Kieran Davies on a weekend of torrid weather and entertainment that will feel strange due to the absence of Patch Adams.
At the end of the week where the Premier League has lost the man everyone thought they’d hate but grew to love, the Chuckle Brothers, I mean Neville brothers have taken over the helm at Valencia. One of the most hated men by every fan up and down the country who didn’t support United, managed to turn us with his personality as a pundit. Wow, theres three words I never thought I’d use in the same sentence……Gary Neville and personality. But he did and he will be greatly missed on Sky Sports. The Samaritans are drastically trying to recruit volunteer call handlers with rumours circulating about Sky lining up Michael Owen to replace Neville. For me that’s like replacing Patch Adams with Harold Shipman as your local GP. Sky will see more cancellations than the Syrian tourist board should they make such a horrendous move. Michael Owen is that boring, paint watches him dry!
This week saw the semi finalists of the League Cup decided with Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton and Stoke City taking their place in the hat for the draw. This is a trophy Everton have never won so the cameo put in by Gerard Deulofeu will have made Toffees fans salivate at the thought of a trophy. It has been 20 long years since Everton fans have had the excuse of a day off sick as a result of partying all night after a successful day out at Wembley. The signing of the man Everton fans call magic is quite a strange one within itself. He enjoyed his stint on loan at the club but for me it was bizarre that Barcelona sold the player considering the transfer ban ‘supposedly’ placed upon the club. Either way the Goodison Park faithful aren’t complaining as he has made a great impact so far.
They will however rue that they didn’t manage to draw Stoke City who they saw as the soft option in the semi final draw. In all fairness, the one team you wanted to avoid in the draw was Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and their brand of ‘heavy metal’ football. 1-0 down at Southampton after 40 seconds, the home faithful were in full voice. Cue Daniel Sturridge. The professional hospital patient, whose career has been blighted by football, turned this game on its head and silenced Saints fans. Klopp’s side ran out 6-1 winners leaving the South coast side speechless. Divock Origi having never scored for the club, addressed that problem with a hat-trick. Klopp’s side travel to Stoke City in the first game of the two legged semi final.
Stoke City take on Manchester City this weekend in the early kick off this weekend. Meanwhile, Arsenal the team who were being talked about as title challengers only a few weeks ago, now have more wounded than the rebel fighters in Syria. It will take some performances by Wenger’s squad replacements to even hold on to their coveted fourth spot. If someone were to wake from a coma and check the league table to see how long they had been out for, Arsenal’s position would not help them what so ever. Others would call it consistency however. Sunderland are the visitors to The Emirates this weekend. Louis Van Goal’s will be looking to win at home to West Ham while every other fan in the country will hope they continue firing blanks like the Territorial Army. West Ham could be a good bet to win at Old Trafford however as has been their topsy turvy form this season. Meanwhile league leaders, yes that’s right league leaders, Leicester City travel to Swansea City. With discontent growing in South Wales and faith in Gary Monk dwindling, this could be a good time to go to the Liberty Stadium. Can Jamie Vardy grab another goal to continue his impressive run of form?
Quite remarkably, Pochettino’s Spurs team have not lost since the opening day of the season and will travel to The Hawthorns to take on Pullis’ Baggies in confident mood. Things are tight at the back and they are not conceding many goals so they will fancy their chances in this one. On current form, pushing for a Champions League spot is a realistic ambition for the North London side and they would love nothing more than that to be at the expense of their local rivals.
The late kick off sees Mourinho’s Chelsea take on Bournemouth who will no doubt be buoyed by their late draw they grabbed against Everton last time out. This is really a ‘free hit’ for them as no one will be expecting them to win this one. Chelsea however will have the weight of expectation on their shoulders.
Steve McClaren will have had nightmares this week about facing Klopp’s Liverpool at home this weekend. If Liverpool display some of the form of midweek, this really could be a cricket score which would no doubt see McClaren getting a long break from work this Christmas. Norwich and Watford face each other feeling their form of late has warranted more points than they have accrued of late so both teams will be looking to win this one. Then in the final match in this round of fixtures this weekend we will have to face the reality of a Neville-less Monday Night Football as Everton take on Crystal Palace. This should be an entertaining game with both sides hitting a purple patch of late. So with the torrid weather outside, winter finally settling in, a good excuse for a weekend in with Jeff Stelling and the boys calls us all.