Tuesday, January 27, 2009

EPL Open Thread: The Day The Drama Died

HATE.


Ladies and gents, this is the day the EPL gets its back broken. The signs have been there, and now it's finally time to concede defeat. With every team beneath them looking beaten and stricken by internal strife, today is the day that Manchester United seize control of the league lead, never to look back.

Yep, they're at West Brom, staring at the chance to go three points clear at the top. It's clear on recent form that no-one else really fancies the stress and strain of a sustained trophy hunt, and so Fergie's maudlin band of sulkers and mercenaries will duly oblige in taking the proverbial candy from the EPL's babies.

To add history to the pot, if they stop West Brom from scoring tonight (at least for the first 84 minutes or so), they'll break Chelsea's record of playing 1,025 minutes in the EPL without conceding a goal. A truly sickening statistic, one that we'll never hear the end of, I'm sure.

So there it is folks. Bid adieu to the 2008/09 EPL season. You sure were a fun ride for a while.

Four games tonight, six tomorrow. Tonight also sees Villa look to keep pace, and an early-doors relegation six-pointer between 'Arry and Tony Pulis.

Leave your title hopes and eulogies in the comments. Lineups and whatnot after the jump.

-----

Come visit sunny Portsmouth: the place where away wins are made

Portsmouth v. Aston Villa, KO: 3pm
Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Pennant, Davis, Mullins, Belhadj, Crouch, Kanu.
Subs: Begovic, Nugent, Kaboul, Pamarot, Utaka, Mvuemba, Armand Traore.

Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Knight, Davies, Luke Young, Gardner, Petrov, Barry, Milner, Agbonlahor, Heskey.
Subs: Guzan, Sidwell, Harewood, Delfouneso, Salifou, Shorey, Osbourne.

PREDICTION: Now that Villa have Emile "I distract defenders so my teammates can score" Heskey, this'll be a simple trip south for M O'Neill, especially because Fratton Park is becoming the EPL's Convalescence Home. Down on your luck? Visit Portsmouth! They'll gladly oblige 3 points. Portsmouth 0, Aston Villa 3
-----

Sunderland v. Fulham, KO: 2.45pm
Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Ferdinand, Collins, McCartney, Malbranque, Whitehead, Tainio, Reid, Cisse, Jones.
Subs: Colgan, Edwards, Diouf, Chopra, Leadbitter, Healy, McShane.

Fulham: Schwarzer, Pantsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Etuhu, Murphy, Dempsey, Johnson, Zamora.
Subs: Zuberbuhler, Nevland, Gera, Stoor, Andreasen, Kallio, Baird.

PREDICTION: Um, home win? Rag on the Mackems all you want, but they're decent at home. I reckon Kenwyne's about to score again -- after all, it's been about two weeks since his last. Sunderland 2, Fulham 1
-----

'Arry: forever beautiful

Tottenham v. Stoke, KO: 3pm
Tottenham: Cudicini, Corluka, Dawson, Woodgate, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Zokora, Modric, Bentley, Pavlyuchenko, Defoe.
Subs: Alnwick, Bale, Huddlestone, Gunter, Campbell, Taarabt, Rocha.

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson, Shawcross, Abdoulaye Faye, Higginbotham, Delap, Amdy Faye, Whelan, Etherington, Cresswell, Beattie.
Subs: Simonsen, Griffin, Lawrence, Fuller, Kitson, Pugh, Sonko.

PREDICTION: Ugh, I have to say Spurs will take this one, despite all logic processing to the contrary. I mean, they were worse than awful last weekend, and Stoke have been rather tough to break down of late (cue my uncontrollable tears at 4 points lost to these Potter bastards), but 'Arry has a way of fooling everyone with some false hope right when it's needed most. Plus, they just bought some former players back! How could they fail!?!?! Spurs 1, Stoke 0
-----

West Brom v. Manchester United, KO: 2.45pm
West Brom: Carson, Hoefkens, Pele, Donk, Robinson, Zuiverloon, Borja Valero, Koren, Brunt, Simpson, Fortune.
Subs: Kiely, Cech, Bednar, Kim, Dorrans, Filipe Teixeira, Morrison.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, O'Shea, Park, Carrick, Giggs, Ronaldo, Berbatov, Tevez.
Subs: Kuszczak, Brown, Tosic, Scholes, Fletcher, Gibson, Eckersley.

