Despite a cracking game in progress between Man City and Everton, and two different London derbies this weekend, eyes on the Prem this week may very well be on the bottom of the table, where fates of some of the more underachieving teams might be set in fast-drying plaster. Your topics for the week:
Relegation Six-Pointer!: Villa sits right above the drop zone in 17th with 27 points, and the recently-resurgent QPR (read: They bought players in January and actually won a game last week) is hugging the bottom at 23 points. For those looking for relegation drama and fun, clearly a QPR win is the most delightful outcome, especially with Reading (fresh off a manager sacking) sure to crumble later today against Twelve Points Clear.
No More Champions: You might have heard — there are no English sides left in this year’s Champions League, as Arsenal was bounced from the Round of 16 with what the Guardian calls “a gallant failure” — winning 2-0 against Bayern Munich but going down on away goal differential. They’ll play Swansea in their ongoing quest for a Wenger — what we’ve deemed the fictional fourth-place cup the Gunners seem to excel at winning lately. They’ll be playing …
COACH OF THE YEAR MICHAEL LAUDRUP: As if the feel-good Swansea story wasn’t happy enough, with the Capital One Cup win and adorable Michu, the handsomer-than-up Laudrup was named the Prem’s best manager in a survey of the league’s managers. We hear Benitez finished a close second. (Note: We looked back on our August predictions of who would finish where in the Prem, and we all had the Swans finishing at the bottom of the table, as low as 19th. Clearly, we overestimated the Rodgers effect.)
Meanwhile, erstwhile Coach of the Year Roberto Martinez … : is trying to inspire Wigan to elevate themselves from the other drop zone spot, playing a Newcastle side that’s just learned Ben Arfa’s likely out for the remainder of the season. Wigan’s coming off a 3-0 win over Everton (of which Everton fans are painfully aware), yet it came in cup play, setting the Latics up for a semi-final match against Millwall, meaning GOD HELP US ALL ONE OF THESE TEAMS IS PLAYING IN THE FINALS AND THEY’RE BOTH GOING TO APPEAR IN WEMBLEY.
Bale!: Because now, seemingly, you can’t talk about the Prem without mentioning Heart-Hands. Is there anything he can’t do? Can he score in every game? Keep Spurs from the indignity of St. Tot’s day? Sign a huge contract with Real Madrid in the offseason? Lead the Welsh to a World Cup berth? (Okay, now we’re getting carried away.)
Bonus from ESPN2: At halftime of the City-Everton game, @DJVanillaSexual asked about video replay after the disallowed first-half goal (you’ll see replays and concur that Everton got hosed), and Ian Darke pronounced it “Van-ee-li-ah,” as if DJVanillaSexual was a Uruguayan striker, while Macca corrected him, and while Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” played in the background on the Goodison Park PA system. That was comedy gold.