Matthew Bugler would like to congratulate last week’s opposition Rob Harris on blowing him out of the water, 12 points to 4. No better way to restore normal order than by destroying Pompey fan Harrison Jones, then. This might get personal…
Everton- West Ham
Romelu Lukaku – the next Didier Drogba – found himself playing like the next Emile Heskey for about a month, before finally putting his team out of their misery by getting injured. That has left Everton’s strike force looking nearly as ropey as West Ham’s, but now both clubs have their main strikers (Lukaku and Carroll) back in their starting line up, so there is some semblance of a goal threat. Given that they’re at home, you’d expect Everton to dominate, despite West Ham’s recent rejuvenation.
To all the smug West Ham fans bragging about your side’s reversal in fortunes: this only means you get to keep Big Sam for at least another year. So plans can begin already for the 2014/15 relegation scrap eventually eased off by the return of Messiah-figure James Collins after a 5 month injury; a man who boasts the dual honour of being both ginger and bald.
Fulham are in big trouble and Chelsea are serious title contenders (whatever Mourinho tells us), so this should only go one way. It would appear that Eden Hazard is quite good at football, so losing the special Juan (apologies) has not made much of a difference to Chelsea’s probably-a-bit-too-good-midfield. Anything other than a comfortable Chelsea win would be a shock.
Fulham fans delude themselves into thinking that this is some kind of derby. In fact, Chelsea fans look down on their West London neighbours as a slightly annoying but ultimately loveable younger brother, who needs his hands held on the rocky path to winning football games. Ultimately, the stronger, more mature eldest brother will come through.
Newcastle somehow managed to scrape a win last week and that might just snap them out of their ‘pretty shocking phase’ and into their ‘borderline average phase’. Hull will still fancy this one, because they’ve suddenly realised that the likes of McGregor, Davies, Huddlestone, Livermore, Long and Jelavic actually make them a really decent team. There’s a distinct lack of Yohan Cabaye at Newcastle, but they’ve still got Loic Remy, and you wouldn’t bet against him grabbing a cheeky point or three.
Diehard supporters all over rejoice; you’re almost certain of another trip to Hull next season. Probably on a wet Tuesday night. For Newcastle, the next 11 games consists of an almost meaningless slog of chasing after loose balls and occasionally grabbing a win via a Shola Ameobi header. It’s not too early to dream of summer.
Poor old Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere. Fresh from facing Bayern Munich last week, they are going to have to deal with the sheer class of Jonathan Walters. Walters, who so effortlessly dribbles the ball out of play and blazes it deep into Northern Scotland each Saturday, probably makes most Stoke fans howl for the glory days of Rory Delap throw-ins and kicking the hell out of every opponent with the vaguest facade of a first touch (vis-a-vis 2010 Aaron Ramsey). Stoke have come on a bit since then, but Arsenal should be too strong, especially if Giroud has indeed starting scoring again. The Gunners have often done badly against Sunday League-ish football though, so maybe a return to good old Stoke hacking and Arsenal retaliation will ensue; Hughes will whinge, Wenger won’t see it. Lovely.
Stoke versus Arsenal. Man versus Nature. Country versus City. East versus West. In Saidian terms, Arsene Wenger’s construct of Stoke as an anti-football, throw-in loving machine is an imaginary one designed to perpetuate Arsenal’s identity of passing football purists. Or something. Third year Postcolonialism is hard.
Seems legit. (Said the Portsmouth fan).
Anything I said about West Ham fans being smug can go out the window. After Luke Shaw joined Messrs Lambert, Lallana and Rodriguez in the England squad, I’m feeling smugger than an eight year old flute player receiving the Star of the Week prize in front of class. Also, we always beat Liverpool.
Aston Villa- Norwich
Villa are going to thrash Norwich 0-0 in a dire game that will be last on Match of the Day. Punters will rather endure a lecture from Paul Lambert about the intricacies of being average in just about every regard, than watch the drivel that is going to be on show. Both keepers are pretty decent and both sets of strikers bring the words ‘banjo’ and ‘barn door’ to mind, so lets just say goals do not seem likely.
This is a match no-one wants to see. Not even Villa or Norwich fans. The most exciting point of interest in this dire affair is the chance to see Grant Holt face his former club, a man who has almost singlehandedly debunked the notion that you need to be fairly fit and skilful to cut it in the highest tier.
Swansea- Crystal Palace
Tony Pulis is about as cool as falling off the Timepiece ledge, but under his watchful guidance Palace have gone from whipping boys to lower-to-mid table obscurity boys. With a bunch of newly gelled signings, they should give Swansea a tough test, but Bony et al will back themselves to win at home and send Palace back down to the Doncaster away days of old.
It will be quite the comedown for the Swans after vising the land of pizza and Caecilius on Thursday night. Nothing like getting off the plane having been surrounded by beautiful Italians to be greeted with the sight of baseball hat wearing, full tracksuit-clad Tony Pulis staring menacingly at you. Oh, England.
Turns out, Tottenham actually aren’t that good. They seem to habitually grab defeat from the jaws of victory and perennially underachieve. Nonetheless, No Nonsense Tim’s side should comfortably beat a dodgy looking Cardiff , then rave about how good they are after overcoming the favourites for relegation.
Cardiff are almost embarrassed at being in the Premier League now; they’re depriving a Bournemouth or an Ipswich at having a shot at the big time. As they meekly shuffle out the room, Tottenham continue their quest to be quite good but not that good really in the grand scheme of things.bookmark me