PREDICTION: Squeaky, late, deflected away winner for Fergie and his merry band of bastards. It won't be easy, but like all things drenched in Satanism, they have a way of achieving their nefarious goals. Berbatov will bump one in 5 minutes from time. West Brom 0, Manchester United 1


42 comments:

The Fan's Attic said...

at least there will still be an interesting race for the second automatic qualifier for CL and the fourth CL spot. plus, relegation should be fun to watch.

Mike Georger said...

If Eric Idle had sex with a pig, the resulting offspring would be 'Arry. My God how did I not figure this out sooner.

The NY Kid said...

how is Gareth Bale not starting?

Ibracadabra said...

NY -

Tottenham actually want to win.


As for the Villa 3-0 prediction, I think it will be much closer than that... PMouth have Kanu starting (is this 1999?)

Chim chiminy, chim chiminy, chim-chim chiroo, who needs Anelka when we've got Kanu?

The Fan's Attic said...

did ManU magically get its kickoff time postponed? gamecast shows it starting at 15 after now.

fuck that noise.

Ibracadabra said...

"Crowd congestion" at WBA delayed the match.

The Likely Lad said...

loooooooud at the lane! spurs lucky, then good. 1-0...

Precious Roy said...

I think Eric Idle would have better taste than to fuck a pig.

Also, methinks there is a karmic bill coming due to United before mid-April. I don't know why I have this feeling, outside of a hatred so deep-seated that I can actually feel it producing bile in my duodenum.

Precious Roy said...

Also, Luton up 1-0 after 30.

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

Watching at work right now. I thought Ferdinand was still hurt?

Mike Georger said...

United players always come back sooner than expected. If Ronaldo blew out his knee he would only miss two weeks.

The Fan's Attic said...

it's the devil's handiwork. Berbatov's Uncle knows something.

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

That little sequence by West Brom wasn't actually that bad; they got a corner out of it, and had a nice shot up the middle.

Keith said...

3.5 mill pays off quickly. Heskey opens the account on 21.

Precious Roy said...

Thanks Pompey... That was Arsenal-esque from your central defense.

JT said...

3-0 Spurs? WTF

Keith said...

Sol obviously learned to defend that poorly at the Lane, not Highbury.

The Likely Lad said...

seriously. i went to poop and they score two. where the hell has this team been? they look magnificent. it's odd.

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

Nice save by the West Brom keeper. I will say, from what I can see they're not just parking the bus; they're at least ATTEMPTING to attack.

Precious Roy said...

Couldn't it at least been Gabby? I figure if Villa are going to frustrate the Gunners, then at least my fantasy team should profit from my frustration. Alas...

Keith said...

Wait for it, MH. Carson will eventually spill one either right into the net, or right at Berbs' feet.

Keith said...

Gabby gets the assist, I think; which means both our teams profit, Bertin

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

I went to college with a skinnier version of Vidic. They both have that same slack-jawed blank stare.

Matt said...

Quick mention for our boys in the Colaship - Norwich City go 2-0 up against the Saints, with a 30 yard cracker from Wes Hoolahan. Gunn gets off to a flyer. On the ball city!!!!

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

And there it is.

Precious Roy said...

Yours more than mine, Keith. Shit, if Villa are going to be lodged in the top 4, can they threaten United? Because then that might be fun.

The Fan's Attic said...

so long as Berbs scores and not Ronaldo, i'm happy for fantasy purposes.

ΓΌ75 said...

What is Watford doing playing Spurs?

