Kieran Davies on a weekend where we will all once again be milked like cashcows. Forty-two quid for Leeds away?
Another week of thrills, spills and surprises saw Tottenham trounce Manchester City at White Hart Lane 4-1. It wasn’t that long ago that Pellegrini’s side looked a cut above the rest of the competition in the league as they won games at a canter, now not so much. On the back of two defeats in the league, City now suddenly look human again. They need to bounce back and show everybody that they are the real deal and not the stumbling, bumbling, beatable Manchester City we so often see in the Champions League. This isn’t good news for Steve McClaren who takes his very beatable Newcastle to the wannabe champions this weekend. City fans will still be reeling by not only the manner of their defeats but who replaced them at the top of the table will have hurt even more. They will want to address this, this isn’t the Fergie era, City don’t do looking up in the table at United. Their local rivals will be travelling to The Emirates this weekend as they look to emulate such sides as Olympiacos and West Ham United in coming away from there with a victory. This will be a good test of LVG’s side and where they are in the grand scheme of things with the Dutchman having spent in his reign as United manager thus far based on the premise of the film Brewster’s Millions.
Bilic’s Hammers are one of the strangest sides in the league this season, the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team. Defeats to Leicester and Bournemouth at home, then go away to Anfield and the City of Manchester Stadium and do the unthinkable. Shear madness. Saying that, going to Anfield and getting a result is not as much of an accolade as it once was! After all Brendan Rodgers could drive past every speed camera in the UK at excessive speeds currently, only to find out the car isn’t registered in his name, such is his inability to secure three points of late. A Merseyside derby is this week’s challenge for clueless Brendan, who in press conferences has been adamant that he does not fear the sack. In one interview he was quoted as saying he never feared anything in his life. That’s a bold statement from someone who grew up in County Antrim in the 1980’s. I can imagine he at least feared Liverpool asking for a reference from Reading prior to making any job offer for sure! Most Liverpool fans will not be relishing this one at Goodison Park after another poor performance in the week which saw the mighty FC Sion come away from Anfield with a draw. For them to get anything from this one, you would think a lot rests on the shoulders of Daniel Sturridge, but if past form is anything to go by he may be playing right back with Brendan’s love of playing multi million pound talent out of position.
Another manager who will always claim to feel no pressure, Jose Mourinho, really will be under the Russian microscope after two defeats in a week and more specifically losing last Saturday to a side who looked like they couldn’t win a raffle if they bought the only tickets. Southampton are the visitors to Stamford Bridge this weekend, Koeman will know that they have a chance in this one against 14th place Chelsea. A win for the blues this weekend could see them leapfrog Watford and Norwich if other results go well for Jose’s team. Watford travel to Bournemouth this weekend with a real ding dong battle between two newly promoted teams. They both know the worth of three points to their cause and this game really could go either way. Meanwhile, Norwich host Leicester City at Carrow Road this weekend. Leicester will feel they got harshly beaten last weekend as Arsenal stuck five goals on them yet Leicester didn’t play that badly. One thing they will need to address is the leaky defence which has seen them concede ten goals in their last four games.
Bottom of the table Sunderland would do anything for a win right now, entertaining West Ham this weekend this could happen. Which clarets side turns up you may as well flip a coin to decide. If it’s the side that rocked up at Anfield and the City of Manchester Stadium, notch this one down on your coupon as an away win. Saying that I wouldn’t bet against a 3-0 Sunderland win either with the erratic form of the claret and blues. The only team that finds itself in the relegation zone not hailing from the North East is Aston Villa. They entertain Stoke City at Villa Park and with both sides only managing one win this season this game has draw written all over it. However, on reflection I think there is more of a chance of seeing Prince William turn out for Villa tomorrow than them keep a clean sheet! The early kick off sees Pardew’s Palace take on Pullis’ West Brom. With Pullis’ side having shipped six goals in their last two games, don’t bet against his side being drilled in the art of defending this week and if you are betting on the draw, 0-0 isn’t a bad punt. Swansea host the buoyant Tottenham this weekend in South Wales. As things look so fruitful on both the football and rugby front in Wales currently, this will be a stern test for the ‘City-slayers’. Swansea however, since beating Manchester United at home, haven’t won a single game in the league and had a winless September. After such a great start to the season, Swansea really could do with beating Spurs to prevent their fantastic start to the season being in vein.
One thing which is happening this weekend and I feel needs to be mentioned, is fans of twenty Premier League clubs and a number from the Championship will protest about ticket prices. And so they should! A friend of mine and avid Birmingham City fan is making the trip to Elland Road this weekend where Leeds have the audacity to charge in the region of £37-42 for an away ticket. This is scandalous! Do they think these fans are coming into the ground via a time portal which takes them back to the days when Leeds were something to watch and they were making the latter stages of the Champions League? The problem with English football is that it is looked upon as a business and the fans are forgotten. A season ticket at Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund will set you back in the region of £120. You can find matchday tickets of that price at Arsenal and Chelsea if you look hard enough and no doubt if Leeds make it into the top half of the Championship table they will start charging similar prices also. When questioned on why they don’t charge more, a Bayern Munich spokesperson (Uli Hoeness) said ‘We could charge more than £104. Let’s say we charged £300. We’d get £2m more in income but what’s £2m to us? In a transfer discussion you argue about that sum for five minutes. But the difference between £104 and £300 is huge for the fan. We do not think the fans are like cows, who you milk.’ That is the difference between the German league and the English league as sad as it is. So while we all go off to put sudocrem on our udders before our clubs start milking us for all they can, let’s hope that the protests don’t fall on deaf ears and at least our national game can rid itself of the ‘rip off Britain’ tag!