POINTS BATTLE IN LONDON DERBY
Points battle in London derby
By Bolade Oladoye
March 19, 2010 02:56AM
Porto's Hulk (R) kicks the ball past Arsenal's Sol Campbell during their Champions League soccer match at the Dragon stadium in Porto. Photo: REUTERS
Arsenal- West Ham clash is definitely a must watch match tomorrow, a back to back London derby for West Ham, who are still licking their wounds after the 4-1 bashing they got at Stamford Bridge last week.
West Ham are battling to escape the drop, with just three points above relegation teams, they know losing at the hands of the Gunners is not an option. Danny Gabbidon, West Ham centre half said they will go on fighting to avoid the drop, and he is not ruling out an upset at the Emirate.
“I think we will be OK, but we have to keep battling, give 110 percent. We have got a few games coming up where we should pick up some points. We are not playing badly at the moment, so we have to keep doing what we are doing and I think we will be fine.” The 30-year-old is confident that they are capable of frustrating Arsenal's title ambitions on Saturday, as a win is necessary to ensure their survival in the English top flight.
But against Arsenal that are hot at the moment, five straight wins, and expecting Cesc Fabregas back, no test could me more herculean, particularly with Fabregas, Rosicky and Carlos Velas expected back for the game.
Already tied on points with Chelsea, a win tomorrow will take the Gunners to the top of the table, at least till Sunday when Manchester United takes on Liverpool.
Aston Villa to make it nine in a row
Aston Villa took another huge step towards a top-four finish last Tuesday night when they compounded Wigan's woe by securing a 2-1 victory over relegation strugglers. Tomorrow they play another struggler, Wolves at the Villa Park, a win for them, a slip for Manchester City, might just see the Villains go fourth on the table, at least till Liverpool play Manchester United on Sunday.
While Villa is fighting to be in the top four, it is a different battle for Wolves, it is a relegation battle for them. But just like their host tomorrow they got an away win last time out against Burley, to put daylight between them, and other relegation battlers.
Funny enough both teams got a help from their opponents from their week 30 wins. While James McCarthy scored an own goal to give Aston Villa the lead in Wigan 2-1 loss, it was Carlisle 47th minute own goal that made it two for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Perhaps that is where the similarities end. Since losing to Liverpool in December Aston Villa had been unbeaten in the league in eight games, and Wolves have lost five of their own last eight, in fact three in the last five.
John Carew and Gabriel Agbolahor are expected to be thrown into the fray on Saturday to subdue their visitors.
If case were to be made for Wolves, it is to the effect that their away records is not that bad, out of fourteen away matches, they won three and drew three.
And no matter how impressive Villa unbeaten run seems, they drew five of the eight, with three coming at home. When both sides clashed last October it ended 1-1 with Agbonlahor scoring for the Vallians in the 79th, and Ebanks-Blake levelling things up four minutes later with a penalty goal.
Gradual climb back for Everton Everton have lost just one of their last 13 home league matches and now won the last five in a row, scoring two goals or more in each. They've beaten the likes of Man City, Chelsea and Manchester United in that run, so playing Hull tomorrow will likely not make them break too much sweat. The Toffees have also kept three clean-sheets in those five wins which suggest Hull may struggle for goals against them with their poor away scoring record.
Hull is in the bottom three but has picked up some useful results of late. However, those points have been picked up at the KC Stadium as the Tigers have struggled on the road. Phil Brown's team have lost their last 3 away games in succession without scoring, so chances of an upset at Goodison look slim.