Friday, February 22, 2013

The Uruk Hai, Predator, "B" Words Premier League Predictions

What a week-and-a-half it's been. I spent most of it in a fever dream hacking up 2/3 of a lung and blowing a brownish material the viscosity of honey from my nose, but apparently a lot happened in the football world as well.

Namely, AC Milan took a 2-0 aggregate lead in their first leg Champions League match against Barcelona and caused most Pompey fans to experience a sudden spike in their experience of anti-schadenfreude. Seriosuly, can you imagine supporting a club in the throes of an epic financial implosion that is seeing them nosedive in a flaming clusterfuck of failures down the league structure while two of your old boys lead a famous club to a famous win over a considerably more famous club in the most famous club competition in the world; a competition your club will likely never again even get a sniff at? It's enough to make your heart arrhythmically beat the Chimes of Pompey. Pouring one out for the Southcoasters as I write this.

What I didn't miss was much Premier League action. Praise Jesus. Eventually, I'll get around to figuring out what my record is in Premier League predictions this season, but I can tell you now without even crunching the numbers that it's pretty good. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but *toot, toot*.

So what's on tap for tomorrow?

Well, the early kickoff sees Fulham play host to Stoke City. What is there to say about Stoke that hasn't been said already before? Well, how about this: Stoke City are like an army of Uruk Hai marauding through the Premier League by surviving on the entrails of those poor Men, Elves, and Hobbits they've kicked to death. That and absolute evil. Mostly absolute evil. I mean, what is that freaking towel-sewn-into-the-jersey thing but absolute evil. It's gimmicky and frustrating and amateurish and it makes my blood boil that it's actually effective sometimes. Mercifully, they've not used it much this year, but they still have Ryan Shawcross and I can't stand Ryan Shawcross. Also, I'm a Fulham fan so take everything I've just written with a Wife of Lot sized grain of salt.

Stoke center back Ryan Shawcross
I want to predict a comfortable Fulham win, but as was discussed on the Cottage Talk podcast earlier today, Martin Jol has yet to figure out the most effective combination for Fulham's attack. As was mentioned on the show, on the one hand it's reassuring that Jol realizes this is an issue. On the other hand, ummm, it's almost March. I feel somewhat like I'm beating a dead horse here, but we lack the combination of pace and guile on the wings to afford us the luxury of playing with two number 10s, and maybe even one number 10. Additionally, Fulham offer next to nothing going forward if a striker a la Hugo Rodallega isn't played in an advanced role.

Hopefully, Jol doesn't go with the 4-6-0 he's deployed all too often this season and Fulham are able to take advantage of a suddenly leaky Potters' defense. I'll call a 2-1 Fulham win with one Stoke Uruk Hai seeing red. I don't think they'll be able to resist kicking Berbatov. God knows I couldn't.

Arsenal take on Aston Villa on Saturday as well. The good news for the Gunners is that Aston Villa does not start with the letter "B". Bradford, Blackburn, and Bayern have all recently taken it to The Arsenal and, having just finished reading Soccernomics, I know Arsene Wenger to be a huge fan of statistics. Rest easy, Arsene, there's not a "B" in sight...unless you count Villa being from Birmingham and employing the Belgian Benteke. Fuck! Still, Arsenal can't lose this one, can they? I call Arsenal 3-1 victors.

Grant Holt: Predator lust porn
In another 3:00PM kickoff, Norwich play host to Everton.  It's tough not to read too much into Everton's collapse against Oldham in the FA Cup and I have to admit I'm tempted. Weaker opponent, away fixture, physical team who can throw a big body into the box? I hate to say it, but I see this ending in a 1-1 draw. Jelavic has gone off the boil and it seems just like Everton to travel to a weaker team and only manage a draw. All bets are off, however, if The Predator lands at Carrow Road as he'll immediately hunt down Grant Holt and his massive trophy skull. Let me know ASAP if it's warmer than usual in Norwich tomorrow morning.

Manchester United travel to Queens Park Rangers and are looking to avoid being yet another of the Premier League elite to fall victim to Harry Redknapp and his financially unsustainable menagerie of pensioners. The timing of this fixture benefits Manchester United as there's no way they will be surprised by what QPR can offer. Also, the fact that Manchester United is Manchester United and have thus far proven to be the only Premier League side not prone to the occasional embarrassing hiccup bodes well for the Red Devils. Even though United look to be without the services of Wayne Rooney who has been laid low with a case of the sniffles (I feel your pain, Wayne!), I still think United rolls here. 3-0 Man U.

Reading play host to Wigan and my nonsexual mancrush, Roberto Martinez. In campaigns past, this match would have all the allure of a documentary about llamas on a Sunday afternoon on PBS. For most people it probably still does, but I'm prone to believe that there are goals in this match. What's that sound? You guessed it! It's the William J. Le Petomane Insane Prediction of the Week. I'm calling an edge of the seat, grandstand finish, women swooning, dogs and cats living together, goals bonanza. Why? I have no idea. 3-3. Epic.

In Saturday's final match, West Bromwich Albion take on Sunderland. This is really the tale of two strikers. Can Romelu Lukaku have more of an effect on the day's events than Steven Fletcher? At home, I'm inclined to think that he can. My caveat to this is if Steve Clarke does indeed decide to recall Peter Odemwingie. I can see this going one of two ways, but never the twain shall meet. One: Peter "Don't You Want Me, Baby" Odemwingie is called upon to provide a spark for the Baggies but is booed so mercilessly he sucks the wind out of the West Brom cause and Sunderland steals some points. Two: Peter "Sign Me Maybe" Odemwingie is called upon to provide a spark for the Baggies cause and is booed so mercilessly he finds that extra gear to stick one in shut the up the home supporters. My call? 1-1.


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