There might be a lot to talk about after this week’s fixtures after a relatively quiet front in the transfer window, a few managers getting their P45 and a couple of strikers looking forlorn. With a relegation six-pointer, a classic top four match-up and shock worthy fixtures in Gameweek 22 in the Premiership.
On Saturday, Liverpool go to Villa, one eye on a victory and another eye at bringing some of their playing staff back to Anfield. Villa Park and the Villains have often been a thorn in the Mersey men’s side although the men in Claret and Blue aren’t exactly smelling of roses these days. A press heavy season has opened the world to a squad that seems lazy and spoiled under a boss who seems to find it hard to garner respect and discipline in the team. Since Roy Keane left a lot of the drama did too but to no avail, Villa still linger in mediocrity. Liverpool welcome back a rejuvenated sterling from a Jamaica trip and word on the street is Lallana may be back, looking ever so hungry for games and the ball while playing Lallana may turn out to be worthy of the famous Liverpool number 7 jersey soon and become one of the best for England, these two bring so much pace and leave most defenses over-awed that it’s hard to imagine Lambert’s men containing them and Steven Gerard’s Lap of honour. Rodgers playing a consistent team would give any team in the premiership a run for their money, but a team three points from the relegation zone will have their work cut out. Maybe it’s time for Villa to start training like United, whether they are paid to or not.
Speaking of United, Louis Van Gaal goes to Selhurst Park, with a Moyes-ian record and a bunch of fans playing a game of Where’s Falcao? With the same record as the scapegoat manager last year, leaving a striker of Radamal’s ability out is quite shocking to say the least. Meanwhile, the Dutchman is coming under increasing pressure from the press, looking more and more like a great pretender after shelling out mega money with little to show for it, he will take solace in the fact that Harry Redknapp is running out of time at QPR and his squad is under immense pressure. Harry is due a move soon anyway, if he isn’t going to buy and sell players in January he must be surely plotting a move away, with little amount of chatter from the Redknapp camp, it seems if ol’ ‘Arry has lost interest at Rangers. United should probably win this although QPR could pull it out for old Gipper and make it an upset of the Weekend. It would be hard to imagine Leo Messi in this fixture next year.
Crystal Palace, starting well under Pardew, go to Burnley tied on points looking to distance themselves from the bottom three. This will be a fight till the death of F.A. Cup Final standards. A lot of drama with some great highlights but lacking the major stars to be a blockbuster. If Palace can get another win here after beating Spurs that will be three wins on the Hop for them and they will start to see the rain clouds part and see the sun, finally.
Another couple of teams lacking in box office hits are Leicester and Stoke, Long ball leading the way, a rugged Stoke should walk this tie although three points lost will do them a lot of damage. The foxes don’t have much to play for anymore and look like a side assigned to their fate.
Chelsea, over flowing with marquee names it has to send most out on loan across the world, go to Wales this weekend looking to widen the gap to five points over Manchester City. Swansea however are no push over although without the man who scored the most goals in the calendar year of 2014, it doesn’t look pretty. Bony who went to the African Nations cup via Manchester will be sadly missed around these parts, one will wonder just who will fill his boots, either they have some hidden talent waiting in the wings or Swansea will become a rudderless ship. Chelsea have recently got some of their fighting spirit back and look like a team with drive again after a few complacent results that gave their title hopes a real scare. Although not in the driving seat just yet Chelsea will want to see some more magic from Costa and Fabregas who have looked well worth their money in the first half of the season.
Southampton, another top four contender travel to St James Park, as the flying Dutchman continues on his pre-Barcelona tour, squeezing out so much value from a group of players that are playing some wonderfully entertaining football. Newcastle on the other hand go from one drama to another and are currently without a host of players away on international duty and no manager, they will watch as players play selfishly to put themselves in the shop window as the team throw the game plan to the side. Every team playing Newcastle right now should not come off the field without three points, a shame to see such an entertaining club of the 90’s look so misguided.
West Ham should roll forward and continue to show why Big Sam Alderdice is the 13th best paid manager in the World, while showing Hull the nearest exit. Hull, a haphazard gathering of players, once full of promise that never made the grade, every now and again surprise us, but tired and worn the ‘Tigers’ as their loving owner has christened them lack a lot of bite.
A game everyone wants to seek their teeth into is Arsenal and Manchester City, With at least 15 Arsenal players new and old taking the field and Alexis Sanchez being Manuel Pellegrini’s favorite, between him and Kun Aguero on the field, arguably two of the best players in the Premiership right now, this could be a thriller. Arsenal are starting to find a bit of form, welcoming back a host of players, the recent splurge of cash from Arsene Wenger can be seen on display together finally. That splurge may just need a bit more Splurging to find a perfect balance and show that Arsenal aren’t constantly missing the one player that is the key to their success. Wenger promised a different Arsenal in the New Year when the injury woes subside and now the fans are waiting with baited breath to see a side that can show consistency and prove worthiness of a title again. City may start to be thinking of the Champions league already as the owners eye that as the top prize to add to the trophy cabinet, often a costly mistake for some team who in turn lose concentration and drop the ball at the crucial time, like Sunderland showed over Christmas that they can can be broken down. This city team is far from invincible, this City team is capable of losing to a relegation side on a bad day. City seem to lack the drive they had last year that saw them build a head of steam around now, lacking Toure this week and his mammoth goals this year in general they have less players scoring and are less bankable. This game could have the makings of a seven goal thriller, provided they aren’t too cagey are stock up the back lines and play conservative football but Sanchez doesn’t have the word conservative in his vocabulary.
Enjoy the games
|17 Jan 10:00||Aston Villa||v||Liverpool|
|17 Jan 10:00||Burnley||v||Crystal Palace|
|17 Jan 10:00||Leicester||v||Stoke|
|17 Jan 10:00||QPR||v||Man Utd|
|17 Jan 10:00||Spurs||v||Sunderland|
|17 Jan 10:00||Swansea||v||Chelsea|
|17 Jan 12:30||Newcastle||v||Southampton|
|18 Jan 18:30||West Ham||v||Hull|
|18 Jan 11:00||Man City||v||Arsenal|
|19 Jan 15:00||Everton||v||West Brom|