Friday, September 14, 2012

Premier League: Insane Predictions For This Weekend's Fixtures! Berbatov A Vampire! Terry And Ferdinand Both Racist! Wigan Win!

Phew! The international break is over and the Premier League fires up its engines again for another three days of the most exciting football on the planet. One caveat: Don't expect the metaphorical engine I was just writing about to sound like a Bugatti Veyron purring down the autobahn or carving through corners in the Swiss Alps. Rather, the two week international "break" can be counted on to have thrown some sugar in the tanks of even the deepest teams and the knocks, trans ocean flights, difficult qualifiers/friendlies, and time away from club training sessions will most definitely have more than one team firing up a two stroke lawn mower engine that's been sitting in a shed in the back.

What does all of that mean? Upset alert(s).

Norwich City v West Ham United -  In a weird way, this may be the best advertisement for how fun the Premier League is to watch. Sort of like gonorrhea being a great advertisement for condoms. Premier League fans are actually salivating for the kickoff of this match because it means that the league is finally back in action. The Canaries are coming off a moral victory (draw) against Andre "Good Enough For 6th" Villas-Boas' Tottenham side and West Ham are coming off of a comprehensive walloping of Fulham. As far as momentum goes, it's kind of a push save for the fact that The Hammers are without Andy Carroll who picked up a hamstring injury in what was an otherwise stellar debut. Carlton Cole will step in for Carroll and Yossi Benayoun will likely make his West Ham debut...for the second time...and the last time...again. I'm calling a 2-0 Hammers victory.

Fulham v WBA - As a Cottagers' fan, I want to say Fulham will get back on track and beat West Brom at home. I want to say Dimitar Berbatov will bag a classy hat trick. I want to say we're over Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey, we'll find other loves, they never really appreciated us anyway, and the chick from 3B understands us better. Alas, I can't quite see it happening. Bryan Ruiz is questionable for this match and if there's one thing (and there are a lot more things than one) Fulham was lacking in the match against West Ham, it's a creative link between midfield and the forwards. Compounding this problem is the fact that Mohamadou Diarra is out with a knee injury so we don't even have the two central players from the last match fit and available. Compounding both of these problems, at least in my mind, is that apparently Dimitar Berbatov has been asking Martin Jol if Fulham supporters will like him...

Does anyone else see Dimitar as an overly sensitive and deeply misunderstood, yet benevolent vampire? Think less Brad Pitt from Interview With a Vampire and more Dracula from the Dracula rock opera in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Things will get better, Dimi. Just score some fucking goals.

West Brom is coming off of a 2-0 victory against Everton and really only have Steven Reid on the crocked list. I say 2-2 in a wild one.

Arsenal v Southampton - Southampton have gone punch for punch with the big boys so far and Arsenal, although they haven't yet allowed a goal, have yet to convince me. If there's one thing the Gunners' back line consistently has issues with it's big, powerful strikers who are good in the air. If there's one thing Southampton has, it's a big, powerful striker named Rickie Lambert who is good in the air. I think Southampton continues the streak of playing exciting football but coming up just short. Also,  Olivier Giroud breaks his duck. 3-1 Arsenal.

Aston Villa v Swansea City - Both sides look like they'll be significantly different than they were two weeks ago. The Villains will likely call in Christian Benteke, Jordan Bowery, and Ashley Westwood and Swansea is going to have to piece together a back line due to injuries and suspensions. Having said that, what Swansea does well is attack and no one is ever going to accuse Villa of setting the world on fire going forward. 2-1 Swans.

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic - Here's the first of my upset alert matches. I know it's insane, but insanity is fun. Wigan always seems to do crazy shit like, oh say, beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and then lose 5-0 to a team like QPR. United have looked less than convincing in all of their matches so far and unless Danny Welbeck is the perfect foil for RVP (and he may well be), United had better be careful and/or hope that Phil Dowd finds a way to escape the shackles of his fourth official role and start handing out PKs to the Red Devils. Shinji Kagawa and Robin van Persie both picked up knocks while on international duty and I could see Sir starting one or both of them on the bench. I mean, it's Wigan at home, right? 2-1 Wigan. Go on, Wigan! Shock the world!

Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea - Shit just got real. On any other day, Chelsea walks out I guess stays in... West London with a comfortable win. But this isn't any other day. I propose John Terry and Anton Ferdinand don those ridiculous sumo suits - the kind you find at carnivals - and use the center circle as a sumo mat during the warm up. This would serve to get them both back on the same page and bury the hatchet while at the same time offending Shinji Kagawa. The paradox of Anton Ferdinand becoming a racist while John Terry would momentarily not be a racist but then immediately a racist again would keep the British press busy for years, launch another FA investigation, and insure that at least two more handshakegates would give us all something to look forward to. That would put John Terry as the undisputed career leader of awkward handshakes with awkward handshakes had/not had between Wayne Bridge, Rio Ferdinand, Anton Ferdinand, and (hopefully) Shinji Kagawa. #ChelseaLegend.

In actuality, the handshake thing will more than likely come and go pretty quick and then Chelsea can get down to the business of trouncing QPR. 3-0 Chelsea.

Stoke City v Manchester City - And thusly we arrive at upset watch number two! Granted, this one isn't quite as insane as Wigan over Manchester United. Stoke are at the Britannia Stadium which is hard enough to play in when you haven't got the likes of Geoff Cameron, Maurice Edu, Charlie Adam, Ryan Shawcross, Robert Huth, and the ball boys kicking you up and down your legs. And Manchester City certainly will. If Balotelli plays, he's a shoe in for a card, probably one of a reddish hue.

Side note: Does Geoff Cameron not look exactly like Michael Richards' character from Problem Child?

Manchester City haven't been exactly air tight at the back and with so many players away on international duty, I'm not sure one could reasonably expect them to have worked this little problem out. What are the chances Little Mickey Owen comes on, scores the game winner, and then somehow hurts himself in the celebration? That's at least two out of three long shots, but like I said, it's the first fixture after an international break. If not now, when? 3-2 Stoke.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Liverpool will come good eventually. This weekend is not "eventually". 2-1 Sunderland. Also, in case you're thinking, "Another upset?!" Stop thinking that. This isn't an upset anymore.

Reading v Tottenham - Regular readers of the blog will know that I am no big Andre Villas-Boas fan. In short, he's all hat and no cattle. AVB will likely roll out some version of what is essentially a ridiculous 2-5-3 formation, and he'll get away with it, at least against Reading he will. Moussa Dembele has plugged a Moussa Dembele shaped hole and I think Tottenham may start running a little more like that Veyron we were talking about earlier. Still, I think there may be some uncomfortable moments for Spurs in this one. Deuce Face to make an appearance. AVB's scruff at a respectable three days' growth. 2-1 Spurs.

Everton v Newcastle - This is a tricky one. Everton are coming off a 2-0 loss to West Brom and are missing Darron Gibson. I swear I have a straight face when I'm writing that's a significant absence for them. On the other hand, Newcastle are without Tim Krul and Fabricio Coloccini may be unavailable as well. Newcastle haven't yet found the rhythm they enjoyed last season and, save for the unexpected set back against West Brom, Everton have picked up right where they left off. It's a bit of a tough call, but I have to go with Everton at home. Is there a better Premier League atmosphere than Goodison on a Monday Night? That was a rhetorical question, but I'll answer with an unrhetorical, "No!" Even if Coloccini makes it back into the side by Monday night, and I hope he does for selfish reasons, "selfish reasons" being the childlike giggle that any contested ball in the air between Fellaini and Coloccini will likely elicit from me, I still think Everton run out winners here. Seriously, can you imagine it? They'd stick together like velcro and the ball would disappear like a baseball in the ivy at Wrigley. No? Just me? 1-0 Toffees.  

Enjoy the matches and pour a pint out for me! COYW!

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