A quick look at the midweek fixtures and time for you guys to make your predictions.
Tuesday 14th August, 2007
Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton
Contrary to some critics, Tottenham have no need to panic about losing to Sunderland. A home game, against genuine 5th spot rivals, should be enough to motivate the players to produce the form that is expected of them.
Jol could keep the same back four or probably bring in Rocha for Gardner, but apart from that the changes I would expect are in midfield, where a lack of width will be punished by Everton’s midfield.
Everton for me have to be more clinical and aggressive against the Spurs than they were in away games last season. You’d think that Moyes will be disappointed if Everton don’t get 3 points, and if Spurs don’t get full points, they’ll be massacred by the press (undeservingly – there’s no need to criticise them on the back of one or two performances – if you must, you should at least look at the big picture and the season gone by).
Soccerlens Prediction: Spurs to win.
Wednesday 15th August, 2007
Birmingham City vs Sunderland
Oh, this will be a good game. Brum put two past Cech and generally looked lively; Sunderland were perhaps not as impressive but got the win and most importantly prevented Tottenham from scoring.
Sunderland’s forwards (please start with Chopra, Keano) will do better against Birmingham, even in an away game while McShane, Nosworthy and co. will definitely have a better time.
Remains to be seen if Sunderland will be as wasteful though.
Birmingham are looking better than they’ve been given credit for and this is a game Steve Bruce will kill to win.
Soccerlens Prediction: Draw.
Fulham vs Bolton Wanderers
Fulham and Bolton had contrasting games – Fulham started well and ended poorly while Bolton did the opposite. Bolton will be sure to improve but Fulham are at home and Healy will probably get a goal against Bolton’s leaky defense.
Soccerlens Prediction: Fulham to win, and Lawrie Sanchez to whinge.
Manchester City vs Derby County
Both teams performed way over expectations on the weekend, but this should be an easy game for Eriksson’s new men.
Soccerlens Prediction: Man City to win, and possibly top the table on goal difference.
Portsmouth vs Manchester United
Pompey and United both need to improve from their day one showings, drastically. United will start with Tevez and perhaps with Nani as well, because I’ll be damned if Silvestre and Evra are to combine again on the left flank and leave the club looking like a pack of jokers.
United will find it hard to break down the Portsmouth defense – a repeat of Sunday will not work, 20+ chances or not.
Soccerlens Prediction: United to win, although I have a sneaky suspicion that it will be a draw.
Reading vs Chelsea
This is a must-watch game, even if both sides are more ‘discipline’ than ‘flair’. Reading’s showing on Sunday was very encouraging while Birmingham exposed some games in Chelsea’s defence, particularly right-back (go back and see Kapo’s goal).
I wonder if Alex will get a game, and if Johnson will be dumped or not.
Soccerlens Prediction: Chelsea to win, but could be a surprise draw.
Wigan Athletic vs Middlesbrough
Two of the 4 worst sides of the weekend (West Ham and Bolton are the other 2) go head-to-head and it’ll be a good opportunity to see how Wigan’s new signings perform at home.
Soccerlens Prediction: Wigan to win.
In addition, 3 of the midweek fixtures were postponed because of European commitments – causing Arsene Wenger to throw out his first whinge of the new season. And speaking of whingers, this season Jose Mourinho will have tough, tough competition from Fulham manager Lawrie Sanchez, who spoke before the Arsenal game about how Arsenal were behind Chelsea and Manchester United, and after one of his players dove during the game and a clear-cut penalty against them was not given (although Hleb did go to the ground easily the ‘next time), complained about Arsenal players being divers. Classic Mourinho, except that Fulham isn’t that good.
Anyways, those 3 fixtures:
Liverpool vs West Ham – sparing the Hammers more humiliation / giving the Hammers time to get their shit together (neither makes sense – they’ll get humiliated the next time and they’ve already had the whole summer to get their shit together and that didn’t work too well, did it?).
Blackburn Rovers vs Aston Villa – both are the antithesis of glamour teams but fiercely competitive and actually talented – would have been a good game to watch.
Newcastle United vs Arsenal – another good game I’m going to be looking forward to.