The Comet-Burning, Back Page-Exploding Premier Previews

So, John Terry is no longer captain of his country, England will face Wales in the 2012 Euro qualifiers and Paul Gascoigne's been arrested in a Yorkshire takeaway for drink-driving (presumably not actually in the takeaway).

But you don't care about that – you want to know team news ahead of Fulham's clash with Burnley at Craven Cottage, don't you?

Then today's your lucky day!


Fulham vs Burnley

Stephen Jordan returns for Burnley while the Cottagers welcome back Bobby Zamora and Simon Davies, who continues his impression of Halley's Comet by briefly burning brightly before falling apart at the seams again.

That may or may not be accurate astronomy.

What won't happen: Simon Davies to last 90 minutes – even his missus says he can't, arf arf.

What will happen: Since your correspondent will be in attendance, a 0-0 draw with a bad kebab on the way home.

Manchester City vs Bolton

Bad news for Bolton as talisman, defender and top scorer in all competitions Gary Cahill has developed a blood clot in his arm. That’s a nasty one – he'll do well to feature again this season.

Disaster, then, for Bolton in their bid to avoid relegation.

And you'd be a brave man to bet on them taking anything from this game, even if Mancini's Man City did go down to Hell. Sorry, Hull. Typo.

What won't happen: Wayne Bridge to get some respite from the taunting fans.

What will happen: Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson to both start after impressing in the Tigers' den, and the experienced midfielder helps the young lad with an inspirational speech beginning: "Of course, I remember when it was all fields..." Home win.

Portsmouth vs Sunderland

Sunderland's last 11 away games: won 0, drawn 2, lost 9.

Portsmouth's last three matches: own goals 3, actual goals 0.

Is there any rugby on?

What won't happen: Avram Grant, Steve Bruce and the FA hastily agree a 'Whoever loses wins' to give their hapless heroes a chance, and both teams set about trying to smash the ball into their own net.

What will happen: Nothing nearly as entertaining, and outbreaks of suicide in the Fratton area following a 0-0 draw.

Wigan vs Stoke

Playing Blackburn at the weekend, Stoke surprised many a shrewd analyst and idiotic blogger by actually scoring some goals.

An expect 0-0 turned into a 3-0 stroll for Tony Pulis and his side in the Welshman's 300th match in charge.

The problem for the Potters is that they're not at the Britannia Stadium this time, and bless 'em, they get a bit homesick.

Either side of a ridiculous run of five consecutive home fixtures, Stoke have failed to score on the road in eight hours and 31 minutes of painful football.

Their last away goal was in a 2-1 loss to Hull just over three months ago.

Bet those silences on the coach home are getting a bit awkward.

What won't happen: Wigan fans fully respect Ricardo Fuller's privacy after his arrest on suspicion of assault, and remain totally silent towards him throughout the game.

What will happen: Stoke break their duck and Wigan break their legs (the Latics beat Sunderland 5-4 in the Battle of the Bookings on Saturday). Away win.


Arsenal vs Liverpool

After four less-than-inspiring clashes penned in for Tuesday, the top-of-the-table stuff begins.

And you have to wonder what Arsenal did to the Premier League fixture list schedulers at the start of the season.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool all in a row? What did they do, sit the schedulers down and force them to watch Bendt It Like Beckham: The Best Of Nicklas Bendtner?

Still, haven't Arsenal responded well to being pitted back-to-back against their closest rivals, folding completely to both of them?

This on the back of a frustrating draw with Aston Villa and an FA Cup defeat to Stoke. It's a crying shame is what it is. A bloody crying shame.

What won't happen: A truer word to be said than this statement from Michael Ballack: "Wenger always says things like this ["We didn't get a demonstration of football"] when he loses to find an excuse."

What will happen: Score draw and Wenger complains about the lack of flair in Dirk Kuyt's hair. "Did you see us play?" he asks. "We're so pretty. Oh so pretty. Doo doo-doo-doo."

Aston Villa vs Manchester United

Seriously, if David Beckham makes any more out of his return to Old Trafford, the back pages will literally explode.

