Much has been made of Liverpool's breaks between games helping them physically, but Philip Cornwall thinks it's the time they have to rest their minds that matters...
The return of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo's partnership should have provided City with a huge boost on Wednesday. Instead, their title hopes are left in tatters...
The idea that anyone could be truly shocked by a managerial sacking these days is a rather quaint one. A faint raising of the eyebrows, perhaps, but unless Roman Abramovich bundled Jose Mourinho into a sack and chucked him into the Thames, shock should not be the overriding reaction.
Indeed, if the stories doing the rounds in the Wednesday morning papers are true, the only surprise about Michael Laudrup's dismissal from Swansea is that he lasted this long. Stories of a lack of discipline in the squad, of a jolly to Paris for two days after the defeat to West Ham, the open secret that he'd be leaving at the end of the season anyway and the constant air of a man standing on a stepping stone, all point to the conclusion that Laudrup's time at Swansea was up.
And it shouldn't be a surprise that Laudrup's tenure in Wales was so short, if only because of his previous managerial career. The only place Laudrup had stayed for longer than a season was Brondby, where he managed for four years in his first job. A short but impressive stint at Getafe ended after he resigned with half an eye on shinier jobs, he was sacked by Spartak Moscow after only seven months for "unsatisfactory results" and he managed to stay in one place for just over a year at Mallorca, before quitting over disagreements with the club's sporting director. After so many instances along those lines, it's difficult to escape the conclusion that Laudrup is the problem, rather than anyone else.
We perhaps should even have seen it coming from one of the most surreal transfer windows of recent times. When Swansea were suffering from some pretty bad injury problems, particularly in midfield, they recruited two strikers in Marvin Emnes and David Ngog who have plundered a massive four goals in 24 Championship games this term, and a bunch of kids from Scotland. Not exactly a month of business that suggested an enormous amount of faith and trust in the manager.
And all of this is even before you get to how Swansea are actually playing. You'll probably have seen the stat by now about their form since the League Cup final, but if you haven't, they have played 35 games, won eight, drawn nine and lost 18, gathering just 33 points. That, as sages will tell you while adjusting their spectacles, is relegation form.
They are currently 12th in the Premier League, which sounds OK until you remember what a loopy division it is this season, with three points separating relegation zone-dwelling, crisis club West Ham in 18th and comfortable mid-table safety merchants Stoke in 11th.
Swansea are going backwards, and with Laudrup seemingly phoning it in until the summer and an escape to sunnier and shinier climes, Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins must be pretty miffed. Laudrup signed a new contract last March, meaning the reported £4.5million pay-off will punch something of a hole in Swansea's finances. Indeed, you'd be pretty surprised if a condition of that deal was not that Jenkins stumped up for some squad strengthening in the summer, which he duly did to the tune of about £20million, with Wilfried Bony, Jonjo Shelvey and a couple of others arriving. While Bony and Shelvey have been successes to varying degrees, Jenkins will be forgiven for wondering if the last six months have been an expensive waste of time.
One might question the timing of the decision, coming just after the transfer window closed. Also, Laudrup could of course point to the bad luck which has befallen him in terms of injuries and so forth, but one might equally consider that decisions like using Jordi Amat as cover in midfield while the surplus to requirements Ki Sung-Yueng busily became Sunderland's best player this season (not, admittedly, a hard-fought title) was among errors equally responsible for the bottom falling out of their season.
Whether club stalwarts Garry Monk and Alan Curtis will be able to arrest the decline remains to be seen, but it's hard to argue that there isn't plenty of logic to getting rid of a manager who didn't want to be there, and was taking Swansea nowhere.
Nick Miller - follow him on Twitter
I dunno. They were still in the FA Cup having knocked out MANU at Old Trafford. Still in the Euro Cup, 12th in the League with an easier fixture list to come. Results might have been Down compared to last year, but what does sacking Laudrup achieve? They now have a novice in charge whose biggest contribution this season has been fighting with a first choice central defender. After delivering their first major trophy last year, didn't he deserve the chance to right a ship which wasn't sailing all that badly anyway?- vergilius