Another crucial weekend in the English Premier League has passed with incidents and talking points galore.
Which managers make the list of winners and losers this week?
Andre Villas-Boas (Tottenham Hotspur)
The award of winner for this week doesn’t go to AVB simply for his side’s performance against Manchester United. The former Porto and Chelsea boss has been under pressure from day one at White Hart Lane and in the early days of his reign the doubters amongst fans and the media were waiting for him to slip up. Gradually however, as the season has progressed, the Spurs players have bought into his management style and the team is now reaping the benefits of playing as a united force. Sunday’s fightback against Sir Alex Ferguson’s league leaders demonstrated a resilience and belief that everyone is pulling in the same direction in their fight for a top four place. Something not always so obvious at Tottenham.
Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has patiently been trying to assemble a team capable of reaching the upper echelons of the Premier League and challenging for silverware and after his first six months at the helm, the fruits of his labour are just beginning to bloom. The fans at Anfield are being rewarded for having faith in the new manager as he attempts to impose his culture on a club steeped in its own methods, and after an up-and-down start to his time on Merseyside, they’re finally seeing themselves headed on an upward curve. The 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City is testament to the confidence currently coursing through the Reds players.
Brian McDermott (Reading)
Pre-season favourites for relegation, Reading, have struggled all year to cope with the jump up from the Championship and have been constantly flirting with the bottom three slots in the league. But as the pressure has been cranked up on Brian McDermott and his men, they have responded admirably with three victories in their last four games to give them a fighting chance of survival as we move towards the final third of the fixture list. Reading’s come-from-behind win at fellow strugglers Newcastle United came just a week after their amazing comeback victory at home to West Bromwich Albion and gives the Royals the belief that they can beat the drop.
Arsene Wenger (Arsenal)
The Arsenal manager seems to be under constant fire from the press and fans these days as the Gunners high standards fail to be met. A lack of quality in the squad rules them out of any credible title challenge these days and the current crop at the Emirates are in real danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 16 years. Sunday’s woeful first half performance in the defeat at Chelsea condemned them to a loss that sees them lying seven points behind their bitter rivals Spurs and without a massive restructuring of the playing staff, Wenger and Arsenal’s once blissful marriage could be heading for a rocky divorce.
Alan Pardew (Newcastle United)
It’s now seven defeats in nine games for Newcastle United and after leading at home to fellow relegation scrappers Reading, Alan Pardew would have expected his side to see out the game and earn a much-needed three points. However, another capitulation by the Magpies now sees them anchored firmly in the mire with the likes of QPR and Wigan Athletic. Following the departure of Demba Ba to Chelsea it is critical Pardew is given plenty of money to spend on reinforcements before the end of the current transfer window with the possibility of Fabricio Coloccini also heading for the exit at St. James’ Park.
Roberto Martinez (Wigan Athletic)
Wigan Athletic, who are renowned for their scrapes with relegation, find themselves second bottom of the table after their 2-3 defeat to mid-table Sunderland at the DW Stadium. Games such as this one will have been targeted by Roberto Martinez as winnable, but despite throwing everything except the kitchen sink at the Black Cats, they gave themselves too much to do after going 1-3 down at the break. Martinez has a lot to do to mimic his usual escapology act with the Latics. Their recent form, particularly at home, is appalling and if they don’t arrest the slide soon they will find themselves adrift of the rest with no hope of catching up.