Straight Talk by Steve McMahon
EVERTON manager David Moyes was probably not expecting to go into the Premier League clash with Manchester City on the back of a FA Cup hammering by relegation-threatened Wigan.
That performance was one of the worst I have ever seen from Everton, not at all the kind of display anyone would want prior to playing the Premier League champions.
Some optimistic Toffees fans might be praying for the shock loss to inspire a backlash when Roberto Mancini’s men come to visit, but I simply cannot see that happening.
Everton are a team that possess only a handful of individuals capable of troubling City, but they stand out from other mid-table squads because of the team-work and organisation that Moyes has drilled into them.
However, with the Scot non-committal about his future, I believe the players have become disillusioned by the uncertainty surrounding Goodison Park, leading to a drop in performance.
With Nikica Jelavic struggling to hit the back of the net and star man Marouane Fellaini not as consistent as he was earlier in the season (one goal in the last five games in all competitions), the three points are ripe for City’s taking.
Mancini’s team appears to be peaking and though hopes of retaining the championship are all but over, City should finish just shy of rivals Manchester United in the title race.
An upset is more likely to take place at the Liberty Stadium, when Arsenal visit Swansea tomorrow.
Michael Laudrup’s team have slipped to ninth place since their historic League Cup triumph, but they were unlucky to lose to West Brom last weekend.
The Swans have already caused Arsenal problems in this campaign, so Gunners fans can certainly expect more of the same when the teams meet for the final time in the league.
Naturally, there is more at stake for Arsene Wenger’s team than Swansea. The Gunners must attempt to win all of their remaining fixtures and pray for London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham to undergo a last-minute collapse if they are to stand any chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season, a rather improbable scenario as things stand.
There could no better reason for the club to part ways with Wenger should they fail to take fourth place, yet indications are that the club’s board is not even contemplating the possibility of replacing their manager.
The Gunners’ loyalty to the Frenchman is bordering on obstinate and I cannot help but wonder if their dogged belief in his philosophies is misplaced.
Spurs will not be keen to do Arsenal any favours when navigating their derby game against Fulham, especially after their winning run came to a grinding halt against Liverpool last weekend.
With Martin Jol’s team frightfully poor away from home, Fulham should provide little resistance to Tottenham unless Dimitar Berbatov can pull off a bit of magic against his old club.
It should be similarly easy for Chelsea when West Ham make the short journey to Stamford Bridge.
The comeback against United in the FA Cup will galvanize the Blues for the final stretch of the season and the fans could be forced to eat their words if Benitez delivers them a Champions League place on top of some silverware.
Former Liverpool and England international Steve McMahon is a football expert with FOX SPORTS’ Monday nights ‘The Verdict’, on at 8pm HKT.
- Everton’s Moyes slams semi-final kickoff time
- Everton’s Moyes slams early semi-final kickoff time
- Champs City agree deal to sign Everton’s Rodwell
- City survive scare to win, Chelsea take it easy
- Manchester City and Liverpool enjoy easy wins