Kieran Davies on stamping, Boris Johnson-lookalikes, and deadly vipers with their fangs removed.
Congratulations to Chelsea and Tottenham for reaching the first showpiece of the season in the Carling Cup Final. A much ostracised trophy gave us the viewers games of quality this season and none more so than the two semi finals themselves. They were highly competitive over both legs but the climax were tight affairs which is what all neutrals want to see. These two could provide us with an entertaining final too with Chelsea’s star studded squad and Spurs with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane. If ever there were a player likely to have a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ final it is Spurs impressive young forward Kane. Sheffield United need recognition for running Tottenham so closely despite the side being in League One, many moons away from the intensity and quality of the Premier League. Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, their side are still looking like a deadly snake with its fangs removed. It attacks with ferocity but as it pounces it has nothing to penetrate its prey and hurt it. Rodgers’ side had plenty of chances to score in the entire 120 minutes and cannot feel hard done by. Brendan Rodgers seems to persist in playing Raheem Sterling as a striker. Let’s get this straight, Sterling is an amazing PROSPECT and a good player. Rodgers seems so desperate for a coveted gem at the club to replace the massive void left by Suarez that he is trying to turn Sterling into one when the reality is, he is an experienced youngster who is not consistent. His finishing seems akin to someone with an eating disorder who hasn’t managed to get out of a work’s party at an all you can eat buffet, Infrequent at best. It worries me that if I, a mere mortal not a professional manager, can see this yet Rodgers cannot that the future is not bright at Anfield.
Diego Costa seems set for a bit of time on the sidelines after finally being held accountable for dishing out more stamps than the Royal Mail lately. Now some have leapt to his defence and called his ban harsh, but the reality is the Brazilian, I mean Spaniard is it? Or whatever he is this week, seems a fiery character in his footballing career prior to signing for Chelsea. Whether there was malicious intent it is now happening often enough that it shows he is doing nothing to avoid landing on player with his boot where as we see so many do just this week in week out to prevent an injury to fellow professional when there is no ball to be won. With Chelsea facing Man City this week and Fabregas struggling to make the game due to injury this could be a chance Man City have craved to close the gap between the pair. It’s not as easy as Bradford made it look however as City will still be without talisman Yaya Toure and new signing Wilfred Bony still. With Sergio Aguero in their arsenal, this is still possible for Pelligrini’s side. West Ham will face a stern test in their credentials to justify their league position as they travel to Liverpool. With rumours circulating that this could be the game that sees Daniel Sturridge return, the Hammers would do well to get anything out of this game. If they are to, they will need to keep Sturridge, Coutinho and Sterling quiet.
Four months ago, if you mentioned Alan Pardew and 100% in the same sentence, you’d be forgiven for assuming it was a poll of Newcastle fans who wanted Pardew to be sacked. How different times are for him in his new position at Crystal Palace. Nothing can be taken away from what he has achieved and an impressive win away at Southampton in the FA Cup cemented that last weekend. This time out they entertain Martinez’s misfiring Everton side. Pressure is mounting on the Spaniard with the fans become impatient with performances and certain players aren’t making the manager’s job any easier with their performances. The magician of the relegation zone, Tony Pullis, will take on a buoyant Spurs at The Hawthorns but with the Baggies bouncing again this won’t be an easy game for the Carling Cup finalists. Man Utd will be looking to improve LVG’s points tally which sits pale by comparison to that of David Moyes as they entertain Leicester at Old Trafford. Not even the most optimistic of punters would confidently throw an away win on their accumulator for this game however.
The early kick off sees a team in danger of getting sucked down the Premier League plughole with form of late, Hull City take on local rivals Newcastle at home. This game is such a double edged sword for Bruce however. On one hand this could be just what his side with its low morale needs, a local derby where the formbook is thrown out the window and usually the most passionate prevail. Where as in defeat, Bruce’s head will be on the chopping block and he will just be waiting to the drum roll before the drop of the blade. The team who enjoy travelling about as much as B.A.Baracus, QPR, travel to the Potteries to face Mark Hughes’ Stoke side. The form guide would say home win with Harry’s side not looking like ending their woeful away record any time soon. If they do manage to do so no doubt a lot of pressure rests on the shoulders of Charlie Austin. Sunderland and Burnley are perched just above the relegation zone currently, and with the fixture list pitting them against one another this weekend it throws up a real three pointer. Burnley will be hoping Danny Ings doesn’t let any of the current transfer rumours about him affect his performances for the clarets.
Elsewhere Arsene Wenger who in my eyes has made the signing of the season this time around in Alexis Sanchez, will fancy a comfortable win at home against Aston Villa. Things are tough for Lambert at the moment, despite a win in the FA Cup last weekend. I can’t see them getting much change out of Arsenal at The Emirates but stranger things have happened and Benteke is known to rock up for these games against the big clubs. The man who looks like the image of what Boris Johnson could have looked like if he had taken his Ritalin, Ronald Koeman takes his Saints side into another winnable game against Swansea City. The Welsh side have been inconsistent at best this season and still seem to be struggling to know where the goals are going to come from, with Wilfred Bony gone, whenever they face a side capable of shutting Gylfi Sigurdsson’s game down. In front of a packed St Mary’s I think they have too much in their locker for Swansea to pull off a result. They’ve got goals coming from midfield and attack and if they get off to a quick start, this could be a long afternoon for Gary Monk’s side.