Rants and musings from the magazine team
The BBC has tried to name their own 23-man World Cup squad by unveiling THE LARGEST COVERAGE TEAM EVER.
Joining the merry band of Gary Lineker, Mark Lawrenson, Mark Bright, Lee Dixon, Mick McCarthy (argh), Alan Shearer (ARGH), Alan Hansen, Martin Keown and Colin Murray – not forgetting the radio team of Graham Taylor, Chris Waddle, Robbie Savage, David Moyes and Danny Mills – will be four new faces.
First up, Gordon Strachan: an excellent acquisition. Then Jurgen Klinsmann (good), Clarence Seedorf (good) and Emmanuel Adebayor (good God).
Seriously, Adebayor as a pundit? And there we were thinking not having to put up with the knee—sliding fool’s mood swings for a month or so was an advantage of Togo not qualifying.
Arsenal vs Manchester City
Speaking of Adebayor, the recently-retired-from-international-football striker has been told by the FA to “show more intelligence” when he returns to the Emirates this weekend.
Amazingly, they’re not talking about his play on the ball.
Meanwhile, Roberto Mancini has shown an impressive lack of knowledge of his team’s heritage, pointing towards a potential Top Five next season and calling this year's run-in "the most important in the club's history."
Uh...they have won titles, Roberto. Two top-tier league titles, four FA Cups and a European Cup Winners' Cup, to be precise. The older fans won't be happy to suggest finishing fourth, some 15 points off the top, would be the club's biggest achievement.
What Won’t Happen: Adebayor runs the length of the pitch after scoring to celebrate in front of the people who once paid his wages and treated him as one of their own, then stamps on his old team mate. Come on, no one is that much of a ‘character’...
What Will Happen: Ade does lose the plot a bit, but City take home an important point
Bolton vs Portsmouth
Upon hearing Portsmouth's debts are now £120 million – it sounds a lot but remember that's only what Real Madrid paid for Cristiano Ronaldo and half again – this blog decided to take a quick look at their finances.
That you can simply download a form documenting every individual debt, signed by Andrew Andronikou's hand, is extraordinary. It's almost as surreal as seeing perfectly normal debts within. You get used to seeing a football club as an otherworldly entity – then you see they owe money to their landlady, bank and Sky TV, just like the rest of us.
Not to mention £308.50 in ‘ransom payments'. What the hell is that about?
Still, the one that intrigues this blog most is that in all this openness and truth-telling, with every penny pored over with a fine-tooth comb, there remains £21.50 filed under ‘Miscellaneous'.
£21.50. They really might as well just say what it is. But they haven't, which suggests there's something there they don't want us to know…hmm. Interesting.
What Won’t Happen: It turns out said £21.50 was infact money spent by Peter Storrie on magic beans.
What Will Happen: Bolton put themselves mathematically safe
Hull vs Sunderland
As mentioned before by Hull chairman Adam Pearson, the Tigers’ finances are in quite a stunning state of disarray.
Pearson has again blamed former chairman Paul Duffen for creating a ‘doomsday scenario’, gambling on Hull staying up to also stay financially afloat.
Yeah, that’s not going to happen. This blog spies another Portsmouth on the horizon.
It’s still nothing compared to their goal difference though. Their minus 40 haul – worse than Burnley, who have conceded more goals away from home than any Premier League team before them – means finishing level on points just isn't an option.
A win here is absolutely vital, and they also have to hope West Ham slip up at home to erstwhile relegation battlers Wigan.
What Won’t Happen: A team battling relegation shows some economic sense?
What Will Happen: Hull record one of the most important results of their two Premier League seasons to delay the inevitable
Manchester United vs Spurs
After amazing results against Arsenal and Chelsea, can Spurs do it again? If not, they've basically handed the title to United. And let this blog say it again: United will win the title.
If that is the case, Paddy Power are going to regret paying out already on Chelsea to win the title. If the Blues don't lift that trophy, the Irish bookmakers stand to lose around half a million. Ouch.
What Won’t Happen: The run-up to a big match passes without United being linked with signing their opponents’ most in-form player by Fergie’s chums in the press.
What Will Happen: A great game but no, Spurs can't do it again. They do nab a draw though
West Ham vs Wigan
This, right now, is West Ham's chance to practically guarantee safety.
If they win this and Hull lose to Sunderland, it'll take tsunamis and 20-nil defeats to send them down, such is the Tigers' woeful goal difference. If they win this and Hull win too, they're still looking pretty safe.
But remembering their far from impressive performance against Liverpool – it just won't erase from memory, damn it – it's unlikely they're going to put on a master class here.
Wigan have to cope with the recent news about Charles N'Zogbia, which will basically entail them trying not to double over laughing. King N'Zog was arrested over allegations someone else filled in the written part of his driving test. Rock. And. Roll.
