September 22, 2006
EPL Weekend Preview: September 23-25
What fantastic timing by the BBC that the two managers who would be most embroiled in the bung scandal would face off in the next round of Premiership fixtures.
Elsewhere it will be a return to normalcy for Arsenal as they go up against another team that will only look to defend. Former Spurs defender Erik Edman gets a mention for a belter. Reading will be looking to avoid destruction in their first big match of the campaign, and there’s a London derby between Fulham and Chelsea which ended in fan confrontation on the pitch last season.
Liverpool (7 pts, 9th) v. Tottenham Hotspur (4 pts, 16th) – Very few injury concerns for Liverpool as they will only be without John Arne Riise and Harry Kewell for certain. Jermaine Pennant may also miss out after picking up an injury before the Newcastle game. Unlike their opponents, the Reds actually have some momentum heading into this clash at Anfield.
Dimitar Berbatov, Steed Malbranque and Aaron Lennon are the major injuries for Spurs as they look to finally get their season started. Of course in this fixture two seasons ago, Erik Edman scored from way out.
Arsenal (5 pts, 11th) v. Sheffield United (2 pts, 20th) – A much better performance by the Gunners last week as they controlled a large amount of the play and took all three points at Old Trafford. Thierry Henry should be back in action for all of you who have him in your fantasy teams, while Philippe Senderos, Gael Clichy, Lauren and Abou Diaby will continue to miss out on first team action through injury.
This will be Neil Warnock’s 1000th game as a manager and it will be tough to get anything from this one with nine men out with injuries. Paddy Kenny and Michael Tonge are the most critical players out and the ten men behind the ball strategy they will deploy will almost certainly be weaker because of it.
Aston Villa (9 pts, 5th) v. Charlton Athletic (3 pts, 18th) – It has been over a month into the season, and Villa have yet to lose in the Premiership. Martin O’Neill has been spending some time touting Gareth Barry’s England career, and he might as well since the Villans should walk away with at least a point.
Hermann Hreidarsson returns from his suspension for elbowing Kevin Davies in the face, and Charlton still sit on the same amount of points they had after that win. The Addicks could really use a point to ease their relegation worries.
Fulham (8 pts, 8th) v. Chelsea (12 pts, 3rd) – Fulham head into their clash with bitter rivals Chelsea after being eliminated from the Carling Cup by League Two Wycombe. Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra and Papa Bouba Diop are all doubts for the team ambition forgot.
Michael Ballack begins his three-match suspension, but it is not as though they will miss him. Arjen Robben is expected to fill the German’s place in midfield. Joe Cole continues to miss out after re-injuring himself against Werder Bremen.
Manchester City (4 pts, 17th) v. West Ham United (5 pts, 12th) – The pressure is officially on Stuart Pearce to deliver some results. The loss to Chesterfield in the Carling Cup was just embarrassing for the former England international, and he is even considering starting Paul Dickov in hope that he inspires the squad.
The Hammers have struggled since they acquired their Argentine duo. James Collins and Tyrone Mears are out with injuries and Jonathan Spector will not start either because he is lacking match fitness.
Middlesbrough (5 pts, 14th) v. Blackburn Rovers (5 pts, 13th) – On loan stand in captain Jonathan Woodgate will make his home debut for his hometown club. After losing to Notts County, Gareth Southgate needs a full strength side to bolster the fans’ confidence, and as a result Robert Huth will miss out.
Jason Roberts, Steven Reid, Francis Jeffers and the guy who was given a passing mention in the BBC undercover bung investigation after being punched in the face by Wayne Rooney are all out with injuries. Not to worry though, this is usually the type of match that Boro finds a way to lose badly.
Wigan Athletic (4 pts, 15th) v. Watford (2 pts, 19th) – A half-full JJB will watch what may be the worst match for neutrals since Oldham was in the Premiership. Only Lee McCulloch will miss out on the action among the Latics first choice squad.
Watford will make many changes to the squad that beat Accrington Stanley in midweek because the backups got the job done that night. Clarke Carlisle and Chris Powell continue to sit with injuries for the Hornets.
Reading (9 pts, 6th) v. Manchester United (12 pts, 2nd) – The Premiership season begins now for the Royals as they finally face one of the big four. Kevin Doyle will be able to take a place in the starting eleven after recovering from a leg injury.
Gabriel Heinze will make his return to the Red Devils lineup in their visit to the Madejski. Also available are Alan Smith and Nemanja Vidic, with both likely to start on the bench. Edwin van der Sar will also retake his place between the posts after missing the Arsenal match with a stomach virus.
Newcastle United (6 pts, 10th) v. Everton (11 pts, 4th) – Newcastle’s shambolic defense may welcome back Titus Bramble and Steven Taylor with the former making victory even more bleak. Shola Ameobi is doubtful with a continuing hip problem caused by bad medical advice.
Everton have defensive problems of their own as Joseph Yobo and David Weir may both miss out. The Toffees will hope to continue their unbeaten start to the season against the Magpies.
Portsmouth (13 pts, 1st) v. Bolton Wanderers (8 pts, 7th) – Pompey will be looking to extend their run at the top of the table in this clash of managers deeply in turmoil. Portsmouth have yet to concede a goal in the Premiership this season, and things are looking even brighter as Niko Kranjcar and Manuel Fernandes may make their debuts.
Sam Allardyce has had a bad week to say the least. However, foul machine Kevin Davies is back from a broken cheekbone, while Tal Ben Haim and Kevin Nolan have recovered to make this clash.