Saturday’s English Premier League recap
It was an outstanding afternoon of football on Saturday, that saw a resurgent Wigan’s style more European than than relegation, and a mercurial Luis hatrick. This is FFTD’s Sunday review.
We’ll start at the Hawthorns, where a fledgling Aston Villa visited their traditional rivals with the chance to steer clear of a nervy month of May.
Instead, it was the Baggies who looked the more likely, with Dorrans, Brunt and Thomas in particular finding ample space within a disorganised McLeish setup.
At times it was difficult to see a holding player for Villa, and in the end it was the much maligned Shay Given and a dubious goal-line clearance from Hutton that rescued a point away from home.
Their 16th draw of the season is a decent away point, but does little to arrest their worrying slide towards a Championship ready to swallow them whole (maybe spitting out the likes of Bent, Agbonlahor and Dunne to fuel the media’s transfer addiction).
Next we travel to Wigan, where two of the form sides of the league squared off in a match that had bearing on both ends of the table. In any other week, this would have been the match of the round, but apparently only Mr Martinez got the memo.
His side produced a scintillating opening 45, a just reward for Dave Wheelan and his managerial stickability.
The Wigan front four were dynamic, with the electric Moses an ever-present threat. The back three were resolute lead by the usual brilliance of their Omani shot stopper, allowing a red-hot Newcastle collective scant opportunity in front of goal.
Wigan have grabbed 15 points from their last seven outings, including wins over United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle in that run, to see them surely secure Premier League football in 2013, with winnable fixtures against Blackburn and Wolves to follow.
For Newcastle, it was a day of extreme disappointment; possibly a day that has been looming for some time.
After such an emphatic string of victories, a loss was just around the corner, and with City and Chelsea looming, this result could spell the end of their admirable top-four challenge.
Their irresistible attacking quartet were off colour in the final third, producing just the two shots on goal for the afternoon. Similarly, their impressive defensive pressure was left on Tyneside, in what must surely be their worst day of this campaign.
Pardew can look forward to trips to the glamour and glitz of Romania, Poland and the Ukraine next season.
Ironically, the game with no bearing on the league produced a fine spectacle, with an entertaining 4-4 for the second time in a week.
Swansea and Wolves left their defensive plans on the training paddock and decided goals were a more acceptable option.
For Wolves, who have conceded a whopping 79 times, they may have been more accustomed to such a flippant, carefree defensive attitude, but our Welsh brethren looked less than impressed after capitulating from their 4-1 stranglehold.
Make sure you get the highlights from this one.
Sunderland and Bolton provided another absolute belter that must be disheartening for the precariously poised Trotters, who have used up any emotional impetus from the fortunes of Fabrice.
While Coyle was upbeat about his side’s chances, and Davies’ late equaliser may have felt like a point saved rather than two that slipped away, many pundits had previously earmarked this as a chance to move clear of serious trouble.
Instead, Bolton remain well and truly in the mire of relegation, and now three points from a home tie with the Albion may not be enough.
Instead, they require possibly more than a point from tough away trips to Spurs and the Britannia to book their place in the league going forward.
In a game less consequential than a UN summit, Liverpool travelled to Carrow road without their glistening starlet in Andy Carroll, but with a rampant Suarez who in the end was the difference between the sides.
Rumblings from within the Kop about the outdated Dogleish have been momentarily quashed, and a strong finish in the league coupled with Cup success could keep King Kenny in a job for 2013 – an unfavourable outcome in FFTD’s opinion.
Don’t watch this game, whatever you do, but catch that third Suarez goal from here.