The Bingo-Playing Sitcom-Writing Premier Previews

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If there’s one thing in the Premier League you can expect, it’s the unexpected (this should be a betting option at Ladbrokes).

For a start, fast-moving transfer talk is making it virtually impossible to keep up to date.

By the time the weekend’s fixtures come around, Ryan Babel will probably be playing for a Colonists of Mars XI.

Also, just as you think Liverpool have, in the words of Steven George Gerrard, “turned a corner,” they put in a lacklustre performance and draw against Wolves.

Just as you think West Ham have been given a spring in their step, they take only a draw from a vital relegation six-pointer against bottom-of-the-table, bottom-of-the-cash-heap, bottom-of-the-bottom Portsmouth.

And just as you think things can't get any worse for Pompey themselves, the lifting of their transfer ban has been greeted by more goings than comings.

Rumours of Younes Kaboul to Tottenham and David James to Oh Please God Anyone Anywhere But Here have been topped by the sale of defender Mike Williamson to Newcastle.

Only Pompey could engineer a sale that costs them money, but because their £2 million Williamson deal with Watford last September involved a sell-on fee, some of that money they so desperately need will have to be given to the 'Orns.

Still, at least Pompey avoided paying the £1 million bonus to Watford based on Williamson's appearances by, uh, not giving him any.

He didn’t feature in the first team once because they couldn't afford to play him.

It’s extraordinary. The Portsmouth FC website wasn’t suspended briefly due to lack of payments to the service provider; it was hanging its head in shame.


Birmingham vs Spurs

Gala Bingo continues as Spurs’ Giovani dos Santos becomes Galatasaray’s third EPL signing in a month. Can’t they collect stamps?

It’s unconfirmed whether Dos Santos, Jo and Lucas Neill are filming a sitcom out there (“Jo’s left his bloody washing up again! Why I oughta...”) but Portsmouth should get in on the Turkish league leaders’ addiction to the English Prem before the money dries up.

The bigger news, of course, is ’Arry’s capture of Eidur Gudjohnsen despite the noises coming from Upton Park.

This is fast becoming a frantic transfer window. This blogger’s keeping his phone on loud.

But Eidur way it does raise another question:

Does this mean the first client at our new agency for unwanted footballers, Roman Pavlyuchenko, is definitely leaving Spurs now?

Ooh, wonder where. Yes, where in the world could he possibly go... wait, the phone's ringing. Hello? Galatasaray?

What won't happen: West Ham to swallow their pride and swoop for Pavlova, even though it would be very, very funny.

What will happen: Away win – wait a minute, hold the phone! Birmingham want the Pav! And they’ve bid for Aruna Dindane ahead of competition from Stoke and Blackburn!! NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE!!!

Burnley vs Chelsea

Chelsea are back at the top and with a game in hand – but they won’t want to drop points against a Burnley side that’s just slipped into the relegation zone, will they? No, they will not.

The Clarets have turned the clock back to sign goalkeeping granddad Nicky Weaver, somehow only 30 years of age, until the end of the season.

Presumably Ian Walker and Big Nev Southall were unavailable.

They’re also hunting a Fox in the Box – albeit their own box, because target signing Danny Fox of Celtic is a left-back.

Cue ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ headlines if he does ANYTHING.

What won't happen: Nicky Weaver waltzes into the first team, plays like a man possessed and finds himself on a plane to South Africa.

What will happen: However, it’s not for the World Cup: Weaver begins a challenging new stage of his career called ‘Will Save Penalties For Food’. Burnley 0-2 Chelsea.

Fulham vs Aston Villa

The last time Villa scored in the Premier League, in a 1-0 win over Stoke, some of us hadn’t begun our Christmas shopping.

Since then, they’ve played four games without scoring, something that makes other managers wake up screaming.

Not Martin O’Neill though. He's cooler than Hong Kong Phooey wearing sunglasses.

Fulham don't have it any better, of course. They put some nice passing together against Spurs in their 2-0 defeat midweek, but still looked about as threatening as a sunflower.

That’s not very threatening. Unless you have hayfever.

What won't happen: Thriller! Thriller night...

What will happen: Both teams struggle to find some attacking momentum – especially Fulham, with a Clint Dempsey-shaped hole in their XI. Uninspiring draw, then.

Hull vs Wolves

Another day, another six-pointer – it’s unbelievably close at the  bottom (two points separate five teams).

Wolves should have the momentum after an encouraging draw with Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Hull have joined the loaning craze by snapping up Amr Zaki, insisting they know his “chequered background” with Wigan last year (that is, he went AWOL no less than four times).

