Premier League Preview – Feb. 27-28
Hi Roberto, welcome to life in the Premier League.
Once upon a time, Roberto Mancini rode in on a white horse, donned a dashing scarf and sparked hopes of not only sneaking Manchester City into the top four, but winning a trophy of some sort to snap decades worth of frustration in that area.
It started well enough, but after a lifeless home draw with equally enigmatic Liverpool last week and a crash out of the FA Cup at the hands of Stoke City, the Italian’s honeymoon at Eastlands looks to be over.
Of course, a win at Stamford Bridge against front-running Chelsea on Saturday would brighten the club’s mood considerably.
As you can see from a glance at the table…
City’s title hopes are pretty much dashed, but a spot in the top four is still very much in reach.
Apart, but together: City full back Wayne Bridge turned down an England call-up because he didn’t want to share anything else with Chelsea skipper John Terry, but the two men will likely be on the field together this weekend.
The daddy returns: Carlos Tevez is expected to feature after spending some time in Argentina for the birth of his second child.
There are seven other games on the slate this weekend, not including the Cup final between Aston Villa and Manchester United on Sunday at Wembley.
Want to know where to watch games on TV?
Now, on to the rest of the matches…
Birmingham vs. Wigan Athletic - Birmingham welcomes the Latics for a Saturday match and the home side will look to add to its unbeaten run at St. Andrews, which stands at nine.
Meanwhile, Wigan will try to stop allowing so many goals. Roberto Martinez’s squad was on the wrong end of a 3-0 score last week against Spurs, marking the seventh time this season they’ve allowed three or more goals.
Bolton Wanderers vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers - These teams will, well, wander into the Reebok for a relegation six-pointer this weekend.
Much was made of Owen Coyle’s decision to leave Burnley to manage Bolton, but with one win since taking over for Gary Megson, it hasn’t really worked out just yet. Oddly enough, if the season ended today, both of his clubs would be relegated.
Burnley vs. Portsmouth - Pompey’s sad state of financial affairs took a darker turn recently as it was announced the club is likely headed for administration, and the nine-point deduction and certain drop into the Championship that would come with it.
The bright side, I suppose, is that the club will still exist.
Again, where’s a bored billionaire when you need one?
Stoke City vs. Arsenal - Stoke City’s, the Premier League’s equivalent of getting a root canal for opposing teams, will try to strap the Gunners down for an examination Saturday.
That pun got away, didn’t it?
Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre may have said it best, telling Sky Sports, “You get there and you know you’re going to get kicked. They love it, but we can play the ball, that’s how we’re going to respond because that’s the way we are.
“We can trouble any team so we’re going to be ready to face Stoke and get the three points.”
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton - After a Thursday trip to Portugal, the Toffees make a shorter journey to North London to face Spurs on Sunday.
These two teams played a 2-2 thriller at Goodison Park back in December with Tim Howard stopping Spurs’ striker Jermain Defoe’s penalty in injury time to preserve the draw.
Tottenham needs a win to stay in the top four while Everton will try to shake fatigue and injuries to keep up a run to a possible Europa League slot.
Liverpool vs. Blackburn Rovers - Liverpool, quietly hovering near a top four place, welcomes Blackburn to Anfield on Sunday.
Considering that Rovers have managed one win and just six points on its travels this season, getting a result here might be a tall order.
Sunderland vs. Fulham - Call it a battle of the stoppable force and the move-able object when the Cottagers invade Sunderland to face the Black Cats.
Sunderland is winless in its last 13 league matches while Fulham hasn’t tasted victory in its last dozen away matches.
That 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk in Europa League play Thursday was a nice result, however.