Not a good week for results this week, with a win, a draw and three losses, but with Arminia getting the win, we’re back to no teams in the drop zone (though Arminia are still in the play off relegation spot).
Not bad for week 12…
Bundesliga: Arminia Bielefeld (5/6 on to be relegated) 2-1 at home to Mainz
After seven straight defeats in the league, Arminia badly needed a win, and with a run of mediocre teams coming down the line in their next few fixtures, getting some momentum in the run up to Christmas might be key to their survival this year.
This win dumped opponents Mainz into the relegation zone, and was most notable for a bustling performance from Japanese player Ritsu Doan, who scored a great solo goal and chipped in throughout.
That said, the opener for Arminia was a total fluke and they were fortunate to hold on at the end, but wins like this will be vital, and they’ll take it, especially when it breaks that losing streak.
Serie A: Spezia (1/4 on to go down) 1-2 at home to Lazio
I’m still a little bit in awe that team of the scale and budget of Spezia get to play regularly against the likes of Lazio, win or lose. Their start to the season has been outstanding, all things considered, placing Spezia above the likes of Parma, Fiorentina and Torino ten games in.
Relegation is going to be a threat until late in the season, at the very least, of course, but losing games like this is pretty much acceptable, all things considered.
Even better, this loss was really quite unfortunate. There was the clattering of the inside of Pepe Reina’s post, a couple of occasions when a tiny flick would have seen Spezia score, and the general better attacking opportunities across the game fell Spezia’s way. A difference in the quality of strikers, perhaps. But impressively competitive.
Premier League: Fulham (evens to go down) 0-2 at home to Man City
After getting a big win last week, this was never likely to be good for Fulham, and to be honest, they probably got off a bit lightly with a 2-0 loss to a team that has the capacity to absolutely annihilate the bottom half of the Premier League on their day.
Whatever your thoughts on City and the money-go-round, there’s no question that cash has bought them a fine team, and this game was essentially the De Bruyne and Sterling show, and over as a contest after the second goal a quarter of the way into the game.
This should have been a thrashing, in truth, but Man City’s finishing was a little off. For Fulham, these aren’t the games they should be worrying about.
FC Metz (1/6 on to go down), 1-3 at home to Lyon
I can’t lie, for a team that had been on such an incredible run (and the shortest odds team for relegation of all my five), I’m a bit disappointed to see Metz slip back into the bottom half of the French top tier, though losing to teams like Lyon is probably just part of life, I guess.
This one was dominated by Memphis Depay, who looks an absolute beast for Lyon, though the game was marred to some degree by a really trigger-happy referee.
Metz should have led, but made a mess of a first half penalty and were then annihilated either side of half time, really, as they couldn’t keep pace with their bigger rivals. Their goal was nothing but a late consolation.
La Liga: Elche CF (8/15 to go down), 0-0 away to Villareal
With the fading of Metz, Elche are now the best placed of my sides, sitting just inside the top half of La Liga, where they still have games on hand on some of the teams above them.
Staying up is looking comfortably enough, then, though they have become draw specialists recently, drawing half their games this season including the last four in a row.
This one, away to the stark yellow of Villareal, was so dull it warranted only 90 seconds of highlights, none of them really worth mentioning. Not a classic.
Played 53 Won 13 Drawn 15 Lost 25
Goals for 55 Goals against 80
Average score – 1.04-1.51