As another week draws to a close, the excitement of football begins again. Friday, to a football fan, is only exciting because it’s the day before Saturday. This weekend is also exciting for me beyond sporting matters – I am basking in my newfound credibility as a formal contributor to this blog, having emerged from the shadows of the comments sections.
You can expect some half-decent analysis on English and Spanish football and occasionally other less civilised leagues, mixed with a smattering of features on broader football issues that are either controversial or under-researched. It won’t be boring, I promise!
But for today, let me keep it straightforward. Football is a business as much as it is a sport – and as with any business there is a need to predict as well as a bizarre pride taken in correctly predicting things. So, I’ll get straight to giving you my predictions for this weekend’s round of Premier League matches:
Chelsea v Sunderland
Chelsea simply have too much depth in defence, so expect a clean sheet. Sunderland have been playing quite naively of late while for Chelsea Deco is back and Lampard in his best ever form.
Chelsea to win 3-0.
Everton v Fulham
Everton have shifted up a gear, not to a particularly high one, but last month they didn’t even remember how the gearshift worked. They can’t keep a clean sheet, but Fulham are atrocious away from home. Don’t watch this game.
Everton to win 2-1.
Manchester United v Hull City
All the underperforming teams are shifting gears upwards, and United are really heading towards top speed. Sometimes at Old Trafford it’s almost too easy – this could get embarrassing for Hull City if they aren’t careful. United will slack off and probably concede one brilliant goal – a Geovanni free kick maybe? This will be the game of the weekend.
Manchester United to win 4-1.
Middlesbrough v West Ham
What a truly awful game this will be.
A boring 1-1 draw.
Portsmouth v Wigan
Portsmouth are solid at home, but Tony Adams is likely to persist with a defensive mentality even if both Defoe and Crouch play. Amr Zaki may be the league’s top scorer, but Wigan are not yet playing that well. Still, they are well organised and may win this. Also, football is a funny old game.
Wigan to win 2-1.
Stoke v Arsenal
My dear Arsenal will probably play football to make Johan Cruyff proud: flowing, passing, contemplating, playing, passing, conceding, scoring, conceding and scoring again. The great Dutchman preferred 6-5 to 1-0, and with our below-par centre backs we really have no choice in the matter. Arsenal will probably get really mad at an early goal Stoke score from a set piece – and there will probably be a red card somewhere in this game.
Arsenal to win 4-2.
Tottenham v Liverpool
Ah yes, ‘Arry’s To’enham ‘Otspur. Liverpool are a shocking team to me – they will not win the title, let that be very clear. Watch out for Luka Modric, he will keep Mascherano busy. As much as I hate to say it, Darren Bent may just score. This is a game to watch.
Tottenham to win 2-1.
West Brom v Blackburn
I admire WBA’s principles, but Blackburn are tough, so Paul Robinson may not get a chance to concede. Where are the goals going to come from you ask? To use Adidas language, it’s going to be Santa Cruz + 10.
Blackburn to win 2-0.
Bolton v Manchester City
Bolton are phillistines and deserve to lose, yet Man City are simply too easy to press with their 4-1-4-1 formation. Wright-Phillips doesn't get much credit, Steven Ireland is hitting new heights and Robinho is living up to his name. Maybe they can win, but don't look for a clean sheet.
Manchester City to win 2-1.
Newcastle v Aston Villa
Villa are my second team, so I have an affection for them. I am also a third generation Villa "supporter" so they have a special place somewhere near my heart. Anyone who looks at the firepower on offer there and compares it to Newcastle's defence would probably give you an exaggerated scoreline. Villa beat the teams they should beat but often struggle against anomalies like Newcastle. Plus Joe Kinnear isn't such a bad manager.
A 2-2 draw.