After two weeks of abstinence Kieran Davies is ready to once again get his euphoric fix.
Every football fan up and down the land has spent the last week and a half feeling like a recovering addict craving their fix. Pretending that international football is enough for them when deep down they know it just doesn’t hit that euphoria they’re got used to. Even the tournaments themselves don’t serve up the excitement and passion of a Premier League weekend. If we can take one thing from this Premier League free period is that we will be interviewing the sole living survivors from when England last won a World Cup before they get anywhere near a final again!
So the best league in the world is back with a punch this weekend throwing up some big games. Trophies are never won in November but the season is already at that point where if you serious ambitions of being a ‘top 4’ team you have to start beating your counterparts. This applies to a lot of teams but firstly the early kick off throws up a Merseyside derby and Liverpool can take heed from this advice. After a poor showing against Arsenal if Brendan Rodger’s men hold any aspirations of being in this group today is game they have to take three points from. Now Everton aren’t going to be in that mix, they don’t have any depth of quality to their squad, but they are team capable of beating these teams at home. This will prove a stern test to Liverpool. Win today then this season can be whatever you want it to be.
Already people have been saying how Liverpool can get a top 4 place but not challenge for the title. This is complete rubbish. The title is there for the taking for whoever wants it this season. There is no stand out side and even the form teams have chinks in their armour.
Man Utd are a shadow of the teams Fergie took to titles and I think this shows the effect the man could have on players as they have the same squad, but there are not many managers with the capability of man management that Fergie had (said through the gritted teeth as a Liverpool fan). What team will turn up at Cardiff this weekend is anyone’s guess but thus far they have been carried by Rooney and Van Persie. Man Utd’s midfield hasn’t featured in the best Premier League midfields for a number of seasons now but this is now becoming glaringly obvious even to fans of the Old Trafford outfit. Malky Mackay’s team will have to improve drastically on their last outing at Villa, they need to show the passion and hunger they showed against Man City earlier in the season.
Tottenham take on the challenge of City this weekend and this will be a big test of their credentials for even that elusive Champions League qualification. As an outsider looking in I don’t think you can buy such an amount of players and expect them to hit the ground running, just ask Paulo Di Canio. One thing is for sure they don’t look anywhere near the team they were last season and champions certainly don’t lose 1-0 at home to Newcastle. Soldado has only scored one goal from open play and considering the price tag and the high regard he is held in, this is a poor effort. Spurs are creating chances but not converting, their creativity will take a huge dent with the absence of their stand out player Christian Eriksen. The fans will rave about their new wide talent Andros Townsend but let’s have a little reality check, he’s had 3 or 4 good games since sprouting from obscurity, this doesn’t make him the Gareth Bale replacement they so crave.
Chelsea need to start addressing their poor away form if they want to be up there come the end of the season and they will fancy their chances against a West Ham side struggling for goals. Lampard always enjoys a trip back to his old club and I will be surprised if we don’t see him leading the Chelsea midfield.
Another interesting matchup is Arsenal’s home game against in form Southampton. Everyone laughed, me included, when Pochettino pronounced how their aim for this season was a Champions League spot. The league is so open now that with their current form this comment doesn’t seem to inspire the call to the asylum as it once did. They will struggle will the long haul over the season but it will interesting to see just how competitive they are in the game against Arsenal. They beat Liverpool at Anfield but that was more akin to the British victory against the Zulu warriors than a convincing win, but its points that matter at the end of the season.
There are a lot of managers who are already under pressure this season and one such matchup is Stoke’s home game with Sunderland. Stoke have looked poor this season despite an entertaining draw with Swansea last time out. Martin Jol will be hoping for a home win against Swansea with his Fulham side struggling for points this season, they’ve always struggled on the road but Craven Cottage just isn’t the fortress it once was and too many teams are finding it easy to come away with the spoils.
Newcastle will be looking to follow their impressive win at White Hart Lane with a win against their old manager’s Norwich City side. Hughton too is under pressure despite managing to take all the points against West Ham in their last game but it’s a big ask for a Norwich team with strikers struggling for goals. Newcastle have relied too much on Cabaye’s performances and if the Frenchman isn’t on song there doesn’t seem to be anyone else capable of pulling the strings. They do have the in-form Loic Remy to turn to though and he has looked a shrewd signing so far.
Managerless Crystal Palace travel to Hull already in danger of Premier League status seemingly slipping away. The riches of the Premier League are now so vast the distinct lack of spending at Selhurst Park makes me wonder whether their business plan is for an immediate return to the Championship. The apparent ‘losers’ would then walk away with their £70m+ from this season and have a plan of parachute payments to look forward to which would no doubt stand them in good stead to put a side together capable of winning the Championship at a canter. It’s an optimistic business model that has been tried by the likes of West Brom but even they have had spend big on some transfers and good use of the loan system to rid themselves of their yo-yo status.
So some real mouth-watering games and the rare treat of a couple of games that actually live up to their ‘Super Sunday’ status. The only predictable thing is more thrills, spills and upset fans trudging through the cold back home come Saturday night.