It’s Derby Day !
Well, not exactly.
This is going to be a tough week to watch football. Do we watch the North London Derby featuring the currently resurgent Arsenal against the suddenly expecting to qualify for Europe Spurs? Or do we move to the part of the country that is largely ignored by anyone interested in the aforementioned derby between Liverpool and Everton? Luckily the Premier league knows exactly what it’s doing and has staggered them so that we can spend the entire weekend watching the boob tube.
Alexis is out. The ox is out.. but all of a sudden Arsenal seem to have a healthy stable with Wilshere back, Giroud hitting peak form, Welbeck joining training and the enigmatic Ozil somewhere on the wing… rumours of a recent goal have been confirmed!
But while it’s the flamboyent midfield maestro Cazorla that will be the little engine that people will expect to break open the defense of Spurs, or the speed of Walcott through the middle that people will expect to break open the game – the result may very well hinge on the play of a Coquelin who is become that midfielder that you can count on to be your cover, to paper over the gaps that pushing forward leaves behind. There might not be goals, there might not be assists, and there might not be a statistical category for “allowing others to venture forward” but that’s what insurance position is. It’s not really valuable until you need it.
The amount of fire power is going to ensure that even away from home Arsenal will score 2. I think Theo is hoping that will be combined with a clean sheet.
Spurs, however, have looked much better. Dembele showing some form and everyone in the know is calling the 5 year contract renewal of Harry Kane the signing of the transfer window. He’s got great balance, positional sense and what i can only call “quick feet” but he’s not dominating in anyway and has, in my opinion, been in an early career purple patch. Defenses will adjust to his style and his shots will start to get blocked more. He’s a good player but his work rate is astonishing and it’s only time before he needs to slow down. Perhaps his greatest talent is his ability to keep calm under pressure and just know what to do. This was proved during the transfer window where he told this whopper of a lie with a straight face… I want to stay at a “Great Club”. Yes. Nice one.
But Spurs also have Eriksen who surprises me every week. He’s the harmless looking assassin – you don’t expect much but he scores and he scores goals that matter. Yes, all goals matter but Eriksen seems to be scoring the goals that garner points – sometimes timing is everything. So how many goals will Christian score?
And Harry? What say ye?
Hardly! Even Danny Rose is looking suspiciously at that claim – either that or he’s got that green jealousy.
1-2 for the Away Arsenal.
The Merseyside Derby is traditionally, the derby game I try to watch. People like to talk about North London, they even talk about Liverpool against the team from Trafford but in my mind, this is always the game that is the most exciting to watch. The challenges are borderline reckless, the passion is borderline insane. The results is borderline predictable.
Of course, this will be Stevie G’s last chance to make it a red day and his team will get behind him. I expect Sturridge to survive another game and prove that he’s probably the best striker that England can put on the field (when he’s healthy).
The loss will leave Martinez spending more time talking about hit team being in a relegation battle. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s actually quite insightful and another example of his plain speaking approach to the media. He needs to lose his World Cup pundit habits and channel his inner Barry Fry if he wants results because this is just one more week where he’s right – they’re in trouble. Wunderkind Ross Barkley needs to start proving himself again as he’s looking about as useful as Jack Rodwell did at Citeh – but then again, he’s a young star so he probably gets extra attention which begs the question – who’s the spare man? and what’s he doing? Somewhere Martinez needs to find a playmaker than can take advantage of the space that having Ross affords him.
|Manchester City||2-1||Hull City|
|Queens Park Rangers||1-2||Southampton|
|Leicester City||1-0||Crystal Palace|
The other games, while relegated to the second tier of interest will still be played.
Swansea stole victory from the jaws of defeat (yeah proud of fitting in that classic piece of punditry) last week with a Jonjo Shelvey burner. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the same again against a Sunderland team on a decent run (but still boring) that have got the advantage of a Jermaine Defoe who returns a couple of seasons after Spurs figured he wasn’t good enough. Garry Monk has his work cut out but a Sunderland road win is just too unlikely to predict.
Manchester City looked bad against Wednesday and then looked good in the league away to Chelsea. They are consistently inconsistent but that beats consistently bad and that’s where Hull are. Pellegrini has seemingly found a midfield that can work without Ya-Ya Toure – with the second stringers actually learning to pass the ball forward. Fernandinho almost looks like he might have some talent that he’s been keeping hidden.
Southampton dominated in a loss to Hull and it’s hard to imagine them doing the same again. That means that they will dominate and win or be poor and lose. QPR have not won on the road so their home form has been where they have been “racking up” the points. Yeah… Southampton will have it because well… no ‘Arry motivatin’ sniff the team …bitta problem dat innit. I did predict last week that Harry would be the next manager gone but I didn’t think he’d preempt his firing by resigning.
Aston Villa are rubbish. There I said it. Not even a campaign organized with as much effort as the Invasion of Normandy would allow a result here for the Villains. I’ve seen predictions of 2,3,4 goals. I’m going with 2 goals for Chelsea which is enough to win by 2 goals against Villa these days.
Pardew should work in Vegas with the luck he has. It has to run out away from home against a team that showed so little little passion last week that Tim Sherwood would have said a team of tin men had more heart… and team of cleaned fish had more guts.
|Burnley||3-2||West Bromwich Albion|
|Newcastle United||2-1||Stoke City|
|West Ham United||1-1||Manchester United|
Burnley have been doing better. West Brom, it turns out, despite me predicting 2 goals each week have not scored more than Villa! Bourahino has a massive 9 goals and that’s 1 shy of half of everything they’ve scored! Despite me knowing that, I’m still picking them to score 2… but unfortunately, I’m picking Burnley to score 3 in a massive relegation six-pointer!
I picked against Newcastle last week and they taught me a valuable lesson: don’t pick Hull. At home against Stoke? It will be touch but they’ll eek out a victory that will allow the crowd to start to move on from the loss of their leader, Alan Pardew.
I remember the best game West Ham every played in the Premier League. It was the last game of the year 1994-1995 and Blackburn failed to win at Anfield and the Hammers hosting Trafford United. West Ham played all 10 players in defense, brought in the ghost of Tony Parks, Lawrie Lesley, and the great Phil Parkes to help bat the ball out of the goal mouth for the last 10 minutes with added Fergie time and held on to a point that let Blackburn claim their league title. Why am I bringing this up? Because it’s the same result won in the same style this day in 2015.
Bet of the Week: Sherwood to be next manager of QPR. This is to have some continuance as the team had just got used to the team talks spoken in broken londonish with references to courage and heart.
Side Risky bet with Hedge of the Week:
Steve Bruce to be fired by Hull hedged by Steve Bruce being next QPR manager.