I NOTICED that Arsene Wenger, the ex-Arsenal manager, was back in England for some reason this week.

He turned up, unexpectedly to the crowd, before Arsenal’s recent game on Boxing Day and was shown on the big screen taking his seat in the directors’ box. He got a fantastic welcome from the fans.

It was bound to happen as his record there was terrific. Ironically, the date he came back, the current Arsenal team extended their lead at the top of the current league table after a 3-1 win over West Ham.

Looking at the top of the league, of the top half dozen, there are a few small surprises at this early stage.

I always put Liverpool and Everton in there together, but Liverpool are just on the edge in sixth place at present and for Everton you have to carry on all the way down to fourth from bottom.

Frank Lampard, the Everton manager, is apparently under huge pressure and needs to have a good run to keep his job.

Looking to see which club has maybe taken their place in the top six, surprise, surprise it’s Newcastle.

They are third from top, which obviously pleases me greatly for more than one reason. Having come from that area, but also the current manager, Eddie Howe, used to be in our area down here in Bournemouth.

I got to know him quite well in those days and I am delighted he has done so well. Due respects to Bournemouth, which is a very nice club, anyone going to Newcastle has got to be able to handle crowds of about 60,000, which on a matchday sound double of that.

If they’re not doing well, they’ll let you know. At the minute he’s obviously getting lots of praise and rightly so.

Looking at the points mind, they might be third, but the team on top, Arsenal, have seven points more and have played a game less.

So full marks to Eddie Howe. He will certainly be rewarded if they were to finish in that position as there was lots of sadness over the years when none of the North East clubs were getting into Europe and had to take vocal criticisms from southern crowds when playing each other.

I suppose talking of league positions, unfortunately we have to mention Saints. Sadly they are keeping everyone else up at the moment because of their result against Brighton.

The crowd certainly let Nathan Jones know how they felt. But, to be fair, there are still many games to play and Saints’ position obviously does not look good, but there are just five points between the bottom eight clubs.

A couple of wins at the right time could make things look a lot easier.

But starting off in the New Year obviously is the time you need to be looking at the top places, rather than over your shoulder at the bottom.

I’ll keep watching how Eddie gets on. He will probably be looking further down the table at his ex-club Bournemouth, who are in the bottom eight.

But it is early days and there are not too many points separating the teams and with three points for a win these days, you can quite easily change the league position.

I will certainly be having fingers crossed for Saints, obviously, Eddie Howe and Frank Lampard, who I always got on well with.

Whilst Christmas time is normally the time for celebrations and happiness, one sad bit of news that has hit the sport headlines was the passing away of George Cohen.

He was a legend at Fulham, where Saints visit today. He spent his whole career there, even though there were many opportunities for him having been picked for England as well, to possibly move to bigger clubs.

It was interesting to see when the London derby match, Fulham at Crystal Palace after the news came out, showed the wonderful respect from players of both teams with his name on their shirts etcetera and the whole crowd paying their respects.

He was a player who had many opportunities to move to some of the so-called bigger clubs but stuck by Fulham.

He deserved the respect he got in that last game.

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