Friday, December 5, 2008

The Weekend Ahead: Managerless Mackems

He's forever blowing Bubbles... and home games

It's probably time to get into the prognostication game, right? We've only missed over a 1/3 of the season, so hopefully our stats won't compare badly to the likes of Cardillo as we get started.

The big question on my mind at the moment: is there anyone in the EPL that actually wants to win the damn thing? It seems like over the last 6 weeks, all the contenders have shown their strengths and flaws in beating each other up, gaining vital away points and then drawing at home to teams who should be skidmarks by this point. Just when someone dares nose ahead, they underachieve and drop back into the muddle.

Looking at November tells it all, really.

Manchester United: Snuck past Hull 4-3, lost at Arsenal, thrashed Stoke, were lucky for a point at Villa Park, scrape a win over their Manchester rivals.

Chelsea: Dismantle Sunderland, Blackburn (Ince is next for the door, obvs) and WBA, only to draw at home to Newcastle and then lose at home to Arsenal.

Liverpool: Lose to Spurs and end unbeaten start to the season, dominate WBA and Bolton, then two consecutive goalless draws at home to Fulham and West Ham.

Arsenal: Lose at Stoke, beat Man U at home, lose to Villa at home, get murdered by Man City, beat Chelsea.

It's the most perplexing thing at this point since trying to locate Carmen Sandiego. Can you remember a season that was this, ahem, evenly-matched in December? Everyone's fallible, all teams are human (and are capable of great error), anything is possible.

Which is making this decision to finally start predicting scorelines seem even more foolhardy. Ah well, hopefully I'll be better at this than Roy Keane was at figuring out which Spurs players to purchase.

Come Teemu Tainio with me after the jump.

Fulham v. Manchester City
Oh good, a difficult one right off the bat. Do you go with the wonderful Bullard, or the tandem of Robinho and Ireland who seem to shit the bed on the road? That's like deciding between Hall and Oates as to which one you liked better. Fulham 1, Manchester City 2

Arsenal v. Wigan
Is the Gallas situation over and done with yet, or is he the walking, talking epitome of a player who only sings when he's winning? I predict a draw, and then further French self-immolation in the media all week. Arsenal 1, Wigan 1

Blackburn v. Liverpool
If ever there was a team you'd want to face when trying to score your first league goal in over two weeks, this would be it. Ince is clinging to his job by a thread, and this defeat will likely finish him off. Ugly Dutchman will find his boots again, and just in time too. All I want for Christmas this year is a healthy Torres. Blackburn 0, Liverpool 3

Bolton v. Chelsea
This is tougher than you'd think. Stupid F*cking Bolton won 4 of their 5 November games, but Luis Felipe Hackman is still seething from last week's Stamford Bridge shaming at the boots of Robin van Injured. It'll be harder than Frank Lampard would like, but the Blues should right the ship a little here. Bolton 0, Chelsea 1

Hull v. Middlesbrough
The first of this weekend's "who gives a fuck?" fixtures. Hull haven't won in 6, 'Boro are an enigma, and this game will be intolerably boring. Hull 2, 'Boro 2

Newcastle v. Stoke
They're not out of the shit just yet, but Joe Kinnear has his side playing with confidence, something that Allardyce seemed to beat out of them like it was a bad thing. The Potters on the road are dire (2 points from 18), so that trend should continue tomorrow. Newcastle 2, Stoke 0

Manchester United v. Sunderland
If I were a gambling man, I'd bet the house on this one. Fuck, I'd bet the car, the children, the flat-screen TV and the Cuisinart blender you got for Christmas last year but have yet to use. Still, it looks nice gathering dust on the kitchen counter. Who said domestication was easy? Man United 4, Sunderland 1

West Bromwich Albion v. Portsmouth (Sunday)
WBA are playing good football, and Pompey are not. It's that simple. Tony Adams is not the second coming of Jose Mourinho. He's not even the second coming of Kevin Keegan. All the losing they've been doing lately, in the league and in Europe, is going to take its toll on that thin squad. Gamble on this one! WBA 1, Portsmouth 0

Everton v. Aston Villa
Villa may have just lost to Vilnius in Europe (ha!), but they did it the Wenger Way, kiddies to the slaughter. The league is an entirely different beast, one with claws and an inability to feel pain. This is their chance to grab hold of 4th place and never look back, although Moyes' tactics will surely aim to choke all life and excitement out of the game. Still, O'Neill's ready. Everton 1, Aston Villa 2

West Ham v. Tottenham
Draw draw draw draw draw Redknapp draw Zola draw draw draw Bent is falling back to earth draw draw draw Gomes mistake draw draw draw draw. Draw. West Ham 1, Tottenham 1

So there you have it. A week in the EPL. If you lose money on these, it's not my fault. Do what everyone in soccer does: Blame Sepp Blatter.

But back to Roy Keane for a quick minute: we knew him as the most volatile player ever to marshal a midfield, right? So why did he slink off so meekly from the Stadium of Light? Thoughts in the comments, please. And give us your predictions too. If you're that much better than us, shit, maybe we should swap positions.


Keith said...

It was actually Zilina, not Vilinius

And Keano left, and with such a whimper, probably because either Strachan's moving on to greener pastures, like maybe the Scotland job, with the quickness, and Keano's looking to take over at Hoops. That, or he honestly felt awful for "letting down" his fellow Irishman Niall Quinn

Ian said...

Thanks for including Arsenal as "contenders" James!

Lingering Bursitis said...

Keith: at the risk of sounding offensive towards our Lithuanian/Latvian readers, all their teams look the same.

Ian: you're included by sheer virtue of beating ManU and Chelsea. Plus, I'd rather include the Goons than risk getting 20 angry comments from the Arse contingent about their omission.

Andrew said...

@LB: I'm proud UF's Arse contingent hold such mighty sway over your posts. If only we could hold such sway over the Prem.

Quick predictions: Gunners over Latics, Pool over Blackburn, Boro over Hull (Hull will consequently drift back into the pack), Toon over Potters, WBA will beat Pompey (hopefully there'll be some more Calamity James action), Villa affirm their desire to play CL by knocking off Moyes' Boyes, ManUre will shit on BCs, Bolton and Chelsea draw, Fulham-Citeh will draw, Hammers hammer Spurs.

I think Keane realized he'd lost the team a month back and wasn't getting them back. If you leave quietly, better the chances of finding another job. Also, its Sunderland. Why even bother?

Mike Georger said...

who cares, if this brings big sam back to the premiership that's all the matters, so i can see him fail again

jjf3 said...

You ask, and I have enough beers in me to respond...

Fulham 2-1 Citeh
Arse 2-1 Wigan
Rovers 1-2 Pool (on a 90+ minute goal by Derbyshire)
Bolton 1-3 Chelski
Hull 1-0 Boro
Newcastle 1-0 Stoke
ManU 3-1 Sunderland (Cat's pull together for one week, relatively speaking...)
WBA 0-1 Pompey (ugly game assured - I want to make this a 1-1 game on a Calamity goal...)
Everton 2-1 Villa (surprise goal the difference)
Hammers 1-0 Spurs

jjf3 said...

Oh, and I'm part Lithuanian, DAMMIT!

Not that I'd have any clue about Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia football, LB...just a rare chance to be pissed off, other than Blackburn sucking goat dicks...