Week of Jan 1, 2015 Premier League Picks – A New Year

An odd week that reminds me of the golden age of football before TV rights and subscription football – all teams playing on one day.   It used to be a ritual to sit down at at about 4.40 p.m., turn it on to Grandstand and watch the vidi-printer kick-off and start posting the results. As they came through you would look for the results that had been picked for score-draws. The astute of you would notice that we didn’t change the channel, for these were the days when there were only 3 legitimate channels and we’d have been watching Grandstand earlier in the day. On occasion, it would have been left on Saint & Greavsie – the slightly less serious side of football.   And yes, the Pools, the forefather of pick ’ems was looking for score draws.  Not wins.  Not losses.  Draws.  How English, how decidedly un-American.

The greatest evidence for how culturally relevant the vidi-printer was back in the day was that Rory Bremner would take on the role of the slick Des Lynam recreate it in comedic fashion.   The uncyclopedia entry for Des is worth reading.

Once all the final scores had come in, Tim Gudgin would read the results in that famous voice… the intonation and pitch such that you knew the away team goals before he had completed the line. Slight depression was a home win, slight raise and the away team won.   Some would prefer the Mel Smith version of events.  Look how far Burnley have come!

We also had CEEFAX to keep us up to date with scores, but perhaps the most iconic use of the vidiprinter was in Championship Manager/Football Manager to keep us watching the screen with the hope that we would ignore the time taken to simulate results.  A discussion on Championship manager is warranted, but maybe another day…. whatever did happen to Nii Lamptey?

1-Jan 2015  
Stoke City1-1Manchester United
Q.P.R.2-1Swansea City
Southampton 1-1Arsenal
West Ham 2-0West Bromwich Albion
Newcastle United2-1Burnley
Manchester City2-0Sunderland
Aston Villa0-0Crystal Palace
Hull City1-2Everton
Liverpool3-1Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspurs1-2Chelsea

Manchester United have been playing well enough to get to the top 3 but it’s not been entirely convincing but that’s good enough against most teams.  Stoke are, as I say all the time, stubborn.  Man Utd will continue to give up far more chances than they create so a draw seems a fair result.  Good result for the Littlewoods/Vernon’s pools this week.

Q.P.R. have, in Austin, found someone who can consistently find the back of the net playing well and Swansea.  Swansea had won a couple before they were soundly beaten by a Liverpool team that haven’t scored a whole lot.  I figure that if you get soundly beaten by Liverpool you’re not that good at the moment (it’s hard to believe Liverpool are 8th on their form)… and with Q.P.R. pressing for goals it should be a home win.

Southampton were unlucky against Arsenal early in the winter period when they were down to 10-men and it’s hard to see them giving it away cheap or being easy at home (they are Saints, are after all ;-)).   Arsenal are on a decent run with Sanchez and Cazorla playing well but they will be missing Giroud who, for a couple of games, almost looked like a striker – rather than the french gay icon model he sometimes appears to want to be standing around looking pretty (according to some).   It will be hard fought but I see Rosicky scoring again with Danny Welbeck failing to score again.  He’s scored more than Falcao though, so maybe it wasn’t a bad bit of dealing by Arsenal in the end.  Another one for the pools!

The two Wests in the premier league fight it out but one North of the table and one South of the table.  It’s hard to see Upton Park see an away win, or a 2-2 score draw.  Chalk up another Hammers victory… when are they going to fall down the table?  Perhaps Teddy will leave and their goals will dry up?  In the meantime, here’s another photo of him for the ladies.

What a Hottie...
What a Hottie…

Burnley managed a miracle draw in the week to rival Crystal Palace’s comeback from the dead against the not-so-mighty reds last year.  A 2-2 draw against Citeh at the new Maine Road was quite the game fitting of the team.  We always used to say about Manchester’s favorite team that “If there’s a way to screw it up, they will”.   It’s unlikely Burnley can do the same again, and with Alan Pardew seemingly on his way out, it would be the perfect time for Newcastle to win.

Manchester City coming off disappointing win will try and take it out on a team with the fewest wins in the premier league (3) tied with five others.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the firepower of last year and will have to settle for a dominating midfield and a measly two goals.  As predicted, they are a much better team with Silva and it’s hard to see them losing, or tying, for that matter.

Aston Villa remind me of The Big Bang Theory’s Koothrappali …. they can’t score.
Crystal Palace are looking like they are interested in Alan Pardew so it’s a good time to put in a dour performance.

Not Scoring Much

Last week Roberto Martinez used the standard cliches that David Moyes used at Manchester United – “we were unlucky” and “things went against us”. The difference is that Roberto just speaks openly and honestly and also assesses his teams shortcomings.  Hard to see their luck continuing on the negative with a team largely unchanged from last year’s success.  Ross Barkley continues to be that player we talk about because he’s English… if he was continental we would be wondering what all the fuss is about.   Everton win, and I expect this year to be better for the Toffeemen.

Liverpool won in the week and I expect to see that great run of form continue into the New Year with another victory.  It won’t be easy as they’re playing Leicester at Fortress Anfield against a team that has amassed a massive 13….. points.   No Alan Pardew Project this week, but if Liverpool lose this game the pressure will mount on BR.  How he needs Sturridge back from his strange multi-injury thigh mystery.

It’s the Spuds at home.. a sure victory, Pochettino has turned them around playing a number of youngsters.  Harry Caine will knock in another and the spuds will keep things interesting for a while but I’m sure Chelsea finds a way to do what they do all the time… annoy everyone at the weekend that’s not living in SW6.  It’s likely to get worse because most of the big games in the second half of this year will be at the bridge (City, Liverpool – it still counts!, Manchester at the Old Toilet).

No Alan Pardew project candidate this week because Alan Pardew is undergoing his own Newcastle/Crystal Palace storyline.  It will resume next week, or as soon as AP’s future is clarified.

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