Welcome back to Joining the Dots. Once again, I’ll try to make the Premier League fixtures support the statement that the PL is still the best league in Europe. Just a quick question for you: what will last longer, Richarlison’s goal drought or Wenger’s managerial role at Arsenal?
Burnley v Everton
Two middle-aged men from the Midlands take their middle of the table teams out to play, this Saturday at midday. Dyche and Allardyce will bring Burnley and Everton together, getting this gameweek off to a traditional dull whimper. Nobody wants to nurse their Friday hangover watching Oumar Niasse desperately try to prove that he doesn’t belong in League 1. I’d be very surprised if this game served up more than a couple of goals. And by ‘goal’, I don’t mean in the normal sense. I mean a scrappy close-range half-volley from a corner, which the defenders made a right mess of clearing.
Leicester v Bournemouth
Riyad Mahrez once again has to play in the Kingpower stadium, where he hasn’t wanted to be for a couple of years now. But, he’ll have to try and assist Jamie Vardy for a goal or two here, as the others in the team don’t seem particularly capable of that. Jack Butland just threw the ball into the net for the Leicester goal last week – something you’d only see if you were losing on FIFA and switched sides for a bit. The gameweek before last, Vardy scored a goal without an official assist being credited. In short, the Foxes are pretty reliant on Vardy’s goalscoring, whilst Bournemouth in this case are pretty reliant on the snow continuing into the weekend.
Southampton v Stoke
Another contender for the most boring match-up there could possibly be in the Premier League – and this one would probably make it quite far into that contest. At least if Stoke were at home, we would look forward to the teams battling it out in the northern rain and cold, with some tough tackles going in. But, it’s in Southampton. The weather will be milder. The tackles will be weak. The fans will be well-behaved. The football will be tear-inducing.
Tottenham v Huddersfield
Huddersfield may have some hope here if they wear a Newport or Rochdale strip. If that doesn’t work, just bring in the officials who were in charge of VAR in Spurs’ last outing. With a Son Heung-Min penalty being disallowed and not retaken, and another goal disallowed, Spurs may just be ready to take out their frustration on poor Huddersfield at Wembley on Saturday. Harry Kane hasn’t scored a hat-trick for a while, and Dele Alli hasn’t been sighted for a month or ten. They’re both due to get back in the action.
Swansea v West Ham
The Swans look to take on the Hammers, which wouldn’t end well for the Swans if we weren’t talking about football here. With West Ham making a visit to South Wales, they aim to take all three points which would put them halfway towards their best winning streak of 2 whole matches. Both defences will look shaky, both strike forces will resemble Championship level, and both managers will stand on the touchlines with their hands in their pockets, powerless to fix the mess in front of their eyes. One of the teams will escape with a 1-0 victory, their identity is up to you to decide. I’d just put the names in a hat if I were you.
Watford v West Brom
Two teams which have both employed Allan Nyom at the heart of their defence don’t deserve Premier League success, and they both couldn’t be further away from achieving that. West Brom can already smell the second-rate hot dogs served in Championship grounds, and Watford might hang on to Premier League status if key players like Richarlison pick up the pace. Last week I said he hadn’t scored for ages, but now it is an actual fact that he hasn’t scored a single goal since Watford’s meeting with West Ham on the 19th November. Since Richarlison last scored a goal, Donald Trump has tweeted 622 times, and the same gerbil could have given birth 4 different times.
Liverpool v Newcastle
The games finally start to heat up on Saturday evening, as we have now got all of the compulsory rubbish out of the way. Newcastle could provide a decent challenge to high-flying Liverpool – they managed to beat Man. United a few weeks ago, but absolutely bottled a 2-0 lead against Bournemouth last week. This game could go any way at all. The only thing more likely than burning your hot-cross bun in the toaster this Easter, is Mo Salah scoring goals for Liverpool though. His consistency may be the difference here.
Brighton v Arsenal
Arsene Wenger guides his troops to Brighton, which means they probably won’t get there. Man City v Chelsea is at 4pm, so they could just make Brighton play Arsenal while that goes on, and nobody has to sit through it. Also, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang may already have signed for Dortmund again by Sunday, so things aren’t looking up for the Gunners.
Man City v Chelsea
If only this match were relevant to the league title, there may be a reason to get particularly excited about it. If Willian scores first for Chelsea, then Guardiola’s men will have reason to celebrate – Chelsea have bottled a Willian lead in consecutive games against Barcelona and Man. United. City will probably get their customary goal thanks to some shocking defending, but then again they aren’t playing Arsenal anymore, so we’ll see.
Crystal Palace v Man United
Romelu Lukaku will be up for this – he has been a changed man since scoring his first goal against a team who don’t resemble Shrewsbury defensively. He’s tweeted the FA with plans for an All-Star game, and also tweeted the makers of FIFA asking for increased acceleration on FIFA 18. Crystal Palace probably won’t be able to stop him, as they haven’t won a game since January 13th.