Your weekly dose of Joining the Dots is back. If you’re a Liverpool fan, please don’t hate me and know this: I TRULY believe you’ll win the Champions League this year.
But now let’s focus on the Premier League:
SWANSEA V ARSENAL
This weekend I was waiting for something to happen in the FA Cup so that I could mock Arsene Wenger for a bit when writing this (who doesn’t love doing that?) but on Sunday I realised… they were already out! BY NOTTINGHAM FOREST! (Well, actually, fair enough, Forest have more European Cup titles than the Gunners.)
Going back to the fixture, I wrongly predicted Arsenal’s failure against Palace last week, as they ended up winning 4-1. So, it’d be foolish of me to try again. But… have you seen Mkhitaryan’s face in the official photo with the Arsenal kit? If this is the enthusiasm Arsenal players have to try and get the club to play Champions League football again, maybe even Bony – who God knows why and how scored 6 goals for Man City at some point – will surprise the Gunners this week.
WEST HAM V CRYSTAL PALACE
Here we have two teams who play in rather different shades of red and blue, and also manage to play two very different shades of crap football. Impressive.
West Ham are in turmoil at the moment, conceding two goals to Wigan which has possibly never happened to any team before. Crystal Palace, like an injured bird, spent a long time feeling sorry for themselves on the floor before getting up for a bit. It’s quite likely that they’ll soon be cowering right back where they started, with games against Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs in the near future.
The winner of this game will get a brief break from the weekly drudgery, so there’s always that. Unless it’s a draw. Then God help us all get through that on MOTD.
HUDDERSFIELD V LIVERPOOL
Liverpool aren’t digesting Coutinho’s exit properly. Klopp’s men have failed to get a victory from their games against Swansea and West Brom in the league and FA Cup ever since the Brazilian joined… well, a much better team than Liverpool. If this doesn’t sound tragic enough, it’s worth mentioning that both West Brom and Swansea lay comfortably at the bottom of the table.
So, all this considered… I’d truly expect Liverpool to maintain their low morale and struggle to beat the Terriers. In the end, all they have at the moment is a very, very fast Egyptian who has scored many goals but… let’s be honest… he lacks quality, doesn’t he?
CHELSEA V BOURNEMOUTH
The Cherries may be fancying their chances here, against a somewhat depleted Chelsea side. Alvaro Morata has come up with more excuses to miss work than someone with a Thursday morning hangover, and Fabregas and Courtois had an accident in training which could rule them both out.
All of Bournemouth’s games since the start of December have involved more than one goal, and the one game that didn’t was at Old Trafford so that’s just expected. Some more goals at Stamford Bridge may be the order of the day, and Chelsea’s worryingly frequent capacity to bottle it against the lower sides could ensure a competitive game.
EVERTON V LEICESTER
Since they won the league, who even gets excited about Leicester anymore? Especially after they appointed Puel as manager and their defensive style of play makes them ALMOST as boring as van Gaal’s Manchester United. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they have been getting some impressive results but nothing can compare to the miracle we all experienced in 2016.
On the other hand, there’s Everton… who haven’t finished worse than 11th or better than 5th since 2005 – and well, that’s boring too.
Tragically, the Toffees haven’t won a game for over a month, despite spending £183m (shouldn’t they have just signed Neymar and that’s it?), so they really should be trying to get some points against Leicester.
NEWCASTLE V BURNLEY
What could two clubs who had the foresight to sign Joey Barton possibly serve up? Now that he’s a part of their respective histories, the dull affair which you’d be right to expect may just pan out. I sometimes cannot work out what possesses the Spanish Andy Carroll which Newcastle pin their hopes on, but I also cannot work out what Burnley possess. Three things to expect – a defensive game, plenty of shots off target, and loads of shouting from two balding managers who probably wish they had more hair.
SOUTHAMPTON V BRIGHTON
I’m sitting here, wondering to myself and asking my boyfriend what I can write about this game. I head to the PL webpage and check the statistics of the head-to-head between these two clubs and…
Brighton goals: 1
Southampton goals: 1
And the outstanding game had 4 yellow cards.
It’d probably be fair to say that what the players from both teams should do is stay in their respective coastal cities and watch the sea, maybe even sunbathe.
But then I think, actually… this is an amazing fixture: the contest of what striker is more guilty for their team to be already smelling Championship football: Hemed or Gabbiadini? (Both have less goals than Otamendi!)
MANCHESTER CITY V WEST BROM
After Man City survived the massacre in Cardiff, we’re hoping there’s still some players with no broken legs and available to face West Brom. In the first half of the season, the score was 3-2 to Man City, and the Baggies managed to knock Liverpool out of the FA Cup during the weekend (also 3-2), so it wouldn’t be crazy to think this is actually going to be an entertaining game… ending in a routine win for the home team.
SPURS V MANCHESTER UNITED
On the one hand, Man United have been very predictable this season. They always play averagely (let’s say 6 out of 10). They score in minute 60 (probably Lingard or even Mata). And then pathetically struggle to hold the 1-0 until the 88th minute… when… BOOM! Pogba, Lukaku, Martial and whoever wants to join the party, make it 4-0 and make it look like Man United are the team that once were.
On the other hand, Spurs have also been extremely average and surprisingly inconsistent, in comparison to last season. You never know whether Kane is going to be inspired and humiliate their opponents just for the sake of it. You don’t know if they’re gonna struggle to beat a League 2 team. And you cannot know either if their only hope in the game is going to be Heung Min Son.
So, if I had to place a bet in this, why not Mourinho being sent off to the stands? Because just like both teams, this is so predictably unpredictable.
STOKE V WATFORD
With the capture of Gerard Deulofeu from the Nou Camp confirmed, and a new manager in place, (I don’t know who it is either) Watford may be on course to replicate their early season form. Which they should probably think about doing before they end up in the Championship.
But Deulofeu couldn’t do it on a sunny mid-afternoon in Barcelona, so why would he be able to do it on a dark evening in Stoke? He’s already proven his potential for averageness at Everton, so Watford could have a dud on their hands.
Stoke are in a similar position, with a new manager slightly less exotic than Watford’s, and a new signing slightly less exotic than just about anyone in Stephen Ireland. We’ll see, we may be able to extract some fun out of this fixture yet.