September 8, 2006
EPL Preview Weekend 3
The third weekend of matches in the English Premier League is, quite frankly, filled with plenty of matches of little interest for the neutral fan. Of course the Merseyside derby and Manchester United hosting Spurs should keep matters somewhat interesting.
Everton (7 pts, 4th) v. Liverpool (4 pts, 7th) – Everton escaped from the international week with only one injury of note. James McFadden picked up a hamstring injury for Scotland against Lithuania and he is unlikely to play a part. Everton should feel the can get something out of this game.
Rafa Benitez can only choose two strikers at a time and the international week made his choice that much harder. Peter Crouch and Dirk Kuyt both scored in midweek and Craig Bellamy looked impressive against both the Czech Republic and Brazil for Wales. Daniel Agger and Fabio Aurelio will continue in the back four, while Mohamed Sissoko is expected to return from injury.
Arsenal (1 pt, 17th) v. Middlesbrough (3 pts, 16th) – Willam Gallas will make his debut at left back in all likelihood. Gallas has to know the irony in the fact that playing there was one of the reasons he said he wanted to leave Chelsea. Injuries to Gael Clichy and Johan Djourou continue to force Arsene Wenger to improvise in defense.
Jonathan Woodgate is expected to make his debut after his loan move from Real Madrid. Like Arsenal, Boro have their share of defensive injuries. Chris Riggott, Robert Huth and Ugo Ehiogu are joined on the treatment table by Julio Arca, Ray Parlour and the unfortunate Matthew Bates.
Bolton Wanderers (4 pts, 8th) v. Watford (1 pt, 18th) – Bolton are set to give a pair of players their debuts against the Hornets. Nicolas Anelka did not even have to sulk his way into a starting role due to the injuries of Kevin Davies and Stelios Giannakopoulos. Iranian Andranik Teimourian played well against Syria, and will likely play in the same side as Israeli Tal Ben Haim.
Watford are set to give new signing Tommy Smith a start after his move from Derby County in the hopes that he can chase down long ball after long ball. On loan goalkeeper Ben Foster also returns to the side, but Clarke Carlisle will miss due to a chest infection.
Chelsea (6 pts, 5th) v. Charlton Athletic (3 pts, 15th) – In-form left back Wayne Bridge will be thrown out of the Chelsea side so Ashley Cole can make his debut. Joe Cole continues to recover from the knee injury suffered in the MLS All-Star Game.
Souleymane Diawara and Omar Pouso are expected to make their debuts for the Addicks. Hermann Hreidarsson will miss due to a suspension for his cheek breaking elbow on Kevin Davies.
Newcastle United (3 pts, 13th) v. Fulham (4 pts, 10th) – Shola Ameobi’s struggle with a hip injury will likely mean Giuseppe Rossi will start his first match on loan from Manchester United. Comic defender Steven Taylor is out of this one after injuring his foot playing for England’s Under-21 side.
Fulham, meanwhile, welcome back horror tackle specialist Michael Brown from a knee injury. Wayne Routledge will probably start on the bench. Australian international Ahmad Elrich and New Zealand international Simon Elliott continue to sit out because of injuries.
Portsmouth (7 pts, 2nd) v. Wigan Athletic (3 pts, 11th) – Pompey are nearly at full strength as they look to continue their excellent start to the season. Pedro Mendes had recovered from the Elbow of Mass Destruction to start in midfield. Glen Johnson and Lomana LuaLua return from injuries while only Roudolphe Douala will likely be the only one of Harry Redknapp’s new signings to take part.
Wigan continue to get lucky in the fact that Chris Kirkland continues to be fit for them. Loan signing Svetoslav Todorov is ineligible under league rules, and coupled with injuries to Henri Camara and Lee McCulloch will mean a debut for David Cotterill, a £2 million signing from the Bristol City Fight Club. Kevin Kilbane will also not make his debut after his red card in his last game for Everton.
Sheffield United (1 pt, 19th) v. Blackburn Rovers (1 pt, 20th) – The Blades plan on playing Phil Jagielka out of position in defense for this relegation six-pointer. An extensive injury list means it is difficult to give them a chance of taking all three points in this one.
Blackburn has one player out in Ryan Nelsen, but otherwise Mark Hughes can pick whomever he wants. Shabani Nonda is expected to start on the bench in his first match with Blackburn, while Tugay returns from suspension.
Manchester United (9 pts, 1st) v. Tottenham Hotspur (3 pts, 14th) – Michael Carrick will play against his former club as United’s paper thin squad hopes to continue their 100 percent start to the campaign. Alan Smith and Gabriel Heinze are not close enough to recovery to be considered for this match, while Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney will sit out for the last match of their suspensions.
Spurs will be handing a debut to Pascal Chimbonda, and welcome back captain Ledley King for his first match of the season in defense. Unfortunately for Spurs, Dimitar Berbatov picked up a groin strain playing for Bulgaria in midweek and is expected to take no part at Old Trafford.
West Ham United (4 pts, 6th) v. Aston Villa (7 pts, 3rd) – The Argentine duo of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano should make their debuts, with the latter expected to start. Also making his debut will be Robert Green after his move from Norwich.
Stilian Petrov will make his bow for the Villans after his move from Celtic. That means either Gavin McCann or Steven Davis will make way in midfield, I would put my money on McCann. Milan Baros has recovered enough from a foot injury to make an appearance on the bench.
Reading (3 pts, 12th) v. Manchester City (4 pts, 9th) – Ulises de la Cruz is likely to make his debut for the Royals in the Monday night matchup. That is not their only worry as Graeme Murty, Dave Kitson and Sam Sodje will miss this one. Ibrahima Sonko is back from suspension, however.
Dietmar Hamann will make his debut after his summer moves from Liverpool and Bolton. Hatem Trabelsi will start on the bench for City while Ben Thatcher is out for his Elbow of Mass Destruction. The City injury list reads like this: Darius Vassell, DaMarcus Beasley and Andreas Isaksson.
Everton 1-1 Liverpool
Arsenal 1-0 Middlesbrough
Bolton 2-0 Watford
Chelsea 3-0 Charlton
Newcastle 2-1 Fulham
Portsmouth 3-0 Wigan
Sheff Utd 0-2 Blackburn
Man Utd 1-0 Spurs
West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa
Reading 2-2 Man City
(Current record for season: 5 Correct Scores, 17 Correct Results, 16 Incorrect Results)