Kieran Davies looks forward to a weekend of derbies and spherical balls.
What do we want? Round shaped ball sport! When do we want it? Now!!! So apparently there is some World Cup taking place in egg chasing or something now? Yes that was the expression I had on my face when somebody told me this too. Luckily for those of us with a London derby shaped hole needing filling after absorbing all that chase the egg talk, how does an early kick off of Chelsea v Arsenal sound? One down side, Michael Owen commentating. Hmm I begrudgingly accept. With Chelsea unbelievably sitting one place outside of the relegation spots, Jose will be craving a home win to push his side to a half of the table they are more used to seeing. Arsenal have a poor record versus the ‘top four’ clubs despite the charity shield win this season. Despite an average start to the season, they are struggling to score goals and convert chances so Chelsea fans will fancy their chances in this one. Could this be the game where Arsenal ‘click’ and take every chance they get and win convincingly by four or five goals? I hope not, I couldn’t take all the title talk this early in the season. For me, Arsenal are seriously lightweight up top, even if you do class Theo Walcott as a striker. He is far more effective coming in from that wide position and scores just as many goals but with Giroud having a poor start, who else does Arsene have? A wounded Chelsea just have the edge in this one for me or a high scoring draw, either way a feast for the neutral we hope.
A Midlands derby is also on the cards this weekend with Villa hosting West Brom. These are two teams who need a morale boosting three points after defeats last weekend. It will be interesting to see how Pullis sets his stall out as his sides are usually tight at the back, absorb pressure and hit on the counter attack. Given how Villa let a two goal lead slip to lose, the best approach maybe is attacking this side with low morale currently. Bournemouth will be hoping home advantage will be the lift Eddie Howe’s side needs after being guilty of being beaten comfortably at Norwich. Sunderland are the visitors and after their defeat to Spurs, find themselves in the bottom three. Pressure lies heavy on their manager to turn things around.
Everton turned a few heads last weekend, like leggy Swedish blonde walking into a busy old man’s pub, beating Chelsea comfortably. They travel to Wales to play Swansea City who lost their first game of the season last week at Watford. The form guide puts this as a game that go either way but Everton have not lost in their twenty league meetings and I can’t see that fact changing this weekend. Newcastle play Watford at St James Park and unless McClaren’s side take all three points, we will no doubt see that scene of a Newcastle team being booed off their own pitch as they find themselves rooted to the foot of the table. Given the hinges of the door on the manager’s office are constantly needing replacing, I think Newcastle could do with Harry Potter at the helm to produce the miracles the North East fans deserve for sticking by their side through thick and thin.
Stoke play Leicester, with Ranieri’s side performing miracles so far this season. No one could have predicted the start they made to the season and when it looked like their bubble may have burst last week, they made a three goal comeback to win. With suspensions hitting Stoke still, this is one of those rare gems Leicester can genuinely look at as a winnable away game and three points. Man City joined some other big names from the Premier League who failed in the Champions League in the first round of matches. With Aguero returning to fitness, you can’t see past a City win here where their record against The Hammers is extremely good and I don’t think we will see Man City give the sort of gift of a performance like Liverpool did. Their attacking threat will cause West Ham trouble from the outset and they will be looking to bounce back after defeat to Juventus at home with a convincing win against Bilic’s side. Pellegrini will know a win in the late kick off, depending on results earlier in the day could see his side putting real distance between themselves and the chasing pack, so early in the season.
And our final derby of the weekend will see another London derby. Palace travel to Tottenham in what should be a highly competitive game. Despite losing at home to Man City to a late goal, they really caused the current league leaders many problems. They have had some fruitful visits to White Hart Lane in the past and Pardew really has got his side playing with some confidence. Tottenham however do have ‘Kane and Son’. No this isn’t a revamp of an old BBC comedy this is Tottenham’s new forward partnership. Having introduced himself to the fans on debut in the Europa League, Son grabbed two goals and the home support will be hoping for more of the same please. Man Utd travel to the South Coast to play Southampton. One player who would have been itching to return to St Mary’s, Luke Shaw, suffered a horrific injury in Champions League game in the week. Aside from your view of the incident or who you support, you wish Luke Shaw all the best in his rehabilitation. Both teams will go into this game feeling they can win it, it will be interesting to all to see how Van Gaal’s men will cope with the added distractions of European football to their league schedule this season. A tough test after defeat In Eindhoven in the week, this will show where his squad currently is in their development for sure.
That takes us to the final game of the weekend, Anfield. It’s happened, he has finally done it. Brendan Rodgers has finally got Liverpool fans hoping their side lose so that this acts as the final straw in events that lead to the sacking of their manager. Although no fan will openly admit this as even the thought makes any true fan feel dirty, the board seem not to be focussed on change. With a manager of the calibre of Jurgen Klopp looking for work, fans want to see the board act before another offer appeals to the passionate German. Most won’t be putting a Norwich City away win down for this one but then again I never would have, in my wildest nightmares, seen a 6-1 defeat to Stoke or a 3-0 defeat at Anfield against West Ham! Brendan seems to be breaking all the wrong records. Even if he manages three points this week, he is not the right man for the job and seems out of his depth. Wins will only paper over the cracks, the big games, against big opposition are showing how far off the pace this squad currently are. Will the Grim Reaper be tapping his scythe on the gravestone of Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool reign as a manager sooner rather than later?