Friday, November 18, 2011

The Premiership Strikes Back

There's nothing like a week of International friendlies to make fans truly appreciate their domestic leagues and this week was no different.

Normal service is resumed on Saturday lunchtime when Arsenal are the visitors to Carrow Road in a potentially entertaining fixture that will do much to tell us how real the Gunners' recent revival is.

Everton and Wolves should play out a fairly mundane fixture at Goodison whilst Manchester City will attempt to extend their unbeaten run against the even bigger upstarts from St James Park. Stoke and QPR both occupy slots in mid table but both will covet a win that would move them away from the lower end of the table.

The next three fixtures are all potential relegation 'six pointers' with Sunderland and their visitors Fulham enjoying less than auspicious starts to the season. West Brom host a rejuvenated Bolton whilst the grim reaper will almost certainly be attending DW Stadium where the Latics host chicken mad Blackburn.

The late kick off sees the champions travelling to Wales to take on newly promoted Swansea in a fixture which undoubtedly crowns their return to the big time. ManYoo will be keen not to lose further ground to their increasingly noisy neighbours and Wayne Rooney should be raring to go after his week in the international sin bin.

The game of the weekend sees two sides with lofty ambitions who are both under mounting pressure. AVB's silent revolution at Chelsea has come off the rails in recent week and the lack of discipline within the camp must be addressed. The team will hope that the encouraging signs from Fernando Torres in the past month will not prove to be a false dawn especially now that Didier Drogba is now in turn suspended.

Since the arrival of first Abramovich's cheque book and then Mourinho, Chelsea have always been associated with steel and a miserly defence. That steel has turned into combustible magnesium of late and the displays have instead been simply miserable.

For Liverpool, Dalglish has proved a master of the media so far and whilst Arsenal so far this season have been put through the ringer by the media, it is worth noting they have the same amount of points as Liverpool and both trail Spurs in the all or nothing chase for fourth place - we do not class Newcastle as anything more than a passing fad.

The problem with Dalglish's side is that other than the excellent Suarez and the potential of a fit Gerrard they look a fairly ordinary team. Stewart Downing has plied his trade at Middlesborough and Aston Villa previously for good reason - he is not good enough. The money spent on Jordan Henderson also looks increasingly suspect and something must be done to get Andy Carroll fully fit because he looks entirely lumbering and predictable upfront so far this season.

Spurs will again fancy their chances at home on Monday night against an Aston Villa side that again  hardly fires the imagination. Spurs look genuine contenders for fourth place and another home win could see them move into third place if results go their way. For Villa who currently occupy eighth place that is more or less where they will end the season, if ever there was a club it is pointless to support it is them.

This blog will stick its' head up and predict home wins for Everton, City, Stoke, West Brom, Chelsea and Spurs. Arsenal will enjoy an away victory at Norwich and ManYoo will win at Swansea. This just leaves the Sunderland versus Fulham and Wigan versus Blackburn fixtures, both of which will be draws that suit nobody.

Some early team news is that Rio Ferdinand will not be available for ManYoo due to being too busy on Twitter ranting about Sepp Blatter - No Nonsense.