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The Mail Bag

Still Top Ten after the New Year?

Comments (12)

Looking at our fixture list (and those round about us) I would be interested to know your thoughts on where we realistically might be placed after the Christmas / New Year fixtures?

8 matches of which 6 are League games, to be played over 24 days from Saturday 8th December.

Ignoring the European and Carling Cup games, from here on in we have to play Fulham (h), West Ham,(a) Man Utd. (a), Bolton (h), Arsenal (h), Middlesbrough (a)

Personally I think I would be happy if we could retain 9th and stay in touch with top 6. Any better offers?
Steve Woods, Scotland     Posted 02/12/2007 at 17:07:26

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Caron Jôs
1   Posted 02/12/2007 at 18:15:12

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We should be looking for victory over Fulham and Bolton at home. Away games to West Ham and Middlesbrough are always tricky but we will all be hoping for the three points there. Arsenal at home, what can I say, a repeat of last season? Arsenal at home will be an interesting game. Man United away is always tricky, but we have taken a point from Stamford Bridge so why cant we take one from Old Trafford.

I would like to see us still in touch with the top 5, we’re just going to have to wait and see. COYB!!
Alex Baker
2   Posted 02/12/2007 at 19:14:43

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Arse and Man Ure games are hard, but I would be looking for at least 7pts from the others, and probably more.
Mike Oates
3   Posted 02/12/2007 at 19:37:15

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Steve , I wrote an article about 3 weeks ago called Reality Check, where I stated December was the true month to gauge our credentials.

Its absolutely key we do well in December as we face Jan and Feb with potentially 8 matches each month if we qualify for the next rounds of the Carling, UEFA and FA Cups and we will be WITHOUT are 4 African players for probably 6 weeks during this period.
We have to ensure we pick up all maximum points at home in December and try to sneak at least 1 away win if not 2.

Portsmouth will be in a similar position to us with their numerous African players but Blackburn and Aston Villa wont loose many players and I’m sure at best the 5th and 6th positions will be between these 4 teams, and dont forget these other 3 arent in Europe
We need a good December.
Brian Noble
4   Posted 02/12/2007 at 19:58:33

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We?ll be 8th. Best we can hope for after Xmas and end of season. We can?t beat anybody in the top half ? Moyes has found his true level. Fact!
Jack Roche
5   Posted 02/12/2007 at 20:03:14

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Looking to take about 10 points from them games. We took 1 from Chelsea so why can?t we take one from Man Utd?
David Moore
6   Posted 02/12/2007 at 20:08:09

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I seriously think that we can get 16 points out of those games. The only game I think we can?t win is Man Utd away. I would be happy if we got 10 points but any less I would be dissapointed.
Brendan McLaughlin
7   Posted 02/12/2007 at 20:34:20

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I don’t think we have a realistic chance of taking 16 points from those six games. Ten points or close to it would be a reasonable haul. If we can draw level with those teams currently three points ahead of us I would be more than satisfied. This should set us up nicely for a new year battle for the upper reaches of the premiership
Ben Jones
8   Posted 02/12/2007 at 21:30:31

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Mike.. you have a good point.. but you have forgotten about Man City.. who are above all the teams you have mentioned.. so it is now more vital to gain maximum points in Decemeber because it is a 5 horse race for two places.
Chris James
9   Posted 02/12/2007 at 22:00:22

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Personally, I think 10 points is a fair ambition (wins over Bolton, Fulham and Boro and a point at West Ham).

Much as I’d love to be proved wrong I don’t think any sensible prediction can include us expecting anything from Arsenal or Man Utd (yes I do know that we could beat anyone on our day, but predictions have to be based on averages surely).

If we could manage the above with UEFA Cup progression and sneak a win in the Carling Cup I’d be bloody over the moon.

If we did get 10 league points we’d still be in serious contention for a UEFA Cup finish (5th or 6th) come January.

As for the bigger picture of end of season I think Blackburn and Villa are going to be our main challengers for those places.
Portsmouth will most certainly have a major wobble in early 08 (as they and all ’Arry’s sides have in just about every season), the likes of West Ham and barcodes are just too inconsistent and I see Man City very much as that surprise team who’s up top in October/November but will fade increasingly as the season progresses...regardless of how much the Thai dictator spends. Sure Sven has done incredibly well so far, but they have had a fair number of lucky results edged by a late goal, their away form is poor and so far they’ve not been hit by injuries to core players.

Ultimately I think we could finish 6th this year, probably at the expense of Blackburn but that’s only IF we can keep Cahill, Arteta and Carsley on the park 90% of the time (of course the more competitions we stay in the harder that will be). Good as Osman and Pieenar can be on their day without that trio our midfield lacks balance and bite.
That said if you offered me top 10 plus a tin pot with UEFA, FA or even Carling inscribed on it I’d snap your arm off!
Steve Woods
10   Posted 02/12/2007 at 23:42:22

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Thanks to you all for your thoughts. It seems there is some realistic consensus of opinion that around 10 points is what we should expect over the period and I would expect that if IF we get them that our postion come the 2nd match in January should be about where we are now, 9th.

Mike, I read and agreed with your article a few weeks ago and was just waiting on current progress to see how we had performed up until now, the start of December. As ever alot depends on how the likes of Portsmouth, Villa and Blackburn continue and we should not forget West Ham. If we should drop all 3 points to them in a couple of weeks then they too are right in the hunt.

In short I suppose what this is all pointing to is that the top 10 competition this year is harder than ever. So therefore UEFA places tougher still. We need to maintain current form, keep fingers crossed that players stay fit while the squad is depleted during the Africas Cup. Trust that teams around us start to wobble and get beaten by ourselves (something we have yet to manage)

I agree with you Chris, at this stage a top ten (8th ?) finish together with a tin pot of some description plus another good cup run would be a good season.

By the way does anybody know if topping the fair play league still merits a Euro’ place? If so we are in with a shout there too............
Mark Perry
11   Posted 03/12/2007 at 11:29:00

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Dont forget the Inter-toto if we do finish 7-8 as well, which I would think we should jump at.
Steve Woods
12   Posted 03/12/2007 at 12:58:17

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You are right Mark I had forgotten about the Inter-Toto and yes something else to be jumped at if needed!

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