As we get towards the midde of the seasonm the same teams seem to be struggling and suceeding from amid my army of long shots. Metz continue to charge. Fulham falter. Here’s the latest…
FC Metz 2-0 v Nantes at home, 8th place
Nantes great run now represents their best first 20 or so games of the season since the 90s – not bad for a team that were heavily odds on to go down.
This one saw Nantes in control in the early stages, though there was little in the way of chances at either end. Metz took over towards half time, scoring a goal that looked offside to take the lead.
From then on it was tit for tat for most of the second half, with a piledriver of a second for Metz late on to confirm the points and lift them to a season-high of 8th. No risk of relegation here.
Arminia Bielefeld1-5 v Eintracht Frankfurt, 15th place
After a vital win last week, Arminia should have been on a bit of a high as they looked to push away from the drop zone. Instead, they struggled badly against a rejuvinated Eintracht Frankfurt.
In fairness this did mark Frankfurt’s fifth consecutive win, but Arminia did themselves no favours, with pretty disasterous defending for at least two of the five goals.
The return of Jovic to Frankfurt from Real Madrid is a definite one to watch – he looks like he might even edge them towards the Champions League places. For Arminia, though, the second half of the season looks like being a struggle. With a bit of luck recent form will help them away from the danger zone.
Fulham 0-0 v Brighton, 18th place
After a poor run against sides who, in fairness, were always likely to beat them, Fulham came into this game against relegation rivals Brighton with an opportunitiy to bridge the gap.
As far as 0-0 draws go, this was a pretty good one. Both sides could have scrambled winners at various stages, including Fulham having a last minute Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot cleared off the goal line by Lewis Dunk.
A win would have been harsh on Brighton, though. Fulham will have another chance to close the gap against West Brom at the weekend. They have a bit of quality, but they’re going to need to start taking them: they’re currently in line for just 26 points.
Spezia 3-4 v Roma, 15th place
Oddly Spezia’s week involved two games at Roma, a win in the cup 3-0, and then this loss in the league. They then crashed out of the Coppa Italia with a weakened team, 4-2 away at Napoli.
Of course, I’m concentrating on the league, and so a thrilling game with Roma. Spezia never looked like getting anything out of this rally until they suddenly equalised late on against the run of play.
Roma then won it with the very last kick of hte game, which felt a little bit harsh, but was probably the right result. With the Coppa Italia – which they clearly saw a distraction – out of the way, face a game that could be the difference between a relegation battle and relative safety, with off-form Udinese up next.
Elche CF 0-2 at home to Barcelona, 19th place
After a great start, Elche have slipped to the lowest place of my teams, though they are far closer to safety than Fulham, and still have those couple of games in hand.
With Barcelona coming together after a really poor start (they’re not third, Elche were briefly above them earlier in the season), perhaps this result was an inevitable one to chalk off.
Barcelona still look very far from their best, and Elche could have grabbed an equaliser off a defensive mistake if it hadn’t been for Ter Stiegan. They didn’t deserve anything from this, though. Some easier games to come.
Overall stats (all five teams):
Played 95 Won 22 Drawn 30 Lost 43
Goals for 108 Goals against 135
Average score – 1.14-1.42