5 Things That Will Happen In March And Why
Heading deeper into 2013, March is a month where football campaigns are made and broken. Today on the blog Kevin Doocey gives us 5 things that will happen this month and why.
March is a month where a football manager earns his wages. January is long gone and whatever transfer business has been conducted (or not conducted in some cases), will have to suffice from now until the end of the season. It's do or die for teams chasing titles or sides hoping to avoid relegation.
However, if there is five things I would expect to happen in the month of March, here they are:
1. The Rise Of An Own Goal Villain
Have you ever sat down to watch Premier League Years and noticed that there is nearly always one guy on one of the relegated teams that can't do anything right? Last season, Bolton’s Paul Robinson was just one of many under-performers. Blackburn's Scott Dann contributed three own goals in the same season, which decimated Blackburn's chances of staying in the Premier League. Somehow, I think March will bring an own goal villain to the fore, one that could impact their club's survival.
From looking at the bottom three as it currently stands, Queens Park Rangers, Reading and Aston Villa make the unfortunate trio. Southampton and Wigan linger just above, and do not be surprised if we end up looking back at a certain Jos Hooiveld of newly promoted Southampton as the "Own Goal Villain". The unfortunate defender has already amassed three own goals to his name so far this campaign and it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the Dutchman will add to his woeful record and in turn throw his team into the dreaded relegation places.
The Odds: Southampton are currently best priced at odds of 4.00 with Betfred to be relegated this season.
2. The Rise Of A Lionheart
In the Premier League, more often than not the final round of fixtures determine a team's fate for teams in the relegation places. Take last year as a perfect example, QPR avoided the drop courtesy of Stoke City snatching a draw at home to Bolton Wanderers. The season before that saw an array of clubs battle it out on the final day, with Blackpool and Birmingham coming off the worst, and both were subsequently demoted to the npower Championship. This season is unlikely to be any different.
A quick look at the Premier League table and you'll see that very little separates 11th position all the way down to lowly 18th, in other words, anything can happen. However, a hero will arise among the clubs in the bottom five. Wigan Athletic may well need another run of form to make sure of their Premier League status next season, and do not be surprised if Franco di Santo starts to produce the goods. Reading need a strong finish to stay in the division too, but Adam le Fondre is more than willing to do his utmost. Southampton could look back at Rickie Lambert's mammoth performances at the end of the season as their divine saviour, or perhaps QPR will be lauding French Loci Remy for firing them safety?
Time will tell, but keep an eye out for the rise of a hero.
The Odds: QPR are currently best priced at odds of 3.75 with Ladbrokes to avoid relegation in 2013.
3. Multiple Record Smashing
March is a month which could live long in the memory of the Barclays Premier League. Not only is it looking likely that Alex Ferguson will record yet another championship title to add to his slightly impressive record, but there are other likelihoods that will occur in the month of March to make it a truly memorable one. I suppose you could narrow it down to five words: Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard.
Ryan Giggs has now made his 1000th professional career appearance. A truly remarkable record for a man who has succeeded in scoring in every Premier League season since it was founded.
The other record that is likely to smashed or at least equalled in March alone is Chelsea's all time goal scoring charts. Frank Lampard currently hovers on 199 goals, a single goal away from a mind boggling 200 for a midfielder, but also just four goals away from confirming himself as Chelsea’s leading goalscorer of all time. Pretty historic stuff awaits.
4. An Arsène Wenger Fightback
Arsenal as a club seem to take one step forward and four steps back. They lost their leading star in Robin van Persie to Manchester United in the summer, and despite the fact his indirect replacements in the form of Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, and Theo Walcott have actually scored a staggering 45 goals combined - Arsenal still lag five points behind the Champions League places, in fifth position. The season so far has seen the usual rigmarole of Wenger in, Wenger out, Wenger shake it all about kind of thing, but at the end of the day, the Frenchman is going nowhere (much like Arsenal's trophy ambition this year one might say).
However, as much as the media regurgitate the usual headlines of Wenger being close to the sack at the Emirates Stadium, the man will fight back and help his team secure vital wins to ease the usual pressure that surrounds his Arsenal career. Chelsea are a team still reeling from Roberto di Matteo's departure, and Arsenal have enough to grab another Champions League spot for the umpteenth time running.
It has been a season of building for the London outfit with new signings needing time to gel. Like any other campaign, I think we will see Wenger pull it out of the bag and secure Champions League football for another year, possibly pipping neighbours Spurs in the end.
The Odds: The Gunners are currently best priced at odds of 3.25 with BetVictor to complete a Top 4 finish in 2013.
5. Newcastle United's Flight to Midtable
Perhaps I'm a little biased when it comes to the north east giants that are Newcastle United, but I think we're a little too good to be down in the nether regions of the Premier League. It was always going to be hard to repeat the heroics of last season's 5th place finish, but never mind dropping out of the top 6, we have managed to put ourselves in contention for relegation. Only on Tyneside could something like that happen! However, I think March will bring new life to Newcastle United as a club.
The signings of Mathieu Debuchy, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran have helped claim some critical wins in the past month, and this next thirty one days should see the Magpies pick up enough points to mount a challenge for a strong Top 10 finish. With away trips to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Everton all out of the way, the final ten games in the Premier League should see NUFC rise out of their precarious current league position and nestle themselves somewhere midtable.
The Odds: Newcastle are currently best priced at odds of 3.75 with BetVictor to complete a Top 10 finish in 2013.
All in all, March is likely to bring us a concoction of goals, injuries, penalties, and records. We will get a clearer idea which teams are going to be battling it out to stay in the league till the final few fixtures.
Keep an eye out on the five expectations above, and see how the month of March unravels, it's sure to be a good one!
Kevin Doocey is a freelance football writer and the founder of the Newcastle United blog Tyne Time and is also a contributor to Football Digest.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinDoocey