Fancy Guessing Who Needs A Win More Than Most?

You might have heard, but Davey Moyes could rather do with a no-nonsense home win. It's also a Big Weekend for Southampton, Benteke, Norwich and the Berb...

Last Updated: 06/12/13 at 11:46 Post Comment

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David Moyes
The thing about football, and indeed every job that comes with a degree of public attention, is that when things go badly, we expect those involved to deal with it magnanimously. To be polite about the whole thing. To not break something or go off in a massive sulk, waking around 12 hours later in a pile of pizza boxes, empty brandy bottles and shame.

If some chap on Twitter is to be relied upon (and why wouldn't you disbelieve 'some chap on Twitter'?) then Moyes might actually have taken the latter route, but his two minutes, eight seconds-long press conference after the defeat to Everton had more than a whiff of sulk about it.

And you can't blame him. Would you be all sweetness and light and smiling quips if your job was going badly, on this occasion thanks to the younger, better-dressed and more affable chap who has your old job? Good lord no. Sky wouldn't be able to show the press conference before the watershed.

"I've got nothing to suggest anything else," mumbled Moyes when asked if United could make up the 12 points they currently trail Arsenal by.

Ah, but we have David. How about already dropping 80% of the points United missed out on last season? How about no wins in the last three? How about games and points lost by completely ceding the midfield thanks to inadequate personnel? How about a troubling reliance on two strikers, one of whom is streaky, while the other is showing signs of returning to the bad old days of frequent injury? How about a bizarre passivity after Everton scored on Wednesday, when a United side of yore would have roared back and at the very least made the visitors sweat for their points?

The good news for Moyes is that the rest of December looks fairly manageable. After Newcastle on Saturday, they face Aston Villa, West Ham, Hull and Norwich. All games you'd expect United to win, and win with relative ease. The problem is that not only do United have to win those games, you wouldn't necessarily trust the team that has dropped points against Cardiff and West Brom to win them either.

Another problem is the United team. As well as injuries to Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney will be banned this weekend after picking up his fifth booking, as it turns out only delaying the suspension he should have received for booting Jordon Mutch in the calf by a week. I suggested in Winners and Losers that Marouane Fellaini playing behind Javier Hernandez might be an option for Moyes, which is not an especially inspiring prospect, but possibly what United are stuck with.

Still, none of that will fly, excuse-wise, on Saturday. In all likelihood, as long as Moyes keeps United above the 'embarrassing' threshold, he will keep his job this season. However, back-to-back home defeats might nudge them closer and closer to that mark.

Arsenal and Everton
Call me the 'H' word all you like, but this looks like being not only the most interesting game of the weekend, but maybe even the season so far.

Think about it - it's a game between two teams who play interesting football, both of whom are either at the top or very close to the top of their respective games. Both are high on confidence - Arsenal due to their position at the top of the table, Everton because of the events at Old Trafford and their own fine recent form.

The game has significance in the league table too, with Arsenal warding off Chelsea, and Everton looking to overhaul Liverpool and get into the top four.

So cancel all your plans for 4pm on Sunday and watch it. Now, over to the players to actually cash the cheques my mouth has written. Or something.

Crystal Palace
Football365 wasn't the only place Palace were written off after their calamitous start to the season. Their chances were viewed as somewhere between 'grim' and 'non-existent' by sages up and down the land, but that was before Tony Pulis arrived, and whatever he has done since poking his baseball cap around the Selhurst Park door, it is working.

Of course, beating West Ham in their current state is not something to get too excited about, but by golly it's a start. A win at home to Cardiff would similarly not be cause to invite the Palace Crystals around for tea and medals, but it will probably put them level on points with the fourth-bottom Hammers.

And who would've predicted that, even a few weeks ago?

Mauricio Pochettino declared that Southampton's defeat to Aston Villa on Wednesday was largely down to individual errors at the back. Whether it was his fault or his players, that loss was their third in a row so for a team with slightly higher expectations these days than merely surviving, they need to stop that trend on Saturday. The problem there is they are playing Manchester City at home, who for 75 minutes at least cruised against West Brom. And are, you know, theoretically pretty good.

If Southampton do lose, they may suffer the indignity of being below Manchester United in the table. How embarrassing.

Manchester City
One away win is good. You know what's better than two away wins?

You're way ahead of me, you clever things.

For all their general incompetence this season, Sunderland's home performances have actually been a little better than their results suggest. They have of course beaten Manchester City and Newcastle, and gave bloody great scares to Chelsea and Manchester United.

And for all the encouraging noises Gus Poyet has made, after winning two of his first three games in charge, they have taken one point from the last three.

They face a Spurs side who, despite the win over Fulham, are still far from convincing. There's a fragility and an uncertainty to Andre Villas-Boas' side that could be exploited if Sunderland play like they did in the latter stages of the Chelsea game.

They could do with the win, too. With Crystal Palace remembering how to pick up points and Rene Meulensteen now installed at Fulham, they could quite quickly find themselves five points adrift at the bottom of the table, should results go awry at the weekend.

Christian Benteke
Another day on the bench and he might be regretting signing that contract in the summer. Sure, if he'd have left he might still be a substitute somewhere, but perhaps somewhere shinier, and with more money.

Hull's strikers
Humiliating stuff for Hull City Tigers - after Wednesday night, now Spurs have scored more goals than them this season. Oh the shame, the awful, awful shame.

Still, there is a serious point to be made. Hull's strikers have contributed a grand total of three goals to the cause this season. That's what happens when a last-minute move for Shane Long falls through, leaving you with Danny Graham as a centre-forward option.

Hull are doing OK so far, and are at least adhering to the idea that it's a relatively solid defence that will keep you up, rather than a particularly potent attack.

Still, a couple of goals wouldn't hurt, eh lads?

West Ham
"Of course he has, he is our captain," said Mark Noble when asked if Kevin Nolan, who hasn't scored a goal this season and whose substitution in their last three games has, shall we say, not exactly been greeted with universal disapproval by the Hammers' fans, had the backing of the players.

"Kev is brilliant in the dressing room and he has been unbelievable for us. He is big enough and strong enough to handle all that sort of stuff, so I am sure he will be fine.

"He is the gaffer's man and he looks after the dressing room and all of the problems in there. You need someone like that. I do not think the gaffer has taken him off because of the way he was playing, he just wanted to change things."

Of course, Noble was hardly going to say 'Aye, he's bobbins. Drop him, Sam', and it hardly seems fair to single out one player who has been bad for West Ham recently, but Allardyce has to do something, and that something might have to end up being dropping his captain and for so long talismanic player.
The Hammers need a win at the weekend to stave off the relegation zone pack, but the bad news is they're facing Luis Suarez and Liverpool, who didn't do too badly on Wednesday evening.

New mantra for the Norwich dressing room wall: 'At least we're not playing Suarez. At least we're not playing Suarez. At least we're not playing Sua...'

Dimitar Berbatov
"I don't usually speculate as nobody knows what will happen in January but what I can tell you is he is not happy at Fulham. He would like, if possible, to find another option" - Emil Dantchev, Dimitar Berbatov's agent.

"The most important thing is that we have to focus from game to game all the way up to the beginning of January and I had some good chats with Dimitar. He is a player that really cares for this club and I think that was evident in the way he played tonight" - Rene Meulensteen.

We'll see, but if Fulham are to get out of trouble, you imagine they will need a fit, in-form and committed Berbatov to do so.

Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Please Stop Telling Us What To Think


ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

Wenger hails important win


s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

De Gea's Europa League target

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