After a shocking 4-0 defeat to Sam Buxey last week, whispers abound that the Great Predictor is in decline. Bugler looks to arrest these rumours by putting the young pretender Alex Bonner in his place. At least there’s a full schedule this week:
Hull- Man City
The juggernaut that is Man City will bounce back from their high profile exit from the Champions League. Pellegrini will pull off all the stops to overcome a difficult opponent in Hull City, and will probably field his strongest team as a means of achieving this. Hull pulled off a blinder against Sunderland in the FA cup on Sunday, meaning their players are still probably suffering from hangovers. Expect a tightly fought contest, with City likely to come out on top.
Hull’s run to the FA Cup semi-finals, where they should overcome League One minnows Sheffield United, coupled with likely Premier League survival, means that they’re actually having a better season than my own Southampton. I’m not still bitter about that weakened team versus Sunderland in the 5th round, promise. City have found themselves a bit short on the fit striker front, and in walking-calamity Martin Demichelis they have a man slower than the average sloth on a day trip round Kew Gardens.
Cardiff’s defence looks extremely dodgy at the moment, meaning Everton should have no problems in front of goal. Expect the Toffees to continue their superb form at home with a win against a distinctly average Cardiff team. The Bluebirds pulled off a rare win against bottom side Fulham last week, but Everton are an altogether different beast. Expect Lukaku to bang in a few, which shouldn’t be too hard considering how appalling Cardiff’s defence are.
Everton have faced the ignominy in recent weeks of being overtaken by Manchester United, meaning that even the romantic possibilities of Thursday night trips to Maccabi Tel Aviv next season are in doubt. Cardiff, despite being the worst Premier League team of the last five years, are somehow only goal difference away from safety. It’s been a great relegation scrap this year.
Fulham have looked, to put it lightly, awful in recent weeks. They remain rooted at the bottom of the league, and look likely to stay there for the foreseeable future. Newcastle, on the other hand, have had a pretty appalling week as well, after Pardew decided to headbutt Hull City’s David Meyler. Expect a response from the Toon, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cheick Tioté take matters in own hands, and get sent off in the process.
Fulham have lost a frankly shocking 20 of their 29 games this season. This is what happens when you rely too much on Steve Sidwell, a man with more determination for a single cause than a rugby boy at Timepiece on a Wednesday night, yet with similar amounts of technical ability. A draw represents a satisfying yet uninspiring result for all involved.
This fixture doesn’t fill me with excitement, as both teams will probably be content with a draw. Southampton remain eleven points clear of West Ham, but eleven points off a Europa League spot. The Saints, despite all their credentials, remain a classic mid-table team. Hughton seems to be under pressure every match, and a loss here will not please Delia Smith. Southampton will probably win, but don’t expect an exciting match.
Saints continue to plod along, winning the plaudits of several pundit idiots like Michael Owen and Robbie Savage, who were a bit slow to cotton on to the fact that they play good football. Jack Cork’s injury means that Victor Wanyama steps in, and will try to continue developing his central midfield career from the one attribute he has: scaring people by looking at them.
Stoke- West Ham
Wow this fixture looks dull. Both teams, despite Mark Hughes’ best efforts, like to use the long ball, meaning this fixture will probably produce the worst quality of football this weekend. Both teams are comfortably above the relegation sports, meaning they’ll both likely be content with a draw. Let’s hope there’s a sending off during the game to provide some partial excitement for both sets of fans.
One for the purists. Stoke’s energetic, high pressing game meets West Ham’s meticulous dominance of ball possession and midfield generalling. One just feels that Stoke’s plans to run amok with their attacking trident will go awry against the mentally draining chess-football of West Ham, led by Mohamed Diamé, their very own Andrea Pirlo.
Sunderland- Crystal Palace
This match has all the makings of a relegation classic. Don’t expect it though; Sunderland are likely to still be upset following their loss in both the Capital One Cup and FA Cup. Crystal Palace play like how any Tony Pulis team play, meaning there will be few chances at either end. Sunderland need to win, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they play all their strikers this match, just don’t expect them to score lots of goals. I see Sunderland winning, but through controversial circumstances.
Every time one of these sides makes an attempt for daylight they get clawed back into the slimy grunge of the relegation zone. Gus Poyet seems a thoroughly disagreeable man, and would love a rant about the state of modern football in the pub over some pork scratchings with Man of the People Tony Pulis. The threat of being on the Football League Show next season is a terrifyingly real prospect for both sides.
Swansea- West Brom
Garry Monk has settled in well as manager of Swansea. The same, however, cannot be said of Pepe Mel. West Brom still haven’t won under him, meaning it will be miracle if they can get anything from this fixture. Swansea, known as the Barcelona of Wales, will dominate possession and have a majority of the chances, meaning West Brom will find life particularly difficult in Wales. Swansea won’t get relegated; West Brom, on the other hand, are looking likely for the drop.
West Brom weren’t happy with Cardiff and Fulham taking all the plaudits for being really rubbish this season, so embarked on a stealthy run of one win in 18. In terms of managerial ability, Pepe Mel looks less Pep Guardiola and more Peppa Pig, and will struggle against the slick hair of Gary Monk and co.
Aston Villa- Chelsea
I’m a big fan of Mourinho, he knows how to win. Chelsea look imperious at present, meaning this result is likely to go only one way. Aston Villa love playing on the counter attack, meaning they will probably sit back, to their peril, against Chelsea. Aston Villa haven’t been that great this season, due to their ability to be horribly inconsistent at the best of times. The Blues should win, but expect some trouble from the beast that is Benteke.
It depresses me that Aston Villa, a team devoid of excitement, are virtually safe, while Chelsea, managed by someone who despises excitement, will likely win the league. How I look through rose-tinted spectacles to the glory days of 2007, when these two shared a 4-4 draw at the Bridge. Football’s just lost its magic.
Man United- Liverpool
This fixture has so much history, and I am thoroughly looking forward to it. Moyes seems a bit lost at the moment; he doesn’t know what his strongest team is, and he doesn’t know what tactics to use. United’s defence looks particularly shoddy, and I expect the dynamic duo that is Sturridge and Suarez to capitalise on this. I can’t see United getting anything from this fixture, which will only achieve in heaping even more pressure on David Moyes’ vulnerable shoulders.
Forget that BS about losing its magic, an enthralling Super Sunday means that my ailing dissertation will go on hold for an afternoon of pints and football. Moyes has got a bit excited over a win at West Brom, and will release the Cleverley from the bag against a Liverpool side with more leaks in their defence than the average student house in Exeter.
Another great fixture; this Sunday will certainly be super if you’re a footballing fan. Sherwood doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but he’s done a pretty decent job so far as Tottenham’s manager. Arsenal might actually win a trophy this season, in the form of the FA Cup, but I expect them to trip up in fixtures like this. Arsenal were poor in both their Champions League matches, but I expect them to bounce back in jubilant fashion with a draw at the Lane.
Tim Sherwood wouldn’t look out of place on Streatham Campus with that gilet of his, and continues to look forlornly up at the League Tables just like, er, Exeter Uni. Arsenal should sneak this courtesy of some deep-lying playmaking by the architectural Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is the latest of players that Arsene Wenger sees the need to arbitrarily change position mid-career.bookmark me