Poor old Ireland eh? Thierry Henry’s left hand on Wednesday night put an end to the Green Army’s dream of following their national team to the World Cup, and condemned them to yet another summer of drinking bottles of cider in picturesque countryside taverns that border acres of beautiful apple orchards. Or so Magners would have us believe…
Oh well, at least they can turn their attentions back to the Premier League this weekend, where their most cherished top flight English team will continue their fine unbeaten ru… oh… right… that’s Liverpool isn’t it? Never mind then.
I’m not really doing a very good job at cheering the Irish up, so I’ll get on with my predictions. Same form as usual. Beat me and you win a tenner*.
Birmingham vs Fulham
I was happy to see that I predicted yet another correct outcome involving Liverpool in the last round of Premier League fixtures. I haven’t got anything against Liverpool, but I saw Birmingham going to Anfield, defending for their lives (as they have done all season), and getting something. However, my prediction was probably more based on Liverpool not having a clue this season, and the fact that they still have Lucas in their midfield.
What I didn’t see coming though was The Blues scoring two goals, and Alicia Keys lookalike Cameron Jerome pinging one in from 30 yards. However, I can live with that because Jose Reina didn’t see it coming either, and I guess it was more important for him to be ready for Jerome’s strike than me.
Apart from their dancing badger, there’s not much you can say about Fulham. Whilst I was waiting for my breakfast last Sunday I was given a complimentary paper to read (presumably whilst the pub’s manager attempted to get the Gap year student to stop going for fag breaks and actually cook the full English I had ordered – he failed), and I stumbled across a quote from Roy Hodgson saying that he hoped Fulham fans realise that there is a ceiling on what the club can achieve.
Whilst he is 100% correct about that, it sort of highlights the problem with reviewing them. Yes, they’ll have a game every week. Yes, I’ll have to think of something to say. However with no ambition, there’s no real excitement. Just a freak season once in a while where they’ll either have a relegation dog fight, or they’ll break into the top seven and get a place in a competition that noone cares about, (even if it earns them a few extra quid, offers their fans a few European city breaks).
This season they’ll finish comfortably in mid-table again, which means that their recent success needs to be balanced up with a defeat this weekend. So that’s what I’ve gone for.
Burnley vs Aston Villa
Burnley are a Championship side punching above their weight in the Premier League. Them’s the fact ladies and gents. If they didn’t have the support of all those blokey-looking women in the home crowd scaring the opposition’s wide players, they’d be relegated already and wiping the tears away with their bingo-wings.
Anyway, they DO have that support, and their home form is why they are still afloat (although if Turf Moor was flooded, the players be able to stay afloat just by grabbing one of the massive buoyancy aids sitting in the stands).
This game therefore should be made all the more interesting by that fact. However, in spite of Villa’s pretty indifferent form of late, I think they’ll win this one easily. The wingers are the reason, and they have two of them in Ashley Young and James Milner who are bang on form right now. If they can avoid the Medusan-like effect of looking directly at the female Burnley fans whilst hugging their touchlines, then I fully expect them to tear The Clarets apart.
Chelsea vs Wolves
If there was ever a home-win to put your house on, this is it**.
The only way Wolves can win is if they, as previously mooted on Eddies Football Blog, put out a team of real wolves that end up killing and feasting on the entire Chelsea team. However, even if they did that they’d be more than likely to still only get a draw, as I don’t think packs of wolves care much for scoring goals.
Hull vs West Ham
Last week I must have sent good karma out to Phil Brown with my emotional appeal to keep him in his job at Hull. Not only did they win their game against Stoke, but the man who popped up with the winner may well have inadvertently boosted the Geordie crooner’s transfer budget for the January window.
That’s right; sales of replica shirts with Jan Vennegoor Of Hesselink printed on the back have soared following his injury time strike and, at £1 per letter, that’ll be a nice tidy sum come the end of 2009. Enough to buy Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker from Borussia Monchengladbach perhaps.
It’s a novel approach, but then so is having your half-time team-talk in the middle of the pitch. He’s a pioneer, that Brownie.
By contrast, West Ham ‘ave gone and found themselves a spot of bovva. Tree-trunk legged striker Dean Ashton is expected to retire from football imminently, which is a real shame for the club, the player, and English football in general. The person who will benefit from Ashton’s retirement is World Cup hopeful Carlton Cole, but he must be getting tired of having to do it all on his own.
