August 25, 2006
EPL Preview Weekend 2
It took only 5 days for 18 of the 20 Premiership sides to drop points leaving Manchester United top on six points and Newcastle in eighth after they beat Wigan last weekend in their only league match. This weekend is important because it is the last one before the transfer window closes until January.
Liverpool (1 pt, 13th) v. West Ham United (4 pts, 3rd) – The Reds open Anfield for the first time this season in the Premiership hoping to find the form they displayed in the Community Shield. Dirk Kuyt is expected to make his debut, but the injury list is already long for Liverpool. Jamie Carragher, John Arne Riise, Gabriel Paletta, Mohamed Sissoko and Stephen Warnock are all out for this match.
Premiership top scorer Bobby Zamora is looking to continue on a run of form that has been unseen since he left Brighton three years ago. The Hammers will be looking to avenge their FA Cup final defeat with almost a full squad. In addition to Dean Ashton, Matthew Etherington is also out for the match. Yossi Benayoun and Lee Bowyer are questionable.
Charlton Athletic (0 pts, 20th) v. Bolton Wanderers (4 pts, 4th) – Clown prince Djimi Traore returns from his comical ban for a red card in the season opener. Little surprise then that I give them very little chance of winning this one. Andy Reid may return from injury to take up two spots on the bench. Cristian Bolanos will miss this match as he waits on a work permit while Cory Gibbs and Jerome Thomas continue to sit with long-term injuries.
Bolton shattered their transfer record today on Nicolas Anelka, but he may not receive clearance to play tomorrow. Only Quinton Fortune is a doubt with an ankle injury for the Trotters.
Fulham (1 pt, 18th) v. Sheffield United (1 pt, 15th) – Fulham will likely play the same eleven that they did midweek in this relegation six-pointer. Simon Elliott, Mark Pembridge and Mark Crossley continue to be the injury list at the Cottage.
Neil Warnock returns to the touchline for this one, and one of the league’s most interesting managers has revealed nothing on his plans for this match. Last week’s man of the match Rob Hulse is expected to replace Ade Akinbiyi (Akinbadbuy) in attack.
Tottenham Hotspur (3 pts, 11th) v. Everton (4 pts, 6th) – Jermaine Jenas and Dimitar Berbatov, the key players in their midweek win, are doubts ahead of this match. Ledley King has still not featured for Spurs this season.
Everton are relatively healthy which means Tim Cahill will probably pop up and score late in this one to get a point for the Toffees. Andy Johnson has also played well in his first two matches for Everton and was unlucky not to earn a penalty at Blackburn.
Watford (1 pt, 14th) v. Manchester United (6 pts, 1st) – On the basis of two matches, ancient defender Chris Powell believes he can play several more seasons. Manager Aidy Boothroyd has also spent the week touting Ashley Young’s and Jay DeMerit’s international prospects. Anything to take away from the inevitable pumping they are about to receive at the hands of the Red Devils.
United will probably feature the same eleven that destroyed Charlton in midweek action. Michael Carrick is once again expected to start on the bench because of fitness concerns, while Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney serve the second match of their suspensions.
Wigan Athletic (0 pts, 19th) v. Reading (3 pts, 10th) – Wigan look to score their first points of the season against newly-promoted Reading. The Latics were impressed by Luis Antonio Valencia’s commitment to the cause, and the Ecuador international is likely to feature. Andy Webster’s transfer from Hearts continues to be held up until a FIFA tribunal decides on the fee.
Reading hope to continue their good start by bringing in some new faces late in the game. Seol Ki-Hyeon is one of their two signings, and he has been magnificent in his first two starts. Ibrahim Sonko is suspended for the red card he picked up against Villa while Dave Kitson sits injured.
Manchester City (1 pt, 17th) v. Arsenal (1 pt, 12th) – Andreas Isaksson continues to wait for his debut after going under the knife for minor ankle surgery this week. Nicky Weaver will therefore continue in goal for City. Also missing out are Dietmar Hamann, Andy Cole and Hatem Trabelsi, who is having visa issues with his family. Bernardo Corradi returns from his suspension.
The Gunners had no diversity in attack against Villa, but there are hopes that things could change with the debut of Tomas Rosicky. However, unsettled pair Jose Antonio Reyes and Ashley Cole continue to sit with their future at the Emirates Stadium uncertain.
Aston Villa (4 pts, 5th) v. Newcastle United (3 pts, 8th) – Villa look to continue their good start under Martin O’Neill with a win against two-striker Newcastle. They will have to do it without Jlloyd Samuel, who was injured in the win against Reading, and possibly Mark Delaney who is recovering from a virus.
Obefemi Martins is expected to make his debut for the Magpies in this fixture to take some pressure off Shola Ameobi. Shay Given is expected to make a return from injury while Craig Moore will miss out.
Blackburn Rovers (1 pt, 16th) v. Chelsea (3 pts, 7th) – After an impressive match against Everton, Benni McCarthy will likely keep his place in the starting eleven along side out of form Jason Roberts. The league’s most foul happy team last season should be expected to be in the same form for this encounter. Andre Ooijer could make his debut after finishing his transfer from PSV.
Chelsea suffered defeat in just their second league match at the Riverside in midweek. With the return of Michael Ballack and Arjen Robben, expect the Blues to be out for blood. Joe Cole and Petr Cech continue to be out with long term injuries.
Liverpool 2-1 West Ham
Charlton 0-1 Bolton
Fulham 2-1 Sheff Utd
Spurs 1-1 Everton
Watford 0-3 Man Utd
Wigan 1-0 Reading
Man City 0-3 Arsenal
Villa 2-2 Newcastle
Blackburn 1-2 Chelsea