Moyes thanks loyal fans
Manchester United manager David Moyes has thanked the club’s fans for their loyalty during his first season in charge.
The 50-year-old succeeded fellow scot Alex Ferguson, who ended his 26-year tenure with the club by winning his 13th EPL title, on 1 July 2013.
Moyes with January signing Juan Mata who has also struggled to make an impact (Getty Images)
Many expected United might struggle to challenge for the EPL title as they come to grips with a new management. However, few expected they would be struggling to qualify for the Champions League, and indeed the Red Devils may not even feature in any European competition next season for the first time since 1989, when they didn’t feature due to a ban by UEFA on all English clubs.
In a magazine sent to United season ticket holders, Moyes wrote: “The difficult season we have experienced was not something that I envisaged.”
Many of the Man Utd fans have been tolerant and continue to show their support. (Getty Images)
United only lost five league games last season on their way to securing their 20th league title, but have already lost eight times in the current campaign, including home defeats by West Brom, Everton, Newcastle and Tottenham.
They were also beaten at home by Swansea in the FA Cup third round and by Sunderland in the League Cup semi-final, and face a struggle to make it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League after losing 2-0 in the first leg of the last-16 with Olympiakos.
“You are accustomed to seeing a successful Manchester United and the backing you have given the players and me throughout the season has been incredible,” Moyes continued in his letter.
“Supporting your team when they are winning is easy, but much harder when things are not going as well, and the loyalty you have shown us has been magnificent.
“I have absolutely no doubt we will see great winning sides here again.”
Moyes, who began his managerial career at Preston before spending 11 years with Everton, added: “Everything we have been through will make us a better, stronger team and club in the future.”
Wenger backs Wilshere for World Cup place
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has said that Arsenal will “do “absolutely everything” for Jack Wilshere to play in this summer’s World Cup after the midfielder was ruled out for eight weeks with injury.
It was a reckless challenge on Wilshere and could cost him a starting spot in the World Cup. (Getty Images)
Wilshere fractured his foot after being on the receiving end of a poor challenge from Liverpool’s Danish international Daniel Aggar. The injury means Wilshere will be out for at least six-weeks and may struggle to secure a place in this England’s World Cup squad with England coach Roy Hodgson stating he will only take 100% fit players.
Wilshere’s injury will be a huge blow for Arsenal and their title challenge. (Getty Images)
Wenger has given the 22-year-old midfielder a few days off saying the injury is a “weight on his mind.”
“He [Wilshere] can only be very down, especially in the first few days,” said Wenger.
Wilshere is likely to return to action just a few weeks before Roy Hodgson names his World Cup squad on 13 May, but Wenger does not think that will jeopardize the midfielder’s place.
“A fracture is a fracture, it is not muscular or a ligament. Once it is healed, you do not have to have any restriction in your preparation. “
“You want to encourage him to go to the World Cup – to go to a World Cup for a player is immense, and I will do absolutely everything so that he can get there.”
EPL Week 29
|West Brom v Man Utd
|Cardiff v Fulham
|Crystal Palace v Southampton
|Norwich vs Stoke
|Chelsea v Tottenham
|FA CUP QUARTER FINALS
|Arsenal v Everton
|Sheffield Utd v Charlton
|Hull v Sunderland
|Man City v Wigan
Arsenal v Everton (FA Cup)
Saturday kicks-off with a humdinger of a game, as Arsenal face Everton in the FA quarterfinal.
Arsenal have looked jaded in recent weeks and lost 1-0 to Stoke away in the EPL last week. The gunners look like they have paid the price for failing to bring in players during the transfer window, though injuries to key plays have not helped.
Lukaku’s ® return to Everton has made a difference.. (Getty Images)
Everton bounced back from consecutive defeats with a good 1-0 win at home to West Ham. The Toffees looked like they were petering out, but the return of key players such as Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu seem to have given them a boost, and added some cutting edge to their side.
Ramsey (L) goals have been missed by Arsenal. (Getty images)
Arsenal will be without Jack Wilshere who will sit out with a fractured foot, while
Aaron Ramsey and Kim Kallstrom remain sidelined but could return next week.
Everton captain Phil Jagielka is doubtful with a hamstring problem, but fellow defender Antolin Alcaraz is ready to return after six games out with a muscle problem.
Arsenal have a good record against Everton and are unbeaten in their last 19 home games against the Toffees in all competitions (W15 D4), though the last two games have ended in a draw. These sides have dropped off the pace in recent weeks, but I still expect this game to be an exciting and a quality encounter.
West Brom v Man Utd
West Brom drew at home to Fulham in their last EPL game to continue new boss Pepe Mel’s wait for his first victory.
West Brom will be hoping to get their season back on track(Getty Images)
New boss Mel has tried to change the style of the Baggies and seems to have come up against a bit of resistance with reports of players moaning about his methods and tactics. All this is a far cry from when they played United earlier in the season winning at Old Trafford for their first time ever in the EPL. However, since its all been downhill for West Brom, first they sacked manager Steve Clarke, then failed to find a replacement—leaving the club without a full-time manager for a couple of months—and have now failed to win since 1 January.
