I think the chance of us making top four are now extremely slim. The only team that I can see us catching, and it’s an outside hope now, with the remaining fixtures in mind would be Leicester City.
Leicester have the other five top six to play with Citeh at home, the Mighty Hammers at the Bowl, Baggies at home, Palace home, Southampton away and Newcastle home before a last three of Manyoo away, Chelski then the Spuds at home while we are Away to Wolves, have Leciester home, Newcastle away, Chelski home, Burley away and Everton home with a last three of Brighton away, The Baggies at home and Southampton away.
Losing to Manyoo, in my opinion, completely put to bed any hopes of us finishing second with the draw against Arsenal being the final nail in that coffin.
Forgetting Citeh who, in my opinion have won it but, will definitely finish top four the other three’s fixtures are: -
Manyoo – Brighton H, Spuds A, Burnley H, Leeds A, Liverpool H, Villa A, Leicester H, Fulham H and Wolves A
Chelski – Baggies H, Palace A, Brighton H, West Ham A, Fulham H, Citeh A, Arse H, Leicester A and Villa H
Spuds – Newcastle A, Manyoo H, Everton A, Sheff Utd H, Leeds A, Wolves H, Villa H, Leicester A and Southampton H
From those three Chelski, on paper, have the toughest time of it.
At present Chelski and Manyoo look extremely strong. I know that Leicester beat them but, I would suggest, that they have the more ‘winnable’ (as winnable as games in the Premier League can ever be) fixtures left, except for the Spuds, and have enough of a lead on us in fifth to ensure they are in the hat for the draw for Europe’s premier competition next season. The only other party poopers could be Liverpool, who should definitely not be written off, but I’m really not feeling them for a Champion’s League place next term.
Frankly I find the fact that I’m posting this article, at this time of the season, quite amazing and extremely refreshing. Firstly because of the fifth position that we find ourselves in and, secondly, because of the level of expectation that we now have for each match that we play. With the same amount of games played last season I distinctly remember compiling a similar list of fixtures with our relegation rivals. The other great thing is that we’re above the Spuds with their multi title winning manager and multi hundred million pound squad. As if the prospect of Champion’s League football, for the first time in our club’s history, were not enough the arrogant and over-confident words of Mr Mourinho will, undoubtedly, serve to gee up Moysey’s squad even further.
The biggest danger to our campaign to push on for a European place, however, comes from another source altogether. The next week and a bit sees the latest round of international ties with most teams playing three games in a very short space of time. If we can get all the, currently, fit players back without any injuries then our chances will be looking much stronger. It will only take one or two knocks to key players and we’ll be in big trouble.
Last Wednesday saw the Women’s team play at home to fellow strugglers Birmingham City. Following a spirited performance against Chelsea in their last game the Ladies came up against a determined Birmingham team who they were seconds away from overcoming however an injury time equaliser completed the scoring at two all.
In the early stages an opportunity was laid on with a brilliant cross from right back Cecilie Redisch but Martha Thomas’ header went straight in to keeper Hampton’s arms. Two minutes later a well worked corner to the edge of the box was cleanly hit goal-wards. The shot was well blocked but the rebound fell straight to Emily Murphy who tucked the chance away smartly. On thirteen minutes Dagny Brynjarsdottir played a sloppy ball straight to the opposition in midfield with the resulting move ending up with a great effort from the visitors dipping just over the bar. On the stroke of half time Laura Vetterlein lost the ball between her feet with her blushes being saved by the resulting shot being fired wide.
Soon after the break Emily Van Egmond tucked away a chance resulting from a high ball in to the box that fell to her from a fumbled punch from Hampton who was under pressure from Brynjarsdottir. Over the following fifteen minutes two further chances ended up being saved before Katarina Svitkova hit a sweet left footed strike across the keeper and in to the far corner of the goal via the post with Van Egmond turning provider. The Birmingham leveller came on ninety two minutes with a well placed volley from a cross that went over the entire defence to the far post.
Saturday sees the ladies away at high flying Manchester United with kick off at eleven thirty. Best of luck to the ladies for that one.
More happily the under twenty-threes recorded a great win over fellow strugglers Leicester City. Eventually Freddie Potts, Keenan Forson and Connor Coventry netted in the three-one win. After a competitive first half that ended with a goal apiece Dimi Halajko’s charges had the better of the second period. Encouragingly the match saw the return, to the starting line-up, of both Yarma and Artur who both played seventy-four minutes. Another big plus was that Nathan Holland was one of the two replacements for the first team squad players and looked lively in his twenty odd minutes on the pitch. Next up it’s a home tie against a talented Chelsea team on Friday 3rd April at 4.00. I’m sure the team will continue to play well and create chances which, in fairness, they’ve been doing for the vast majority of the season so far. Let’s hope they make the most of those chances and bag another three points.
Have a good week all.