WE'LL SEE HOW SERIOUS PELLEGRINI IS
We'll see the whites of Manuel Pellegrini's eyes this week. It's all very well replacing Joe Hart with Costel Pantilimon for Norwich City. But will he risk the same for a decisive Champions League tie against CSKA Moscow? Pantilimon hardly touched the ball for City's 7-0 rout on Saturday. The great irony is that on the day Pellegrini informed Hart he would be dropping him, Romanian Pantilimon was being axed himself for his country's World Cup playoff with Greece. Victor Piturca's decision again highlights the big hole in City's transfer policy, with a paucity of quality keeper options behind Hart.
POWELL OUTPERFORMING UTD PALS IN EUROPE
Nick Powell is really coming into his own at Wigan Athletic. The on-loan Manchester United midfielder hit his fifth goal of the season in victory over Huddersfield Town in just his tenth start. Latics boss Owen Coyle says Powell has the same ability as Jack Wilshere and Danny Sturridge, having worked with both England players while in charge of Bolton Wanderers. What's been impressive from Powell is his impact in Europe. The midfielder has shone in Europa League action against clubs of the stature of Rubin Kazan and Zulte Waregem. When you consider how United's youngsters have struggled in Europe in recent seasons, it makes Powell's emergence all the more worth recognising.
KING KENNY MAKES PRESS' ARGUMENT (WITHOUT REALISING IT!)
The result against Chelsea simply papered over the cracks at Newcastle United. Barely hours after the final whistle, we had the Joe Kinnear farce of making enquiries about signing Birmingham City fullback Shane Ferguson, only to be informed he was actually a Newcastle United player! But that's just a side issue to the growing rift between management and the club's stakeholders. Following on from the local press ban, came the Supporters' Trust revelation that they've been barred from future club forums. The craziest thing has been former Newcastle boss Kenny Dalglish defending the club's treatment of the local press - and all done in the Mirror. Perhaps the great man isn't across this - but those local newspapers banned by Mike Ashley are owned by the same company. Would King Kenny be able to express such a view if places were switched and Ashley was in charge of Trinity Mirror?
SPURS FANS FIRST CLASS IN WAKE OF AVB CRITICISM
The Tottenham Supporters' Trust and major fans' groups deserve great credit for the way they handled Andre Villas-Boas' criticism of the White Hart Lane atmosphere last week. Three days later, the place was rocking for the Capital One Cup thriller against Hull City. Egged on by the pundits and radio hosts, it could have been so different for AVB. They were baiting Spurs fans on talkback last week, wanting to hear from those insulted. Instead, supporters took his comments as they were meant and the relationship between fans and the manager is stronger for it. You only have to recall the tension between Rafa Benitez and Chelsea's support to know how these issues can quickly go south.
STILL QUESTION MARKS OVER ARSENAL
So will Jurgen Klopp have seen anything to concern him after Arsenal's victory over Liverpool? Going forward, the Gunners were irresistible and certainly the Borussia Dortmund coach will recognise their Champions League opponents' ability to pass their way through any defence. But seeing Arsenal struggle without the ball, particularly with Mikel Arteta routinely caught out of position will encourage the BVB coach. Saturday was a good test for Arsenal - and they came through it with a deserved victory. But the way both Jordan Henderson and Danny Sturridge were invited to run straight through the centre of Arsenal's defence in the first-half has to be a concern for Arsene Wenger. And for Klopp, seeing the hosts battle to keep the ball when Liverpool deployed a high press will leave him confident for this week's game.
ATKINSON ARSENAL'S FAVOURITE REF
It must be time for the refs chief to pull Martin Atkinson to one side. He was at it again on Saturday. Liverpool, minutes after going behind at Arsenal, had a legitimate goal chalked off by Atkinson for taking their free-kick too quickly. With the ball in the back of the Arsenal net, he told the visitors to play the free-kick again as he wanted to hand out a booking. That moment could've changed the course of the game. And he's a repeat offender. Atkinson did the same for Arsenal against Sunderland. And the Gunners player involved in the foul was also the same - Bacary Sagna.
WAS IT MOYES OR TORRES WHO UPSET CHICHARITO?
There's no time to savour when you're Manchester United manager. David Moyes had barely hours to enjoy a thoroughly impressive victory at Fulham before facing a new crisis at United. Javier Hernandez made clear his frustrations being dropped for the Craven Cottage game with two weighty tweets yesterday. Moyes was effusive with his praise for Chicharito, who had scored three times in the previous two games, in the lead up, but then dropped him. Exasperating the problem was Miguel Herrera's decision to select an entirely home-based Mexico squad for their World Cup playoff against New Zealand. Chicharito is sure to have been left frustrated that his hopes of reaching the World Cup had been taken out his hands. Herrera's call was made just hours before the United striker's tweets yesterday.
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