The little-known husband of ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton has now pledged that if he scores for Milan against his old club (probably not a worry, to be honest) he won’t celebrate out of respect for the fans.

This is the kind of thing you usually see happening in the spur of the moment. Becks scores, Becks doesn’t celebrate, Becks is praised.

Once you start announcing your celebration, or lack thereof, before you’ve even scored you’re slightly setting yourself up for a fall.

What next? Robbie Keane holding a press conference at Celtic Park stating: “I’m thinking a double back flip followed by shooting into the crowd. Any questions?”

What won’t happen: Beckham to celebrate against United if he does score. He may be a publicity-seeking arse, but he’s also noble. He’ll probably get another tattoo though – there’s allegedly still a bit of flesh-coloured skin on his torso.

What will happen: Villa briefly threaten but are ultimately swept away by another Roon Army. Roon Army? Tsunami? Yes?


Blackburn vs Hull

No out-and-out relegation battles this week, but this match develops a similar sense of tragic futility with the news that John Steven Taylor, a travelling supporter in Blackburn's visit to Stoke, died in hospital after sustaining a head injury at the game.

Our thoughts are with his loved ones.

This blogger just hopes the minute's applause, if it takes place, is well respected.

That it has to be a minute's applause rather than a minute's silence in order to drown out the boos of impatient 'fans' is disgraceful, and almost as much of a tragedy as the reason for it taking place.

What won't happen: Sorry, serious stuff over. What won't happen? Oh, some joke about Big Sam going on a diet or something.

What will happen: Christopher Samba's absence after a second sending off in four games makes for a surprisingly entertaining game of football. Draw

Everton vs Chelsea

The Toffees’ impressive run of nine league games unbeaten came to an end as Liverpool did The Mersey Double (it’s a regional dance).

Chelsea, meanwhile, will take momentum from an efficient performance against Arsenal on Sunday.

Let’s just hope the television cameras won’t zoom in on John Terry after ANY GOAL, even if he was on the half-way line picking his arse at the time.

What won’t happen: Home win.

What will happen: Away win.

West Ham vs Birmingham

Talented 18-year-old Frank Nouble has joined West Brom on a month's loan, which makes sense when you consider new arrivals have made him West Ham's sixth-choice striker (he'd have been seventh if Nathan Hines wasn't out for the season).

Even Zola's gearing up for a run.

With that in mind, hats must surely go off to Me-Me-Mido.

Fat he may still be, but a troublemaker? Surely you have to have at least a smidgeon of respect for anyone who accepts a 98 percent pay cut to join a club where he's been expressly told there are at least four strikers ahead of him.

Compare this to Robinho (Ro-been-and-gone-yo? Taxi!).

Having decided the Premier League's so awfully tough, the Brazilian is hoping for a four-year contract at loan club Santos, who play at a standard so competitive he was able to backheel a goal on debut.

What won't happen: Robinho to say, "You know what? I should fight for my place," and return to Eastlands grovelling.

What will happen: Mido to prove a point by scoring as a substitute; Kevin Phillips does the same. Birmingham add more bookings to the nine in their last two matches.

Since this is turning into the world's most specific prediction, let's go with West Ham 1, Birmingham 2 (Mido 89; Bowyer 42, Phillips 90+1).

Shots on goal: West Ham 7, Birmingham 11. Shots on target: West Ham 3, Birmingham 5.

Possession: West Ham 49%, Birmingham 51%.

Colour of Robert Green's underwear: navy blue.

Now THAT should give you some good odds.

Wolves vs Spurs

If Spurs do miss out on a top four place this year, and this blogger believes they will, it could be missed opportunities against teams such as Wolves that come back to haunt them like a certain undercooked lasagne.

Since losing 1-0 to Mick McCarthy's outfit in December, Spurs have dropped more points in frustrating 0-0 draws with Hull (30 shots fired) and Aston Villa (33).

They might as well play Chief Clancy Wiggum up front.

What won't happen: John Motson to sit through a fifth consecutive goalless draw. Still, it's best if possible to avoid any game in which he's commentating, obvious reasons aside.

What will happen: Will they get revenge on Wolves? Sure, why not? But the home side, led by Kevin Doyle, put up one hell of a fight.

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