Joining the Dots

With the Premier League back in full swing, it’s time to review ‘derby day’, ‘Super’ Sunday, and a fairly dull 3pm on Saturday.


Finally, an early Saturday game which I can’t complain about. Well, these days, instead of challenging for the top four, Everton are somewhere near Watford in the table, wherever that is. So we might as well be getting excited about Watford v Liverpool, but with a few extra yellow cards dished out. Klopp will be on a high after Liverpool’s Champions League domination of Man City in midweek, and he can afford to use all his best players. Well, Mo Salah probably won’t be available after pulling his groin stretching for yet another lucky rebound for the first goal on Wednesday.


With Josh King possibly taking up Callum Wilson’s place as ‘resident Bournemouth striker who seems to score at regular intervals’, Palace could be in for a tough time at the Vitality here. Luka Milivojevic will be excited to take his obligatory penalty, and Jermain Defoe will be looking forward to his 5 minute cameo at the end of the second half. With the Cherries pretty much safe from the threat of relegation, this game takes on far higher importance for Roy Hodgson’s men, so expect a goal or two from the away side here.


This is a real downer isn’t it? The only two teams in the Premier League who you can literally not tell apart, from their blue and white kits to the fact that they are both newly promoted. Which team does Laurent Depoitre even play for? I bet you’ll doubt yourself. They are even three points apart in the bottom half of the league, and will be looking for that win that probably ensures survival. A huge game for Huddersfield, so the battle between the Terriers’ Australian playmaker Aaron Mooy and Brighton’s Australian goalkeeper Matt Ryan, should be interesting. I just checked, and both players were born in Sydney, for crying out loud. The similarities will never end.


Leicester, safely in 8th spot will be taking on Newcastle in yet another underwhelming game. Jamie Vardy, with the same number of goals as Romelu Lukaku this season, has helped fire his team to another season in the top flight next year, where you can guarantee that they’ll finish between 7th and 13th place. Newcastle are far more unpredictable, providing their fans with a crucial late goal to beat fellow relegation flirts Huddersfield last week. They aren’t yet safe enough to breathe easy, but they can certainly enjoy their annoyingly long trip to picturesque Leicester, and the boring affair on the pitch which will ensue.


They say it’s good to learn something new every day… and this week had me learning the real location of Stoke. I know, in the table they are just above West Brom, but what had me shocked is that that’s also their geographical location. Having always heard the “can *any possible team you can imagine* do it in a rainy night at Stoke?” had me thinking Stoke-on-Trent was located somewhere very, very remote, or at least, close enough to Sunderland. Yet the truth is that they’re less than an hour from West Bromwich – what’s so epic about that?

With Harry Kane rubbing his hands having come back from injury in time to face the non-existent Stoke defence, Spurs should put a few past the Potters here. Lambert’s men haven’t improved enough since his appointment, and are still under-performing and stuck in 19th place. They’ll need a result against Spurs here, but with Salah potentially sidelined this weekend, Kane will be up for mounting a challenge for the Golden Boot.


Burnley who are pretty much as good as Arsenal, travel all the way down to Vicarage Road to play against a team with a stand named after Elton John. He had some banging tunes, but some just fizzled out for me. Same goes for the team, who started the season like a rocket, man! Unfortunately, through their nineteenth manager this month, their form is still nothing like it was – fading like a candle in a breeze.


Candidate for poorest quality Premier League match since Derby were relegated, hopeless West Brom host the almost equally hopeless Swansea. Tammy Abraham has scored probably three goals for Swansea, Tom Carroll has done absolutely nothing, and we have all had a good laugh at Renato Sanches. Yet, somehow, there are five teams worse than Swansea in the table. Nobody can wait for this game to be over, so we can finally move on to the Manchester derby. Muting match notifications for this game might improve your day.


Here we go then, the main event comes on Saturday night. Manchester City can finally wrap up the formality that is winning the title, against arch-rivals United. We all know that Jose Mourinho won’t stand for this though, so the competition between City’s attack and United’s defence could be a fascinating one. Who knows, maybe Jose might actually play Romelu Lukaku outside of central defence and try to let him score a goal to dampen City’s spirits even further. Pep Guardiola will be hoping not to lose the derby and get eliminated from the Champions League by Liverpool in the same week – but you can be sure that United and Liverpool fans might join up for a rare glass of wine together if they do.


Southampton have a game in hand, which could prove crucial in their efforts to avoid relegation. But then again, if this happens to be their game in hand, you can forget it. Nobody actually knows when games in hand occur, until jovially mentioned by the match commentators. Arsenal, despite looking shaky, are picking up form again with Aubameyang and Lacazette both bagging braces in their last two games. Don’t remind the Arsenal fans that those games were against Stoke and CSKA Moscow, just let them enjoy it for once. You nasty sods.


We end the gameweek with the worst London derby imaginable. Sky Sports didn’t even put it on their “derby day” Saturday, I mean come on. West Ham are accelerating away from relegation at a snail’s pace, and will likely be held up by Chelsea here. It’s about time for Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard to start linking up again, with all the natural chemistry of a biology lesson. Still, they should have enough in the tank to overcome the Hammers.