Premiership: Full Steam Ahead


Ah the FA Cup, the romance, the giant-killing. Literally. Mr Kanu and Crouch (all 13-14 feet of them; hence the clever giantkilling reference – get it? Ah…..) were among the Portsmouth team who cantered to a defeat at home to Swansea. 2-0 and the holders are out while the likes of Aston Villa, West Brom and Arsenal will have to do it all again after being held to draws by ‘weaker opposition’.  Manchester United and Chelsea will have been thrilled to see their three rivals held, after Liverpool’s draw with Everton, and now attention turns to an important week in the Premiership….

Tuesday:

  • Sunderland V Fulham
  • West Brom V Man Utd – highlights of Man Utd V Spurs below –
  • Tottenham V Stoke
  • Portsmouth V Aston Villa (Sky Sports 2 – 8pm)

These fixtures will all be of significance for teams in varying degrees of form. League leaders Man Utd were comfortable winners over Spurs at the weekend despite falling behind early in the game.  Of greater importance to Alex Ferguson is the mounting injury list which claimed the impressive Fabio Da Silva and the less impressive Danny Wellbeck (already beginning to look like Utd’s answer to Nicholas Bendtner) at the weekend. With the likes of Ferdinand, Evans, Brown and Saha already out, Utd’s back line will again see Neville and Vidic paired at the back. This means that Darren Fletcher will drop to right back. While most people will look at this fixture and say Utd are bankers, West Brom like to play a bit of football. What they lack in talent they make up for in attitude and I fancy them to at least run United close tomorrow night. Tony Mowbray will see this as a crucial game with the relegation battle set to feature anything up to 14 teams at present. A win over Utd would likely take the Baggies, who’ve take nine points from their last 15, out of the relegation area and would set the team up for survival with buckets of confidence going into the weekend clash with freefalling Hull.

Johnny Evans (left) joins Wayne Rooney (centre) on the sidelines as Edwin Van Der Saar (right) looks on

Johnny Evans (left) joins Wayne Rooney (centre) on the sidelines as Edwin Van Der Saar (right) looks on and Cristiano Ronaldo (far left) goes down under the car's challenge

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Sunderland (no wins in four) entertain Fulham (no wins in three). Another six pointer, with Fulham only five points above the relegation area despite their recent impressive run. Sunderland have lost Chimbonda (back to Spurs) and are clinging on to star striker Kenwyne Jones despite Spragia’s boast that the club would not be selling players in January. Fulham still look good, and if not good, solid and with Andy Johnson beginning to get a few goals, will fancy their chances at the Stadium of Fright.

I fancy another surprise at Fratton Park. It takes a brave man to bet on Portsmouth but having signed Pele today (18-year-old lad from Portugal, not legend to all erectile dysfunction sufferers) as well as solid players in Pennant and Mullins, coupled with Ashley Young’s suspension for Villa, Martin O’Neill’s men may be running out of legs. I hate that expression. Villa look tired,. There you go, bit better. Despite fielding a full-strengt side, Villa were held by Doncaster at the weekend and a trip to Portsmouth won’t look too enticing just a few days later. With Wigan, Blackburn, Chelsea, a replay against Doncaster and a trip to CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Cup within the next four weeks, it’ll be a bruising month for Villa and may see them slip behind the Premiership contenders, starting with a win for Tony Adams’ men tomorrow.

The final game sees Tottenham entertain Stoke, entertain being used in the loosest possible sense. Gone are the day of Harry’s “I’m so proud of the boys, you can’t match them for honesty or commitment” to be relaced by “Ah for Fac** sake you blee***g tw** I would’ve fac*** put that one away and you bein paid 50 fack*** grand a week, daylight fack*** robbery.”
Spurs are on a horrendous run, their last Premiership win coming against West Ham on December 8, and they will need to beat Stoke, especially when they look at their next five games. Bolton (a), Arsenal (h), Hull (a), Villa (a) and Chelsea (h). Redknapp has started his cheeky “we’d love to bring him here” hints on Robbie Keane now, having secured the services of Palacios from Wigan and with the hope of unsettling Jones at Sunderland enough to get his man there too.
Only Stoke can match Spurs for the mother of all shite runs in the Premiership, their last win coming on November 22 at home to West Brom. However Tony Pulis will take heart from the fact that they remain level with Spurs and after a winter break in Dubai and the return of Ricardo Fuller after suspension, Stoke have enough to give Spurs a fright tomorrow. A Stoke win would put Spurs in serious trouble……(watch this space)

Wednesday sees Chelsea take on Boro, Man City entertain Newcastle, Wigan take on Liverpool, Blackburn play Bolton, Everton meet Arsenal and West Ham play Hull….(previews tomorrow night)

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