The Picasso-esque, face-dancing, blooming idiotic Premier Preview

Who cares about the Champions League anyway? We have the battle for next season’s Champions League to care about! And, uh, the Europa League - but we don’t talk about that any more in dear old Blighty - it's beneath us, isn't it...?


Anyway, onwards!


Spurs v West Ham (12.45pm, Sky Sports 2 & HD2, 5 Live Radio)

West Ham’s mini-Renaissance comes up against a stern test in their former manager’s Picasso-esque flair.

Incredibly for a team still in the relegation zone, the Hammers have scored three goals in each of their last three league games, including a sterling comeback away at West Brom and a fantastic win over Liverpool.

They won’t mind Spurs’ continuing injury woes in central defence, with Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley Kind obviously out and Younes Kaboul appearing to have disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Bale is likely to return for his first start in two months, but Robbie Keane is ineligible to face his parent club, not that he would anyway. It can’t be fun to see yourself behind Frederic Piquionne in the pecking, or indeed picking order.

At least some awkwardness in the centre circle before kick-off should be avoided. “All right, Robbie?” “Yes, thank you, Jermain. Enjoying your first-team place, are you, while I’m shipped out here?”

Actually, Defoe would probably feel his pain and move to Upton Park as well. Best keep them separated if you’re a Spurs fan.

What won’t happen: 0-0 draw

What will happen: Plenty of goals from both sides, finishing in a home win

"Sell it? I'm not a fackin' wheeler dealer!"

Aston Villa v Wolves (3pm)

The weekly pseudo-Midlands derby rolls round again, and it’s a game Wolves, unbeaten in three, will fancy taking a sneaky point from if Villa allow relegation nerves to get to them.

The Villans are just two points clear of the relegation zone despite being in 13th, due to the infathomably close bottom half.

And they won’t be helped in the team morale stakes by Richard Dunne and James Collins taking it in turns to shoot work experience students... no, wait, sorry, that wasn’t them. But they have been disciplined following “an incident” during a team bonding exercise at a health spa. The mind boggles.

It’s quite a good thing it boggles, too, as this blogger doesn’t want his mind turning to even contemplate James Collins in a Jacuzzi. *shudder*

What won’t happen: Neither Ashley Young nor Darren Bent to score – you’d put your house on it (if you had it up as collateral against a dodgy gang of gamblers, anyway)

What will happen: Wolves turn up and are unlucky to gain a draw

Blackburn v Blackpool (3pm)

Penny for your thoughts, Mr Kean?

Upon being appointed Big Sam’s successor, the Glaswegian was soon handed a hefty contract to stay at the club despite, and this is meant in the best possible way - like a husband telling his wife that maybe that dress doesn’t cover up the hunchback as much as she’d like, not really deserving it.

Now he’s under considerable pressure again, and with a defeat to chirpy travellers Blackpool, his position could be untenable before long.

Blackpool, meanwhile, are right in the cake mix after a memorable start to the season and, incredibly, could be in the relegation zone after the weekend, depending on results. Time to get that Ollie-led sing-song on the bus going – there must be some reason why they can win more away games than Manchester United.

What won’t happen: Ollie karaoke to kick off – a shame, given his hit rendition of Brand New Combine Harvester. Sorry, did I say ‘hit’? Typo, I do apologise

What will happen: Tough one to call. Blackburn have scored fewer goals at home than any team bar Wigan and Birmingham, but they should take a positive draw here

Manchester United v Bolton (3pm)

Rather than bore you with another rant about how this Lancashire hotpot should be on television and radio instead of inevitable snoozefest Everton v Fulham, we’ll take a look at United’s injury list, shall we? Deep breath...

Evans (ankle), Park (hamstring), Rafael (hamstring), O’Shea (hamstring), Vidic (calf), Anderson (knee), Hargreaves (knee), Lindegaard (knee), Fletcher (haggis poisoning), Ferdinand (Twitterer’s thumb) and Owen (destiny).

United win the crock battle, then, as Bolton will be missing a mere seven players through injury (Knight, O’Brien, Ricketts, Gardner, Samuel, Mark Davies and Sean Davis). But hey, Gretar Steinsson has been on the Vicks and should recover from a virus in time! These Icelanders are HARD.

Alex Ferguson will be sat alongside his crippled charges in the stands, as he begins his five-match touchline ban. Originally the bad was scheduled to begin after this match, but United's confirmation they would not appeal meant it could, and indeed would, start immediately - meaning the Scot will be back in time for the big league game against Arsenal.

Why on Earth was that allowed? Since when was a guilty man allowed to choose the timing of his sentence? Murderers on Death Row would love that: “Yes, I’ll take the injection, please, but in about 80 years if that’s all right with you.”

FA weakness, the strength of the Fergie mafia or both? Or a conspiracy theory spun out of a fairly innocuous shift in timetable? The decision is...well, Fergie’s.