As a result, The Hammers will have to get Cole to form a partnership with their suggestible Italian Allessandro Diamanti, and will therefore be hoping that the Hull fans don’t all learn the Italian for ‘miss!’ by tomorrow afternoon. Expect an entertaining dogfight though, but obviously without any real dogs (unless a plucky Hammer manages to smuggle his Staffy into the ground, and it ends up getting into a scuffle with Stephen Hunt).
Liverpool vs Man City
What did I say when I started this whole Premier League predictions thing? Well, I gave you all certain rules to abide by, didn’t I? Certain criteria for aiding you in your conquest, if you will. However, I also said that if you are Mark Lawrenson you must, at all costs, write an indescribably biased prediction in favour of Liverpool.
The Reds go into this weekend with the following form in the last 9 games (in all competitions) – LLLLWLLDD. Despite Gerrard’s return, they are without key striker Fernando Torres, and play a Man City side who have only lost one game in all competitions all season (against Man Utd), and sitting nicely above them in the league. This is why i find the following from ‘Lawro’ the most hilarious piece of biased piffle I have seen in a long time…
“The good news for Liverpool is that it looks like Steven Gerrard has got himself fit, although I’m not sure that Fernando Torres will make this one. Manchester City had four players starting for England last week so it’s not as if they’ve had a rest and that could be a factor.
I think Manchester City now have players capable of taking the game to Liverpool and that might suit the home side as a lot of teams go to Anfield and shut up shop. But this could be an open game and Liverpool will like that. “
So, not only has he turned the potent threat of Man City’s attacking options into an advantage for Liverpool (when, in reality, they will have haunted Jamie Carragher’s dreams this week), but he is also claiming that City’s top-class athletes will need more rest after a game they played 7 bloody days earlier!
This, my friends, is exactly what I was on about. It’s safe to say that I don’t agree with him in the slightest.
Man Utd vs Everton
This is traditionally a big game, and a game in which Everton I’m sure would want to give a good account of themselves. However, with 11 of their first team players either with knocks or long term injuries, it has turned into a fixture in which David Moyes’ men will just defend in numbers and hope for a point.
With captain Phil Neville absent, a player all too used to winning games at Old Trafford, Everton’s midfield will be outclassed and I can see a United getting three points. Not an easy three points. Or a pretty three points. But three points nonetheless. As Ian Holloway once put it, in gentlemen’s terms, it’ll be like going out and pulling a bird who isn’t the prettiest but, sod it, you’ll still take her home.
Sunderland vs Arsenal
A really interesting match-up.
Sunderland got mugged last time out against Spurs. Plain and simple. They should have won that game, but for the first time this season they showed their wastefulness in front of goal. They also missed the battering-ram presence of Kenwyne Jones.
If you were to fault Arsenal this season, you could justifiably point a finger at their inability to deal with aerial balls into the box, so they will be relieved to hear that the somersaulting powerhouse is still serving a suspension. However, it is still a weakness that Bruce will target.
That said, Cesc ‘Harry Potter’ Fabregas is in the form of his life, and he will have been rubbing his hands in anticipation after viewing the amount of space that Tom Huddlestone was allowed at White Hart Lane by Sunderland’s midfield. Expect Mackems captain Lorik Cana to return with typical hatchet-man style to remedy that, and make things difficult for the Spaniard (unless, of course, he’s still drunk, and staggering around in his pants somewhere in Algeria).
With Van Persie out for Arsenal, this one is very nicely balanced. I’ll go for a high-scoring draw.
* N.B. You won’t actually win a tenner. I lied in order to get you involved. I’m sorry. Here’s a tenner to compensat… Balls. I’m at it again. I better stop now before I offer you the keys to my house.
** N.B. If Chelsea don’t win, and you did end up taking my off the cuff remark as actual advice, then you’re an idiot. However, if you need to crash on my sofa for a couple of days whilst you find somewhere new to live, then fine. Just don’t try to sue me. Or drink the beer in my fridge.
Check back tomorrow for my predictions for Sunday’s games (including the weekly 0-0, if you were wondering where it was!)