They say it’s the hope that kills you, and there’s starting to be a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for some of my weakest teams. Bielefeld and Spezia both got results against really top sides this week, while Fulham closed the gap on safety with an unlikely away win at in-form Everton. There have definitely been worse weeks…
Arminia Bielefeld 3-3 away to Bayern Munich
I loved this game. Played in the snow in a way that would often result in a game being called off, it saw Arminia looks, for a while, like they might overturn the team that win the German league so consistently it’s become boring.
Bayern were just home from winning the club world cup in the Middle East, of course, but it was a lad on loan from Anderlecht who put the visitors into an unlikely lead after nine minutes, which they then doubled.
Bayern looked useless in the snow, and a lot stronger in the opening 30 minutes of the second half once it had been cleared, with the score going to 3-1 in Arminia’s favour before the Bavaraians turned on the style, but not quite enough to win it. A valuable point for Arminia, who are now level with a fading Hertha Berlin with a game in hand. Only their third draw all season, remarkably.
Spezia 2-0 at home to AC Milan
Looking at the two opponents at the top of this week’s entry, I really expected it to be a bad week for my little sides. Not at all so. Spezia, who’ve been pretty poor at home all season, only went and got one over title-chasing AC Milan, to reach a lofty 13th place.
The fact that this was the very first time Spezia had ever hosted Milan gives an idea of the rise this little club have had, but regardless Spezia were well in the game throughout, conceding only a few headed chances in the entire first half but looking dangerous on the break.
They took the lead in the second half, a scrambled but well-worked effort, before a really clever reworked free kick that got slammed in at the far post, causing a fantastic grimace from a certain Mr Ibrahimovic. What an incredible win, given the disparity between the two sides.
Fulham 2-0 away to Everton, and 1-1 at home to Burnley
I’ll own up, I wrote off Fulham last week, and after this I’m not so sure. Newcastle are really flaky, and if Fulham keep picking up points, there’s a real chance they can close what’s now a relatively manageable gap.
First up, Everton, a game in which you’d have thought, given Everton’s form this season, Fulham would be big underdogs. Everton were really poor here, but you can only beat what’s in front of you, and the addition of Josh Maja up front looks like a coup for Fulham. They impressed (I have a soft spot for Maja after seeing him on Sunderland Til I Die, seems a good lad).
The Everton game was probably Fulham’s best performance of the season – dominant, and they could have won by more without it being an unfair reflection. Great to see.
The Burnley game was a real chance to close the gap at the bottom, and one that Fulham might live to regret. They were probably a touch lucky to get a draw all things considered, though, with Burnley dominating the first half but failing to make a breakthrough, and teams exchanging scrappy second half goals. A point is a point, I suppose.
The three games without defeat for Fulham doesn’t quite match that long run of draws earlier in the season, but comes at a more important time.
Elche CF 1-3 away to Celta Vigo
Elche’s awful run and fall from mid-table continues as they looked more than a little bit toothless here. Celta Vigo are having a good season, and this was always going to be a tough one, but that gap to safety is starting to appear, and Elche have a few tougher games on the way.
This wasn’t a particularly close game: Celta Vigo took their chances, Elche created the odd few but essentially didn’t do a whole lot with them, apart from a tap in that came from some defensive scrambling from the home team.
As it stands, I don’t rate their chances: form is simply awful, and will need to change dramatically.
Metz 1-2 at home to Strasbourg
I had a vested interest in this one, as my team Aston Villa have sent back up left back Frederic Guillbert to Strasbourg, something I happen to think is a mistake (and low and behold, he sets up the winner on his debut).
Metz were very much the better side in the early stages, and had more than enough chances to get something out of this, but just didn’t seem to have much in the way of resistence to the Strasbourg forward line.
A disappointing loss, but it’s hard to fault them all things considered this season.