The Fan's Attic said...

gamecast has WBA with only 1 shot since the 17' mark. is WBA going into a shell now?

Andrew said...

Tuesday afternoon sackah? I'll take four. What a wonderful surprise. But then I realized the Prem is over and Utd is going to blah blah blah, etc etc etc FUCKTHEM!FUCKTHEM!FUCKTHEM!

The Fan's Attic said...

woops...all WBA hope just went out the window with that red card. fuck them. can't they at least make it seem like they could take points off of ManU?

The Fan's Attic said...

KJones for Sunderland...gives me two goal scorers today for my Yahoo team.

Andrew said...

I read this headline wrong. Too bad.

JT said...

TFA: I believe LB called Kenywne as a goalscorer today

Magnakai Haaskivi said...

Mercifully, my feed died right before halftime. I was holding out hope that my feed was actually still live, but a meteor had knocked out reception...guess not.

Precious Roy said...

Nice finish their Crouchie.

Keith said...

Bertin, I think we might be up to the challenge. Especially if MON pinches Johnson and Sturridge from the Eastland Galacticos to help on the other two fronts (UEFA/FA).

Granted, we have to possess a little better than we've done today, but Heskey already looks like he's going to open up some space in the channel for Barry, Milner and Young. And Zat Knight- Zat Knight! is looking up to snuff to replace Laursen for the next 7 weeks.

Precious Roy said...

With all due respect Keith... no chance. With Laursen out, and given how that team played in the second half against a dreadful Portsmouth I can't see it.

(Oh and their = there).

Keith said...

Meh. Other than Crouch's header, and the Utaka run that ended up getting scrambled, there wasn't a whole lot of danger to Pompey's attack. And a lot of that can be down to Davies and Knight putting in some excellent tackles. Where we definitely miss Laursen is in the attacking box on set plays- Curtis doesn't do what the Dane does. Also, Gabby missed yet another sitter, which would have put the match beyond doubt.

We do lack that hammer/fifth gear that United showed today, but the Villa are three back, and showed attacking flair if little possession without our best player. Plus, I saw it written somewhere, and I agree, that the Villa team simply doesn't know when they're beaten, and that's a dangerous quality for the run-in.

Precious Roy said...

There wasn't a whole lot of danger to the attack because Portsmouth sucks (how Crouch pushed that sitter 5 yards wide from 2 yards away...). Unless they dump Adams soon, they are headed for the Colaship. Any other opponent today (save for Newcastle, WBA, and maybe Bolton) and Villa loses or draws.

Pompey got 17 corners. A better side makes Villa pay for that. Even a man down they continued to string together possession and at least stay in the attacking third.

Keith said...

Half of those corners were second corners after Villa cleared the first one. I know a corner's a corner's a corner, but they defended the corners just as well as Pompey played them poorly.

As to the possession, O'Neill was trying a tactical shift with Heskey joining; For the last two months, the team's been used to having Petrov in front of the back four, and he distributes from the defending side of the circle to the wings or two additional central midfielders. Switching back to a 4-4-2 sounds easy enough, but does strain the distribution from the back four. Pompey was really the perfect game to try a shift at, because theyre so crap, and I'd expect Villa to hold the ball better against the Latics on Saturday.

Most importantly, this is the type of game Villa would have drawn or lost last year. Early goal, away at a crap opponent, and all the sudden they find themselves picking the ball out of the net at the 85th and/or in stoppage time.

And converting those draws to wins could be an extra 10-20 points, which might be enough to challenge United or whoever else are in first in May.

Plus Bouma's coming back in a few weeks, which means we'll be a lot stronger on both flanks, and will have two guys who can take the ball from the back four themselves.

jjf3 said...

Keith,
I honestly hope you're right that they can stick in til the very end, though I have to admit I'm skeptical. I don't usually buy the whole "they've never been through this before" argument in any sport, but I wouldn't be surprised if Villa IS affected by the sheer number of games left to play, even if MON prioritizes the EPL (which he should).

Joe