Midweek European duties sprinkle the games across today and tomorrow with ours being a 1500BST job which means Streamsville Dakota. What joy.
So I’ll bang the drum again. There are cameras at the stadium and the overwhelming majority of supporters are not able to attend and they would be willing to Pay Per View. If you billed the millions of football hungry fans and sold the advertising rights properly you could drop the admission prices at the stadiums and still have people queuing around the block to get in.
Instead of the Premier League exploiting their product, they cling to it like shipwrecked men to bits of floating broken boat.
The games and my sure fired tips to lose your dinner money.
Aston Villa vs Norwich
Two sides with form so miserable this will be a pressured affair until the kick off whistle then they will get back to hoofing, running about and nudging each other a bit. Norwich’s official site says their goalkeeper is called Mark Bunn. Does he exist or did Steve Coogan write him. ‘Bunn Fight!’ says The Sun. Villa to win by a single goal says I.
Arsenal vs QPR
If Arsene loses today it’s officially a crisis. Sparky Marky Hughes would swap a kidney for a crisis like theirs. Having adopted the same transfer market template that Roy Keane used at Sunderland the QPR supremo is getting similar results. The Hoops have introduced more New Faces than ITV did in the 1970’s but can’t get a decent performance out of any of them. The Gooners are ‘languishing’ in 9th and their fans are revolting. Boom boom. Prediction a coupon busting 1-3.
Reading vs Fulham
Brian McDermott strikes me a decent enough chap but I can’t see Reading surviving their foray into the Premier League. They seriously lack any of the vital ingredients needed. Fulham by contrast hardly looked blessed with world beaters yet old Martin Jol has them in 8th doing all the right things; taking points off people like West Brom, Villa and Wigan. Reading would take a draw, desperate for a win, Jol seems unlikely to lose. Prediction an unmemorable but away win.
Stoke vs Sunderland
You’d struggle to put a cigarette paper between these two. Attempting the task would probably more rewarding than sitting through 90 minutes of them ‘playing football’. Martin O’Neill the world’s most overrated football manager and Tony Pulis the world’s most underrated rugby league coach. Diseased gambling addicts should look at cards and corners prices. Football connoisseurs should look away. Prediction: 3-2.
Wigan vs West Ham
This could be a long game. West Ham’s form is as erratic as one of David Gold’s faulty sex toys. Wigan are adopting their usual cunning master-plan of losing to all and sundry before suddenly coming to life in the last 6 weeks of the season. That bloke Bob Matthews is a genius. I wish we’d got him. Proper genius. Prediction: Away win. Maybe by 2 goals.
Manchester City vs Swansea City
I think this is Bob Mancini’s last season. The sheiks have shipped in Bergiristain, Soriano, Boixassa & Calzada and to me that has more than a faint whiff of ‘Pep Guardiola’s on his way’ about it. Mancini has screwed the Champions League twice on the bounce and has done nothing but whine for months. Laudrup began brightly but then hit 3 nasty losses in a row to Villa, Everton and Stoke. The Swan look to have steadied themselves a little since then but more than a draw today would be ambitious. Prediction: 1-2, I’m feeling ambitious on their behalf.
Everton vs Liverpool
The ‘Calm Downs’ vs the ‘Ey, Ey’s.’ Presumably the kick off will be delayed with 27 different minutes silences for various heart wrenching incidents effecting local people who valiantly lost some battle or other against things that single out and vitimise honest decent Scousers. I hope Everton win. Historically I’m not convinced they ever do but I hope they do. Prediction 3-1.
Newcastle vs West Brom
Another game that could seem to take much longer than the anticipated 90 minutes to play out. Newcastle are a mob that have gone off the boil and Steve Clarke could well be the man to slip in here and do a job. Toon have drawn a lot of games and this doesn’t look like it will be much more exciting. Cue a 5-0 win. Prediction 2-2.
Southampton vs Tottingham Hostpur
After an uninspiring run out against Chelsea then Maribor a solid win would be nice. Bale is back from paternity leave. Ade and Moussa will be assessed in relation to their respective back and hip complaints. The Saints are without Gaston Ramirez. This really ought not to be anything more than a duck shoot but some of the mindless, un-inventive near abysmal play recently chills my bones. Prediction: 1-5.
Chelsea vs Manchester United
One deeply unpleasant side versus a relatively horrible one. The racists will be without Fat Frank and Nick Griffin. I would be shocked if Bob di Matteo’s lot don’t win this and win it convincingly. Mata, Oscar and Hazard have got to be too much for a United side that keeps shipping far too many goals. Clattenberk as ref is the insidious cherry on top of this steaming pile of … Prediction 3-2.