What won’t happen: United to miss their manager much: he can actually do a lot from his position, including tactical changes

What will happen: This blogger’s head to be found in Rafa Benitez’s bed. And a home win

Stoke v Newcastle (3pm)

With 10 points from 12 taken at home since the New Year’s bunting was taken down, the Potters will fancy themselves to pot the Magpies, if indeed you can pot a Magpie (a pot pie, maybe - ed).

To be sure, it’s the battle for 11th place that will keep the fans streaming through the turnstiles.

Joey Barton is having a late fitness test, which apparently involves him headbutting a wall to see if he bleeds.

What won’t happen: Finishes to free-flowing football from a striker-depleted Newcastle side

What will happen: Stoke miss the back-knackered John Carew and stutter to a draw

West Brom v Arsenal (3pm, Absolute Radio)

At the start of the season this would have been an open, end-to-end, attacking game with both sides passing, moving and generally running around a bit.

But that wasn’t working for West Brom, and so it’s down to Roy Hodgson to get a valued point from a tough fixture against Arsenal. Well, it’s not like he’ll be going for the win, is it?

The Baggies will definitely miss the creativity of Dorrans, the thumping might of Mulumbu and the goals of Vela, who is ineligible to play against Arsenal. League-tied, if you will.

What won’t happen: West Brom to win, draw or score a goal

What will happen: An early goal for the visitors: they excel in putting the opposition under early pressure and Wubbah (as this blogger is now calling WBA) have conceded more goals in the opening quarter of an hour than any other Prem team this season

Wigan v Birmingham (3pm)

It’s time for Wigan to win games if they’re to stay in the Best League in the Universe™. Another bad couple of weeks and they could be the first team to slip away, as one always does – they’re already four points adrift of safety-placed Birmingham, who have a game in hand.

It may be a case of attack vs defence as they seek to use their home advantage against a cautious Birmingham. It may also be a bit demoralising, though, to come back from a mid-season break in La Manga to a crowd of three at the DW Stadium.

The Blues are still likely to be without GiantSerbNikolaZigic and TitchyLoutLeeBowyer, but the highly underrated Stephen Carr is back – as are Martins, Gardner, Ferguson and Roger Johnson. There are few injury worries for either team, really

What won’t happen: OK, three people to turn up. Maybe half a dozen

What will happen: Wigan begin to save themselves/delay the inevitable with a win against their relegation rivals   

Everton v Fulham (5.30pm, ESPN & ESPN HD, TalkSPORT Radio)

When we said snoozefest earlier, we meant it. Sure, it’s a fascinating battle for mid-table between two teams pushing for little more than a top-half finish, but Fulham have drawn no fewer than eight of their 14 away games this season – and they weren’t 4-4 goalfests...

What won’t happen: Mohamed Al Fayed’s statue of Michael Jackson to be built in time for the match, become possessed by demons and stagger around Craven Cottage looking for the family area

What will happen: Certainly not a 'Thriller' (lol). Bore sore snore draw.

"Yes, I'd like to buy Brede Hangeland's skeleton, please..."


Sunderland v Liverpool (1.30pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, TalkSPORT Radio)

You can expect Sky Sports to show more than one clip of a certain beach ball incident, but the interest here lies in Asamoah Gyan meeting Luis Suarez after that unhappy World Cup incident. Expect that one to be feisty. Maybe Gyan will dance in the Uruguayan’s face if he scores.

Liverpool face the very real prospect of no European football next year, which can, of course, be blamed entirely on Roy Hodsgon (that’s what he’s there for). All the more incentive to win here, then, and keep up their late charge for fifth. Afraid fourth is about as likely as Kenny Dalglish taking elocution lessons.

For Sunderland, Lee Cattermole is expected to return in time to be sent off after five minutes.

What won’t happen: Gyan to punch the ball off the line

What will happen: Gyan to punch Suarez off the line. Home win

Chelsea v Manchester City (4pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5 Live Radio)

What is surely a battle for third will be very confusing for fourth-place-hunting Spurs fans, who won’t know whether to pray for a draw or support one side in the hope one team will steamroller away into the third with the other flattened in fifth.

Speaking of steamrollers, Alex may return at long last to the Chelsea defence, adding the steel to allow Ivanovic to replace the flighty Bosingwa at right-back. Not sure his knee is up to taking another thundering free-kick though – his leg might fall off altogether.

Adam Johnson is available for Citeh having recovered from an ankle niggle, while Mario Balotelli is likely to be left out for being, let’s face it, a blooming idiot.

What won’t happen: Balotelli, with a ridiculous eight yellow cards and two reds in 15 City starts, to add to that tally at Stamford Bridge

What will happen: Chelsea’s good form continues over a shaky City and – shock horror – Torres even scores