Rants and musings from the magazine team
Weekend fixtures: Arsenal vs Stoke City, Aston Villa vs Hull City, Blackburn Rovers vs Liverpool, Manchester City vs Chelsea, Portsmouth vs Burnley, West Ham United vs Manchester United, Wigan Athletic vs Birmingham City, Wolves vs Bolton Wanderers, Everton vs Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham vs Sunderland.
Wake up, 'Arry!
Don't worry, the cups are over for a while – back to your favourite competition, the good old money-spinning Premier League.
One thing before we knuckle down to the predictions – don't forget to keep up with the live World Cup draw here on FourFourTwo.com (if it hasn't already happened by the time you're reading this).
And if it has already happened by the time you're reading this – what about that World Cup draw, eh?
How (un)lucky were England? Did you see that bit when Robbie Keane ran on stage and used the French ball to choke Charlize Theron?
Arsenal vs Stoke
Ninth-placed Stoke potter down to London with justified hope of a result against Arsenal.
One ankle injury and the Gooners have transformed from a team that had scored in every match into a team that hasn't netted in three domestic games.
No longer are they knocking them in for fun, and Arsene Wenger has reacted in typically mature fashion by refusing to shake Mark Hughes' hand after Manchester City's 3-0 cup win midweek.
Sparky's let bygones be bygones, though, saying he'll happily shake Wenger's hand in the future (but only if he's wiped his *rse with it first).
What won't happen: Arsene Wenger to grow up?
What will happen: Quite a tough one to call, this, since Arsenal's goals dried up in VP's absence. The Potters to record a deserving draw
Aston Villa vs Hull
Jimmy Bullard's goal celebration last week – sitting the players down in a circle and telling them off – was one of the best football's ever seen, but sadly Phil Brown had to go and ruin it.
Watching Brown chuckle along was like watching Nick Griffin on Question Time trying to be one of the lads, laughing along as people concentrated their entire hatred on him.
Yes, I just compared Phil Brown to the leader of the British National Party. I really, really don't like him.
What won't happen: Me. To stop hating. Phil Brown. Ever
What will happen: Villa to win
Blackburn vs Liverpool
Rovers haven't hit the net in more than three hours of Premier League football, but a triple against Chelsea in midweek will have settled nerves of a drought.
A match against Liverpool isn't an ideal way for Big Sam to recover from heart surgery, but he should be fine as long as Ngog's playing.
Did you know his name is French for 'Why On Earth Is This Man Playing Football?'
El Hadji Diouf comes up against his old team. Paul Ince, Rovers manager when these teams met this time last year, does not.
What won't happen: Liverpool fans to sing Diouf's praises every time he gets the ball
What will happen: Reds ram-raid Rovers – 2-0 away win
Manchester City vs Chelsea
It's the big one! The Blues vs the Light Blues – light blue touch paper and retire because THIS cracker is going to go off!
There, that's the excitement out of the way.
These teams have both beaten Arsenal 3-0 in the past seven days, giving them something in common beyond Eastern oligarchs throwing money at them, maniacally giggling, "Dance, dance."
The difference is that Chelsea's win mattered.
But can Manchester City grab a win to avoid eight – EIGHT – league draws in a row?
Do pigs make pilots?
What won't happen: Wayne Bridge to make Chelsea fans think: "We sold the wrong left-back."
What will happen: City's seven-match drawing streak to come to an end... with defeat
Portsmouth vs Burnley
Pompey's players need paying.
For the second time this season they're being made to wait impatiently for their pay cheques.
They should be made to stand outside JobCentrePlus in the rain for the full 1950s Soviet Russia effect.
Still, they'll be all right if any of them have a goal bonus in their contract.
This weekend they face Burnley, whose Odysseus-esque travails on their travels (no wins, one draw, six defeats) continued when they gave struggling West Ham a 5-0 headstart. The Hammers got bored and made a game of it towards the end, but all credit to Chris Eagles and Steven Fletcher – who gave up a hat-trick to provide an assist – for taking the chances.
It'll be good practice for this week.
What won't happen: The Portsmouth players to stage a sit-in protest on the pitch, refusing to get up and play until they're paid. Burnley, with an 11-man advantage, lose 4-0.
What will happen: Goals. The Pomp are bottom and Burnley have conceded 25 goals in seven away games. My Monopoly money's on a 2-2 draw.
West Ham vs Manchester United
Fair play to Manchester United: when the statistics about just how much money Premier League clubs pay to agents were revealed earlier this week, they came out of it pretty well.
In the agents fees' league table, Fergie's lot were near the cheap end at the bottom (Stoke and Burnley deserve credit too, for having good seasons while spending less than anyone else).
West Ham, meanwhile, were fifth in the spending stakes, 12 places higher than their real league position.
But never mind, because they've located the net at last, scoring five against Burnley last week (let's forget the defence for a minute – they did).
No Carlton Cole for this fixture though.
What won't happen: Darron Gibson to captain Ireland to World Cup glory (if they're not going to stop talking about it, I don't see why I should)
What will happen: Roger Federer to complete a Gillette embarrassment hat-trick by admitting he's addicted to crystal meth. Oh, in the football? Away win.
Wigan vs Birmingham
Two teams I wasn't expecting to see in mid-table meet to congratulate each other on their success.
The Blues haven't lost in six matches, and that was away at the Emirates, while Wigan's victory over Sunderland put me out of pocket and them five points clear of the relegation zone.
It's mightily close, though: with three teams level on 17 points, Wigan would love a win to leapfrog Brum and move closer towards safety.
What won't happen: Roberto Martinez to envy Alex McLeish's injury list – while Wigan are crock-free, Brum are without Messrs Johnson, Parnaby, Tainio, Murphy, Taylor and O'Connor
What will happen: Wigan's post-'Arrypocalypse rebuilding to continue with a hard-fought win
Wolves vs Bolton
Team news: they're both rubbish.
What won't happen: Michael Kightly to make the field any time soon (eight weeks, to be precise)
What will happen: The six-pointer compass to point Wolves' way for once
Everton vs Spurs
'Arry needs to make a point here – or rather, three.
In the past Spurs would have been happy with a draw at Goodison, but now they're showing the big boys they mean business – and now the Toffees are 16th – this has to be a win.
Apart from anything else, announcing as manager of a cup team that you prioritise league over cup, then losing in said cup, kind of puts you under a bit of pressure not to lose in the league as well.
For Everton, meanwhile, it was a case of Yobo Ono in the Merseyside derby as the Nigerian expertly steered a safety-bound shot into his own net.
Then Diniyar Bil...ya...let...dinov? (right first time!) made it very clear he has more letters in his name than talent in his feet, hooking a sitter wide of the post.
To call him shocking would be an insult to electric eels.
What won't happen: A better Yobo pun all year (because there's not long left)
What will happen: A Bilyaletdinov pun to continue to elude me. Oh, and Spurs to win.
Fulham vs Sunderland
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn wins my inaugural (and, in all likelihood, only) Common Sense Of The Week award for saying players should pay their own agency fees.
Doesn't stop the FA disagreeing, though.
Kenwyne Jones should return in time from a dead leg sustained in a reserves game (nice going), while Fulham will thank the fixture list makers for an extra day off after a gruelling win over Sofia Coppolla on Thursday.
What won't happen: Sunderland's long, long trip to be completely wasted
What will happen: A good game to end in a draw
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