What's going on? First El-Hadji Diouf is caught driving without insurance and now this. Where have all the drunk-driving-150-mph-in-a-cul-de-sac speeding footballers gone?
(This blog does not endorse driving dangerously).
N'Zogbia could, let's not forget, still play for England. He's eligible. He's also eligible for France, of course, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
If Capello spurns him, France could do a lot worse – and what's stopping him giving the Africa Cup of Nations a go? Lomana LuaLua plays for Congo DR, as does West Ham's Hérita Ilunga and, uh, Serge Makofo of Rhyl FC.
But what about Congo DR’s Shabani Nonda? Remember him? The 33-year-old ex-Blackburn player is currently a free agent after being released by Galatasaray. Here are some stats: 38 goals in 91 games for Gala, 57 in 115 for AS Monaco before that and 32 international goals in just 49 matches. That's really not bad.
It's amazing West Ham haven't added him to their legion of slow, ageing strikers.
What Won’t Happen: It’s been said before, but what won't happen is a longer non-preview than that this season
What Will Happen: Away win
Wolves vs Blackburn
This blog happens to like Wolves (Mick McCarthy's commentary career aside), but you can't say they’re staying up with style.
Three goalless draws in four games – the other was a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal – has seen them claw towards the finish line and safety like a legless (not drunk, you understand) man in a warzone. It's not been pretty, but it's done the trick.
Still, after four games without a goal, the Molineux faithful are in serious danger of collective suicide. Their beloved club's last match against Fulham set a Premier League record for fewest shots on target: one. And that was in the 89th minute. Talk about patience – that level of boredom is enough to make a grown man cry.
What Won’t Happen: Well, this isn't exactly going to be a thriller either, is it?
What Will Happen: Oh God, it really is going to be another 0-0
Aston Villa vs Birmingham
This is a big derby for Villa; less so for Brum, with nothing to play for but pride. Expect an unusually quiet game.
Unrelated Shoehorned-in European Observation of the Week: Ajax's defence in the Dutch league is mental. That's 17 home games now and four goals conceded. Their goal difference is +83. EIGHTY-THREE.
It's a wonder visiting teams turn up.
What Won’t Happen: Unrelated Shoehorned-In European Observation of the Week to be back next week
What Will Happen: Brum play with the fire in their bellies that's been lacking of late, but Villa's charge for fourth remains on course
Burnley vs Liverpool
It's a bit of a dull relegation run-in now, which is such a shame after it looked like it was going to be so close. But no: Burnley and Hull are almost certainly down d-down down.
A loss in this match virtually rules out a Clarets survival; indeed, if they lose and West Ham win, Burnley are mathematically relegated. And that's the worst kind of relegation.
On the contrary, Liverpool are starting to have a few things go their way. The lack of any Premier League presence in the Champions League semi-finals means the Reds' absence from the knockouts goes down as a part of a collective English failure and not one specific to Merseyside – Rafa is now some kind of pioneer.
And Portsmouth being denied a Europa League place next season means that every one of the four teams challenging for a Champions League spot will at least play in Europe next year – and if Liverpool have a run as good as this year, that's not a disaster.
Reasons to be cheerful? Well, they just lost 1-0 to Atletico Madrid. Make up your own mind.
What Won’t Happen: Burnley's survival starts here
What Will Happen: A tired Liverpool limp to victory
Chelsea vs Stoke
There's no John Terry for Chelsea, but that's not actually much of a loss. He was bloody dreadful against Tottenham; like a confused, naked ape blundering around a garden maze.
When he looked stunned after each booking, it wasn't with the referee but his own catastrophic performance.
So Terry's absence is possibly the good news for Chelsea; the bad news is that John Obi Mikel is a doubt (well, we knew that already) and so is Didier Drogba. Unhappy times.
What Won’t Happen: Anyone to notice how weak England's central defence is. Rio 'n' Terry aren't rock solid any more and Upson doesn't look up to it. Michael Richard Dawson, this is your time
What Will Happen: Chelsea stutter to a draw. It begins...
Everton vs Fulham
It'd be a big surprise if Fulham don't arrive at Goodison Park absolutely cream crackered. Their 58th game of the season comes three days after a match in Germany that involved an epic non-flying journey.
Kudos to the fans who made it: long way to go for no goals.
Zamora limping off was bad news for the Cottagers, and Dempsey played about half an hour longer than they would have liked.
Everton are injury-free for this match, Fellaini obviously aside. The Belgian might not make pre-season, which spells disaster for the club shop's summer sale of comedy afros, perhaps David Moyes should sign Leo Sayer?
What Won’t Happen: Fulham have drawn their last three matches 0-0 but they'll concede here
What Will Happen: The home team has won 16 of the last 17 Premier League fixtures between these two. Good enough for us. Home win
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Chelsea 7 - Stoke 0.
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