Rooney’s new contract will hopefully lead to some stability within the dressing room. (Getty images)
Manchester United have not faired much better by their standards since that defeat and now face a real struggle to qualify for Europe next season. The Red Devils managed to win 2-0 away in their last EPL outing to Crystal Palace, but followed that victory with a poor performance in the Champions League where they were defeated 2-0 away to Olympiakos.
David Moyes still does not look like he has settled on his best eleven and it seems to be having an effect on United’s performances with the Red Devils really struggling for consistency.
West Brom will be without Billy Jones who has a hamstring injury, while Nicolas Anelka begins a five-match ban.
But Stephane Sessegnon could feature after recovery from groin surgery and Claudio Yacob should return after a hamstring injury.
Manchester United’s only fresh injury concern is forward Javier Hernandez, who is doubtful after limping out of Mexico’s friendly against Nigeria on Wednesday with a knee injury.
West Brom beat United at Old Trafford earlier in the season, but have not beaten the Red Devils at the Hawthorns since 2-0 defeat in March 1984. United are vulnerable this season, but they should win this one.
Cardiff v Fulham
This is perhaps the biggest game of the weekend as the EPL’s two bottom sides square off in a bid for survival.
Cardiff’s Bellamy has had a quiet season due to a combination of injuries and just not playing well. (Getty images)
Cardiff lost 1-0 away to Tottenham last week, but put in a good performance. New coach Solskjaer thinks his side needs five more wins to guarantee their safety in the EPL, but with only ten games left to play this season it seems unlikely they will get them.
Fulham’s new coach has set his side a similar target, but the Cottagers are playing so badly it is hard to see where they will get a win from. Their defense is the worst in the league and their attack is not much better—especially since they got rid of their two best strikers, Berbatov and Ruiz—which is the exact combination that gets you relegated.
Cardiff welcome back midfielder Jordon Mutch, who has recovered from a hamstring problem.
Fulham record signing striker Kostas Mitroglou could feature despite a slight hamstring problem and lack of match fitness, but Damien Duff, Scott Parker and Fernando Amorebieta are all ruled out.
Both these side desperately need a win to have any hopes of staying up, however, a loss could seal their fates, potentially meaning neither side will be too ambitious. But I think with so few games left to play both sides have to go for a win, and I’m backing Cardiff to win this one.
Chelsea v Tottenham
Another big game this week see west versus north, as London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham square off in a derby.
Chelsea have looked like the team to beat. (Getty Images)
Chelsea won 3-1 away to Fulham last week to remain top of the EPL. The Blues didn’t play particularly well, but once again managed to bag all three points. Another win would put Chelsea seven points clear of their nearest rivals Liverpool, and a whopping nine points ahead of Man City. City do have a game in hand and could draw level on points, but there would be massive pressure on them as they would know there is no room for failure.
Tottenham won 1-0 at home to Cardiff last week to keep their chances of qualifying for the Champions League alive. Spurs have been in pretty good form dropping only eight points out of a possible 30, but those ahead of them haven’t dropped points either making the north Londoners task a difficult one.
Chelsea’s only injury concern is Eden Hazard who hurt his ankle while on duty for Belgium, though he should feature.
Torres (L) was. involved in some controversy the last time these teams met. (Getty Images)
Tottenham playmaker Christian Eriksen may miss out with a back problem that ruled him out of Denmark’s defeat by England on Wednesday. While the fitness of defensive trio Kyle Walker, Younes Kaboul and Zeki Fryers will all be assessed.
Chelsea are in great form and are unbeaten in 13 league games, winning 10 of those matches—They and Liverpool are the only Premier League sides unbeaten in 2014. Spurs are in good form too, but they haven’t beaten Chelsea in their last 23 visits to Stamford Bridge in the league (L15, D8), plus three cup matches (L1, D2).
Man City v Wigan (FA Cup)
This game is a repeat of last years final where underdogs Wigan beat heavy favorites Man City 1-0.
Yaya Toure has been getting important goals for his club. (Getty Images)
That defeat ended a disappointing season for the big spending club from Manchester, who sacked manager Roberto Mancini shortly afterwards. Last week they won the League Cup final against Sunderland to put the disappointment of last years defeat at Wembley to bed, and help new coach Manuel Pellegrini win his first trophy in England.
City’s form and season looked to have faded recently, especially when they lost to Barcelona in the Champions League, but they looked near to their best against Sunderland, and the cup win could be the catalyst for more success to come.
Wigan endured a bitter sweet end to last season, suffering relegation shortly after their FA Cup win. Coach Roberto Martinez left to manage Everton, and new coach David Coyle was brought in to try and bring the Latics back up to the EPL. However, Coyle left the club by mutual consent in December following only seven wins from 23 games, and former Man City cult hero Uwe Rosler was brought in. Since then the Latics have been in decent form, progressing in the FA Cup, and moving into the play-off position in the Championship.
City are heavy favorites and should win this one comfortably, but the FA Cup is full of surprizes, so you never know.