Premier League Saturday, Gameweek 18: Open Thread
So many storylines to consider on this Premier League Saturday. First up is the match between Sunderland and Bolton, which promises to be more entertaining this season as both teams have improved tremendously in recent years. Plus, many viewers will be looking forward to seeing if Stu Holden can score another wonder goal like he did last week against Blackburn.
In the other matches of the day, expect a heated game between Arsenal and Stoke City. Both teams have a lot of baggage in terms of previous clashes. I’m expecting Arsenal to come out on fire in this one and to try to teach Stoke City a lesson. Tony Pulis will have other ideas.
Blackburn against West Ham United is a must-win for both teams, for different reasons. Caretaker manager Steve Kean will want to begin his career as temporary boss at Blackburn off to a good start, to have any chance of picking up the full-time position. But Avram Grant is on borrowed time so it’s more important than ever for West Ham to get three points at Ewood Park.
Elsewhere, Newcastle United travel to Birmingham. Alex McLeish will be under pressure if Birmingham fail to get a home victory. Alan Pardew will want to show the critics that the win against Liverpool wasn’t a flash in the pan. Wigan against Aston Villa will be a tough one to predict especially since Wigan is such a yo-yo team. Aston Villa, meanwhile, look like a club coming undone so it’ll be important for Gerard Houllier’s side to get three points to take the pressure off the team.
Last, but not least, is Liverpool against Fulham. Roy Hodgson against Mark Hughes. Both managers who are in a heap of trouble for different reasons. Fulham will feel that they have nothing to lose here since their away record is so bad, so don’t be surprised if Fulham puts the pressure on Liverpool in a match that may feature plenty of ups and downs for supporters of both clubs.
UPDATE: Three Premier League matches have been postponed today due to snow. Wigan against Aston Villa, Birmingham versus Newcastle and Liverpool versus Fulham. In each case, the pitch is fine due to undersoil heating but the authorities have postponed the games due to safety concerns (i.e. supporters getting injured and or slipping and falling on their way to the ground).
UPDATE 7:50am ET: Arsenal versus Stoke also postponed. Only games on today so far are Sunderland v Bolton and Blackburn v West Ham. The game at Ewood Park could get called off, so enjoy Sunderland versus Bolton while you can (great luck for ESPN2 today).
UPDATE 10:55am ET: It’s half-time at Ewood Park for Blackburn against West Ham. Tomorrow’s games between Chelsea v Man United and Blackpool and Spurs have also been postponed. Ugh.
UPDATE 2:42pm ET: West Brom against Wolves is postponed tomorrow, so the only Premier League match left on the cards (right now) is Monday’s Manchester City versus Everton.
Before, during and after the games today, feel free to share your rants, observations and questions in the comments box below.