So sang Glenn Gregory twenty years ago. It may well have been ‘Appy ‘Arry’s song of choice this afternoon after this afternoons match at Fratton Park was postponed due to torrential rain. As a result of Blackburns’ win at Sunderland Arsenal are in 6th place, still two points behind the Tiny Tots in 4th but come Monday the gap ought to be five points as it will be a major surprise if West Brom leave North London with anything other than a severe beating. Bolton travel to the Riverside tomorrow which will be a tough encounter against a resurgent Middlesbrough who are still in the FA Cup and in the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Cup. But it is next weekend’s round of matches that could go a long way to deciding the battle for the final Champions League place. Whilst Arsenal entertain Aston Villa at THOF, Tottenham have a tough journey to St James Park whilst Bolton entertain Manchester United. Blackburn host Wigan in what is virtually a derby match with the visitors needing the points in a battle for the last UEFA Cup place. At the end of that weekend, unless all of the teams win which will be a surprise, it may be that Bolton’s game advantage is meaningless whilst Blackburn and Tottenham could find themselves overtaken once all games in hand are played.
In some respects the postponement works in Wenger’s favour as it has left the team ten days to prepare for the visit of Juventus to THOF on Tuesday night, a similar gap that preceded the victory in the Bernabeu in the last round of the Champions League. It does however appear to preclude Sol Campbell from starting that match as he will still be some way short of match fitness. On the other hand, Reyes has more time to recover and at least there can be no injuries inflicted in the match.
The month of April is shaping up nicely in this little battle as all of the teams have tough games, Arsenal travel to Old Trafford and entertain Tottenham, whilst the Tiny Tots entertain United and Bolton but visit Highbury and Goodison Park. If they come out of that run with anything more than three points, it will be a good return. For Bolton though, April is a complete pig of a month. The visit to Tottenham is the culmination of a run that sees them host Manchester United and Chelsea but have to visit Anfield with Charlton and West Brom their only respite. Blackburn appear to have the least troublesome time of it with their only difficult game being Liverpool at Ewood Park. I suspect Blackburn’s problem is that their visits to Charlton and Birmingham will be expected to yield three points apiece and it is that pressure of expectation that could be their undoing.
Sunderland continue to plummet to new depths of ineptitude in the Premier League. Whilst they are not endangering Swindon Town’s record of 100 goals conceded, they look set to leave the division with a record low points total. Currently they have amassed a stunning ten points which they may increase to sixteen by the end of the season but if I were a Mackem, I wouldn’t bet on it reaching that high. Add to that they have only scored 19 – yes nineteen – goals all season with nine only at the Stadium Of Light. But the real record that they are attacking with such gusto is to become the first team to go an entire season without winning a game at home. They have just three matches left to continue with their attempt with such verve. Their opponents? Fulham, Newcastle and Arsenal. No guesses which is the one they really want to win. Hint: It isn’t a team from London…
Elsewhere, congratulations to Reading who will have to forgo the journeys to Southampton and Hillsborough to suffer the hardships of going to the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford. No doubt they will be hoping for one of the Big Four at home on the opening day of the season, accompanied by the Sky cameras which would give their bank manager a nice welcome to the Premier League.
Today’s Tunes are from Echo and The Bunnymen. Last year saw the groups 25th anniversary in the pop business with the usual plethora of re-issues and bonus tracks – go to your local record store to buy “Heaven Up Here” if you do not own the album. A cracking album which brings forth memories of a night during 1984 in my then local with the rest of the drinkers being serenaded by two very drunk Scots lads crooning in what was their best “Mac” impressions – yes there were bloody awful – but to their credit, even in their inebriated state they knew the lyrics to “Over The Wall”, “Heaven Up Here” and “Show Of Strength”. So in their honour, those three tracks are included from a concert in Rotterdam the year before.