It’s that time of the week again, here at Joining the Dots. Having spent plenty of time watching Arsene Wenger and Manchester City with amazement, one certainly more positive than the other, join me in taking a look at the fresh fixtures thrown up by the Premier League this week.
MANCHESTER UNITED V LIVERPOOL
What’s this? A Saturday lunchtime game which can’t be slept through? A historic rivalry, instead of a fixture which hasn’t had more than a single goal to its name in the last nine occasions. After United managed a pretty unconvincing win over Crystal Palace last time out, Liverpool’s deadly attack will be looking to exploit the same defensive frailties which Andros Townsend actually managed to find. Let’s not pretend that Salah and Firmino won’t have some joy here – United have been quite shambolic at the back as of late. Looking at you, Chris Smalling. Romelu Lukaku, however, is somehow hitting form despite all those around him being invisible. This could involve goals at both ends, especially if Alexis Sanchez’ transfer is eventually completed! What’s that you say…?
EVERTON V BRIGHTON
The Seagulls look to rip into the Toffees here, which is probably well against feeding restrictions. You can’t even throw them bread these days. Everton’s spineless run of form under Sam Allardyce will look particularly tasty to Chris Hughton’s men, who will be on a high after beating Arsenal. Well, looking at Arsenal, they should just stay quite level-headed. Brighton’s run of form has been achieved without even using their record signing, Jürgen Locadia, which says something about Glenn Murray’s recent goal tally. Everton’s defenders might want to watch their back at Goodison Park on Saturday, which judging by Ashley Williams’ latest horrifying display, he already does all game.
HUDDERSFIELD V SWANSEA
If all the fixtures this week were part of a chocolate selection box, this one would be the raspberry flavoured one, nobody wanting to even think about unwrapping it, all alone in the corner of the box. No striker in this game, by the way, will ever find themselves all alone in the corner of the box. There’s more chance of post-season West Brom doing some summer training in Barcelona, than clear chances in this game. Just avoid.
NEWCASTLE V SOUTHAMPTON
A rather long trip for Southampton fans to make, don’t you think? What on earth will they be thinking when they hop back on their fifth connecting train from London St Pancras, at 10:30pm, about the abysmal stuff they just paid hundreds of pounds to see? “If only Gabbiadini hadn’t missed that fourth minute penalty, we wouldn’t have spent the 80 minutes after Paul Dummett’s tenth minute header playing some disgustingly ugly football, only to end up losing 1-0 anyway. Oh well, at least I’ll be back in sunny Southampton soon.”
WEST BROM V LEICESTER
The Baggies face the Foxes in a much shorter trip for the away fans, this time. That won’t minimise the disappointment though, which will accompany a realisation amongst them. One that whispers to them that the 2015/16 league winners, are desperately hanging onto a 1-0 lead against a West Brom team even worse than that Derby one, which everyone references when they need a bad team to reference. Both of these teams haven’t had a win for at least 5 games, so the scenes may turn ugly with desperation here.
WEST HAM V BURNLEY
Talking of ugly, that takes us to David Moyes and Sean Dyche facing off in London on Saturday. Hopefully Burnley remember to bring their away kit, otherwise we’ll be left with a situation similar to that meme where there’s two Spidermen pointing at each other. West Ham somehow received a humiliating result against Swansea last week, so facing an actual football team like Burnley could prove troubling.
CHELSEA V CRYSTAL PALACE
If you ever feel like your life isn’t progressing as you hoped, be thankful that you aren’t Alvaro Morata. He was probably pleased in the summer, signing for the Premier League champions. As a striker, being told that you’re trusted to score goals for the best team in England is a very nice thing to hear. Fast forward to mid-March, and the Spanish striker is currently being held out of the team by nothing. An actual, empty space. Antonio Conte prefers using no striker, to an actual striker. No matter what, they’ll probably win this game by three or four goals anyway.
ARSENAL V WATFORD
Only Arsene Wenger could make a team play so poorly as to get soundly beaten by Brighton, and a few days later beat AC Milan, who hadn’t conceded a goal for over 500 minutes. Well, everyone is jumping for joy, but the truth is that Milan do lay 7th in Serie A, below Sampdoria. I don’t think you’re out of the woods yet Arsene – let’s see how you do against a team with proper players like Andre Gray.
BOURNEMOUTH V SPURS
This is a typical game in which Bournemouth play like Barcelona. Callum Wilson morphs into Messi after the 80th minute and scores a brace which puts Spurs behind. Pochettino’s men won’t be in the best frame of mind after their heartbreaking defeat to Juventus in the week, so we’ll be lucky if they even show up to such an irrelevant fixture. If we do get a game, we’ll if Bournemouth will pile on the misery or succumb to an enraged Tottenham team.
STOKE V MANCHESTER CITY
This will start with Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher’s slightly irritating expressions on Monday Night Football, and their ‘laddish’ pre-match banter, which will no doubt include plenty of criticism about Arsenal’s loss to Watford. This will probably be the highlight of the evening, as the action from Stoke will no doubt be enough to make us want to watch re-runs of Leicester’s 1-1 draw with Bournemouth last week. We’ll have to see City run rings around a team for what seems like the fourth time in a week, as Stoke fail to get the ball further up the pitch than Joe Allen.