Crystal Palace, it was going to be a big weekend at the top of the table.

In the early game on Sunday Liverpool hosted Chelsea knowing a win would put the title beyond Chelsea’s reach and effectively hand them their first Premiership Title. Liverpool started the game as they have in every other, attacking from the off, but Jose Mourinho used his tactical nous to stop the attacking threat posed by Liverpool and slow the game down by putting men behind the ball and closing down the space.

Despite Liverpool bossing the possession in the first half they were struggling to break down Chelsea’s defence and could only register one single shot on target in the first half. Despite this dominance in possession Chelsea had a strong claim for a penalty turned down by the referee, after Mohamed Salah’s shot struck the arm of Flanagan inside the area, and when Steven Gerrard slipped on the half way line Demba Ba was quick to react and run clean through on goal before comfortably finishing past Mignolet to put Chelsea 1-0 up at half time.

The second half followed the same pattern but once again Chelsea were holding strong and kept Liverpool at bay. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, ex Liverpool striker Fernando Torres broke clear and unselfishly played in Willian who slotted home from close range to put the result to bed.

With that game finished it was over to Manchester City to try to close the gap on the top to just three points and with the return of Yaya Toure they comfortably did so winning 2-0 against in form Palace at Selhurst Park.

Toure was involved in the first goal, a great ball into the box was just begging for someone to head it in and Edin Dzeko was on hand to score his 12 goal of the season before a great bit of passing play and a strong run from Toure finished off the game to leave them 3 points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand and better goal difference. Will Manchester City Win the League? Will Liverpool hold onto top spot? Who will slip up from now until the end of the season? It all points to City’s next game at Goodison Park being decisive, a win there will surely see City being crowned champions again at the end of the season.

At the bottom of the league it was just as intense, the bottom two clubs Sunderland and Cardiff played each other, Fulham hosted Hull City and Norwich travelled to play against Man Utd, with club legend and newly appointed manager Ryan Gigs in charge of his first game.

Fulham quickly sprung to a two goal lead and looked like piling on the pressure on the teams below them but the new Hull strike force of Jelavic and Long punished Fulham, the game ending 2-2 leaving Fulham despondent and with only an outside chance of avoiding the drop.

In the late kick off on Saturday evening, new manager Ryan Giggs won his first game in charge smashing four goals past struggling Norwich to compound their misery.

A high noon kick off on Sunday at the stadium of light saw Sunderland run out 4-0 winners against Cardiff to leave the welsh club bottom of the Premier League and all but doomed to relegation back to the Championship.

The three teams in the relegation zone seem to have it all to do now but who do you think will be the three to go down? Will Aston Villa get dragged into the battle? Can Fulham manage a surprise escape?