The prize for most drawn out international break
has been handed out and thankfully it means Premier League action returns this weekend. There’ll be no debates about captains to be found here. Just 100% soccer. Where the players actually give two shits about where the team ends up.
Depending on how much snow their region received over Christmas, teams will be left with either eight or nine games over which to decide their season. As the weeks go by it will become clearer as to who’s going where next season. It wouldn’t surprise many if it all went to the final day though.
This weekend’s fixtures aren’t a week that jumps out from the pages of the tabloids but weekend’s like this can sometimes be the reason we Sky+ Match of the Day.
Leaders Manchester United travel to the pwopa norty East End of London to take on a resurgent West Ham side. This the same team that inflicted an embarrassing 4-0 reverse on the former Champions in the Carling Cup.
Sky’s pre-match montage will no doubt cut back to that day in 1995 when United failed to win at Upton Park and take home the league title. On that day they had no Chicharito. With others rested a goal from the little Mexican could be the key to maintaining their title charge.
By the end of the weekend second placed Arsenal could find themselves having a real chance to reach the league’s summit by taking advantage of any United slip up. Unlike their North West counterparts, Arsenal have no Champions League tie to worry about so can name a full strength side for the visit of Blackburn.
Their opponents have been living up to the Tom Petty classic “Free Falling” since Steve Kean was appointed manager. The Venky’s Group could be calling up Big Sam and begging when the season’s out.
Third placed Chelsea should register a routine 2-0/2-1 win at Stoke with Frank Lampard at least claiming one goal as they look to challenge the top two. The West Londoners are another side that may need to rest players ahead of their first leg tie with United on Wednesday. The Potters haven’t beaten their opponents since 1975 and their usual bullyboy tactics won’t work anywhere near as well thanks to the physical nature of Chelsea’s team.
The burning question on everyone’s lips is still whether Fernando Torres or Andy Carroll will ever score for their respective clubs. We’re going for Carroll this week as they’re away at West Brom. There’s also the little fact the Geordie notched his first international goal this past week.