Weekend of three derby matches

I will not comment on the embarrassment that English teams have suffered in Europe for fear of rubbing salt on raw wounds.

Suffice to say, English teams might be popular around the world, but they are very poor on the pitch. At the beginning, there were four English teams in the champions League, now only Man City remain. In Europa, too, there were four English teams, but only Liverpool remain. It speaks volumes about English teams. It has pampered players who receive obscene salaries but their contribution on the pitch has been poor to say the least.

Of course, Leicester City are an exception from this group of rich clubs with poor results on the pitch. Leicester is a club run on a shoestring budget but they achieve results akin to a billionaire sponsored club.

Five points clear of Tottenham at the top of the log table Leicester are only eight games away from achieving the impossible. Crystal Palace is next on the menu to be roasted today as the Foxes continue their march to championship.

But it is the three derbies in West London (Chelsea vs West Ham), Manchester (City vs United) and Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland that are the talking point.

West Ham are in fine form at the moment. They have taken points off any of the top four. They are knocking hard on the door to the top four.

West Ham (49 points) know that a win against Chelsea could take them to fourth position with 52 points above Man City, who are on 51 points and play tomorrow.

However, Chelsea will be mindful that West Ham won the first round 2-1 and will come prepared. Chelsea will have home ground advantage today but their cause has been hampered by suspension of key striker Diego Costa, who was red carded in the FA Cup defeat to Everton and faces further action for violent conduct.

Once again it is a chance for youngsters like Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traore to stake their claim in the starting line-up after being overlooked by Jose Mourinho. I still think West Ham are good value to win this West London derby.

However, the mother of all derbies will be in Manchester where United will travel to meet their noisy neighbours. The match gives United a chance to bounce back to winning ways after being dumped out of Europa by Liverpool. But the young players show great promise and if they can turn up against City, United (47 points) can climb to fifth position.

City seem to have switched off their chase for the English Premier League. They were held by lowly Norwich last week as Manuel Pellegrini seems to focus on the Champions League glory where they are through to the quarter-finals. It will be interesting to see how both teams react to their mixed fortunes.

There are also interesting matches in Spain tomorrow as leaders Barcelona visit Villarreal while Real Madrid play against Sevilla. n

Share This Post