A week is a long time in football, but for some it would have felt longer than for others:
The brilliance of Martin O’Neill has been fawned over by the media since he arrived at Sunderland and transformed their fortunes seemingly overnight. O’Neill has long been held in high regard, but the job he is doing at the Stadium Light is only adding to the legend.
Last weekend, however, Sunderland hit a speed bump. They were beaten at home to Arsenal courtesy of an injury time goal from Thierry Henry, a result which could have potentially derailed their season.
Derailed? Not a bit of it. With the same visitors in town, albeit much more beleaguered after a mauling in the Champions League, the Mackem’s produced an assured display to ensure their place in the quarter final of the FA Cup. Black Cats fans must be in dreamland.
Despite last weekends loss, Sunderland sit ninth, nine points behind Newcastle in sixth. With no side in the race for Europe able to put an extended run together, O’Neill might quietly be hoping for yet more upward mobility. This, coupled with a potential Wembley appearance, and it is a good time to be a Sunderland fan.
The best player on the planet, according to, well, everyone, was at his imperious best again last night as he hit four goals in Barcelona’s 5-1 win over Valencia. The Argentinian maestro and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly go goal for goal in La Liga with 27 and 28 strikes respectively, and while it is Madrid who hold the advantage in the league, no one would bet against a Messi Golden Boot-Champions League double.
Bad week probably doesn’t do the last seven days justice. Hope was fairly high when Arsenal boarded the plane to Milan for the Champions League last-32 tie. Fast forward a few days and a season which had already appeared to have reached a nadir on numerous occasions, has plumped to new depths. A humbling 4-0 defeat in the San Siro, followed by an equally worrying 2-0 loss at Sunderland leaves hopes of a first Arsenal trophy since 2005 in tatters.
Teams have been hammered in Milan before, but this is hardly a Rossoneri side of the finest vintage. The way in which they dismissed the Gunners was ruthless – Arsenal fans may have looked at is gutless on their sides part.
The bleak FA Cup elimination at the Stadium of Light, just a week after they triumphed there, ensured the mood around the Emirates Stadium would not lift.
Some are calling for Wenger to end his time at the club, suggesting that he has officially lost the plot. While this is an unlikely eventuality for now, something will have to change. Wenger is in grave danger of completely undoing all the good work he has done for Arsenal, the club he revolutionised.
The Rangers manager had already seen his side’s huge lead in the league diminish. While Celtic went on an irresistible run, McCoist’s men stumbled their way through the SPL. Then came the news of the clubs entry into administration. Although they lost no places due to the chronically poor competition from fellow league clubs, falling 14 points behind their great cross-city rivals ended any hope of successive league championships. Saturday was meant to be a day for the club to start rebuilding, with fans showing their support, but Kilmarnock were in no mood for dolling out pity and claimed a fine 1-0 win. A sad week for a former giant in European football.
Gus Poyet had been warning people that his Brighton side was not ready for an assault on the Premier League, and it was almost as if he sent his side out against Liverpool to prove the fact. Although the Seagulls acquitted themselves well in the first half, the second half collapse and gifting of three own goals was hardly the work of a side likely to thrive in the top tier of English football. If quelling expectation was Poyet’s goal, his team did a fine job for him. Ryan Dunk’s own goal will go down as one of the games great efforts. Frank Sinclair would have been proud.