Premier League Preview – Jan. 23-27
It might only be for five days, but Manchester United has the chance to jump Arsenal and Chelsea in the league standings when it welcomes Hull City for the only Premier League game scheduled for the weekend on Saturday.
Now, let’s run through the games, scattered like ashes across five days on any given calendar…
Manchester United vs. Hull City
Two teams without any FA Cup action fit in a make-up game Saturday at the Theatre of Dreams.
Table watch: Manchester United is on 47 points in third place while Hull City is on 19 points in 18th position.
Anti-social?: United is cracking down on Twitter and Facebook, banning players from social networking sites this week.
In and out: United defender John O’Shea has been shut down for the season with a blood clot in his leg. Hull’s newest loan acquisition, Amir Zaki, isn’t yet match fit, but should be in the starting 11 for the Tigers soon.
Portsmouth vs. West Ham
David Sullivan and David Gold’s first match as owners of West Ham will provide a visit to Fratton Park on Tuesday.
Table watch: Portsmouth is in 20th place on 14 points while West Ham is in 16th spot with 19 points.
Any publicity is good publicity, right?: Portsmouth has been in the news in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons. Between unstable ownership, rotating managers, other clubs asking for money, a transfer embargo and the league withholding TV money to pay off other clubs owed money, it’s a wonder Pompey has an many points as it does.
That said, the south coast club is only five points from safety with 64 points still on offer.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Fulham
Spurs, still holding on to the fourth and final Champions League slot, welcomes Fulham to White Hart Lane Tuesday.
Table watch: Tottenham is in fourth place on 38 points while Fulham is in ninth place on 27 points.
Shaking it off: After falling victim to a brace from Dirk Kuyt in a 2-0 loss at Liverpool, Spurs need a result to regain their momentum. Of course, Fulham – winless in four matches since a 3-0 win over Man U back in December – could use a little good news as well.
First things first: Both clubs will be busy this weekend, as Fulham visits Accrington Stanley and Spurs play host to Leeds United.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Liverpool
Don’t look now, but the left-for-dead Reds are just one point out of fourth place as they travel to Molineux Tuesday.
Table watch: Wolves are in 17th position on 19 points while Liverpool is in sixth spot on 37 points.
Turning point?: The recent win over Spurs – without Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres – has pumped a bit of life into what must be termed a disappointing campaign so far. But a trip to Wolverhampton followed by home dates with Bolton and Everton might help Liverpool make a run at a ticket for the 2010-2011 Champions League.
No rotation?: Wolves’ boss Mick McCarthy, facing an FA Cup tie with Crystal Palace on Saturday, isn’t planning on running out the reserves this weekend.
“I’ll be playing a strong team again because we want to win the game,” McCarthy told The Express and Star. “Especially because we’ve just lost to Wigan at home. It’s another home game and we want to win it. And a win in the FA Cup can only help us and give us confidence.”
Bolton Wanderers vs. Burnley
Three weeks ago, this fixture at the Reebok might not have been all that appealing…
Table watch: Bolton is in 19th place on 18 points while Burnley is in 15th place on 20 points.
The Owen Coyle saga: Coyle led Burnley to the Premier League last season, but a few weeks ago, he decided to pack up and move to Bolton after Gary Megson’s firing.
Think there might be a chant or two from the traveling supporters?
Aston Villa vs. Arsenal
By the time this game kick off on Wednesday, the Gunners may need a result at Villa Park to move back into first place.
Table watch: Aston Villa is in seventh place on 36 points while Arsenal is in first place on 48 points.
FA Cup duty: Villa hosts Brighton Saturday in a cup tie while Arsenal visits Stoke City for a Sunday meeting.
The other cup: Thanks to a stirring 6-4 win over Blackburn Wednesday, Aston Villa booked a place in the Feb. 28 Carling Cup final against one of the Manchester squads.
Blackburn Rovers at Wigan Athletic
Mid-table clubs clash at Ewood Park on Wednesday.
Table watch: Blackburn is in 12th spot on 24 points while Wigan is in 14th spot on 22 points.
Playing and waiting: Blackburn will be trying to get over a come-from-ahead Carling Cup loss to Villa this weekend while Wigan make a trip to Notts County for a FA Cup affair.
Chelsea vs. Birmingham
The Blues will put their league-leading home record on the line when top-10 upstarts Birmingham come calling.
Table watch: Chelsea has 48 points and trails Arsenal only in goals scored for the race for the EPL title. Birmingham is in eighth place on 33 points.
Weekend work: Chelsea visits Deepdale for a match with Preston North End in FA Cup action Saturday while Birmingham faces a road test against Everton.
Everton vs. Sunderland
Everton will look to push deeper into the top 10 when it hosts Sunderland on Wednesday.
Table watch: Everton is in 10th place on 26 points while Sunderland is 13th spot on 23 points.
Cup tied: As mentioned, Everton is at home this weekend for cup play while Sunderland invades Fratton Park for a clash with Portsmouth.
He said it:
“Landon has had an opportunity to make a big difference and he has played a huge role for Everton in their past couple of games. It is great for him and great for the club.
“This is not only good for him, but it works really well for us leading up to the World Cup. He is such an influential player for us, and for him to be in this kind of situation at Everton, playing in England, is key.” – U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley, talking to Sky Sports about American international and Everton loanee Landon Donovan.