Hello from sunny California.
It’s pretty difficult to get much in the way of football news over here. Baseball, ice hockey and poker seem to filling every channel, and the hotel internet is painfully slow. But there we go.
Having been in the dark about the Wigan game until about 24 hours after it happened, I spent most of Monday wishing that it had stayed that way. Eminently missable was the verdict I’ve heard most often.
So the question is – does this hand the initiative to United? Possibly, given that a win in their game in hand will see them go top now, and in fact after Chelsea’s predictable demolition of Derby, they can pull back to within two points with a win in theirs. All three clubs now have destiny in their own hands, thanks to the fact that all will play each other.
But there are plenty of twists ahead. Sometimes you get to this stage of the season and wonder where the top clubs are going to drop points. But here’s a neat fact for you – the only fixture the top five don’t have to play against each other in Everton-United. All nine other combinations are left. And United still have to play Villa and Blackburn.
Any of those matches are dangerous. Dropped points are inevitable given that everyone has so much to fight for – and that’s before you take into account the fact that relegation threatened sides tend to pull out the odd incredible performance at this stage of the season.
It is mid table sides you want to be playing, and that’s where we’ll start, trying to avenge our only Premiership defeat of the season when Boro come to town on Saturday. The good news is that we have no fresh injuries, and the return of van Persie means some of the weight is off Adebayor’s exhausted shoulders. And speaking of freshness, Boro may be short of it having had to play Villa tonight in a tough game.
We haven’t won in England since February 11, and a victory on Saturday is crucial given that four games that follow it – Chelsea, Liverpool and United wrapped around our usual joyous trip to Bolton.
Buckle up, this is what championship chasing is all about. It isn’t supposed to be easy.