Steve Bruce called him “the most unprofessional player [he had] ever worked with.”

He won’t mess with Phil Brown though – not if he wants to avoid spending half-time sitting in the naughty corner. Of the penalty area.

What won’t happen: The relegation battle wrapped up by March – like an award for most hyped show in the history of TV, this is going to The Wire.

What will happen: A draw leaves both sides unsatisfied.

Liverpool vs Bolton

Oh, Liverpool. When you will get some consistency? You’re flakier than a Flake, only you drop points instead of crumbs.

Owen ‘Judas’ Coyle betrayed his former Burnley faithful not with a kiss but a 1-0 victory with his new Bolton outfit.

A win here could take them even further clear of the relegation zone.

What? They could do it. This is Liverpool we’re talking about!

What won’t happen: Benayoun to leave for Dinamo Moscow, despite what the gossips gossip.

What will happen: Another shocker for Liverpool keeps everyone’s lips moving.

West Ham vs Blackburn

David Sullivan's reaction to Spurs’ last-minute poaching of Eidur Gudjohnsen – after he’d been at Upton Park for a medical – was more than a little eerie.

In his words: “I can’t say I am happy about it but I believe in karma and what goes around, comes around.”

Cue Harry Redknapp falling mysteriously down a flight of stairs.

What won’t happen: ’Arry may or may not be a superstitious man, but it would be amusing to see him in the dugout nervously grabbing a rabbit’s foot, a four-leafed clover and the ear of Carlo ‘I am a lucky man’ Ancelotti.

Maybe this could become a full-blown war, complete with black cats, badly-placed ladders and the West Ham shop selling voodoo dolls of the Spurs boss.

What will happen: Benni McCarthy, switching between the clubs, plays for neither. The Hammers get up and running with a win.

Wigan vs Everton

Lately, Everton have been taking points without anybody really noticing – the footballing equivalent of a quiet office worker embezzling from the big boys.

Now up to Cloud Ninth, they’re unbeaten since November’s dire Merseyside derby, and in those eight games they’ve played Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs.

Add to this run of form the long-awaited return of Mikel Arteta and it’s a sweet time to be a Toffee.

What won’t happen: Replacement Wigan keeper Vladimir Stojkovic, who had a shocker on debut against Blackburn, to be picked ahead of Chris Kirkland when the Englishman returns.

What will happen: Everton nab another three points. It’s Moyezilla! Get the anti-aircraft guns, he’s unstoppable!


Arsenal vs Manchester United

Well, what a Manchester derby, eh? More thrills and spills than a night on the pi – the Bovril.

Something says this follow-up fixture won’t quite match up...

Oh, wait. It’s Manchester United vs Arsenal. Blimey, it never stops, does it?

There are opposing fortunes in the defensive ranks of the opposing armies.

United’s Rio de Ferdinaro is banned for four matches after launching a “frivolous” appeal against his three-match ban.

Technically this counts as a gun-inflicted injury to the foot.

The Gunners, however, have good news in that Thomas Vermaelen’s injury isn’t as bad as first suspected.

He probably still won’t feature in this match, but it’s still good news for Arsenal fans and anyone who appreciates a good ‘that’s-not-news’ headline on the BBC website (‘Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has not broken leg’).

Neither has Arsene Wenger – what’s your point?

What won’t happen: Rooney to miss another sitter like the one on Wednesday (that was an incredible effort), and 3D football to catch on.

This is the first match to feature on Sky>’s 3D channel, shown in nine pubs around the UK. Surely, SURELY this is a bad idea.

“Evra clears, it’s gone high in the air, SH*T IT’S COMING STRAIGHT FOR ME” – and the pints go flying.

What will happen: Smash ‘n’ grab away win.

Manchester City vs Portsmouth

Enough, then, about Portsmouth’s financial situation, although rumours are circulating that sufferers of the Haiti earthquake are sending aid to Fratton Park.

The good news is a valuable point, though they’d have preferred three, against West Ham in the week and that they’ll come up against a jaded Manchester City side recovering emotionally from their Carling Cup defeat at Old Trafford.

Still, Robinho’s gone at last – that could cheer any City players bored of his want-away press antics.

Six months in the Brazilian league, eh, Robbo? That’s right, challenge yourself.

What won’t happen: A City win, because that’s the prediction. Here comes the Pompey fightback.

What will happen: Portsmouth FC to continue imploding until they have to sell off all their players, the ground, the furniture, the chairman’s children and finally the land, as the city is towed adrift from England in a loan deal with France.


Sunderland vs Stoke

Unlike many felines in freefall, the Black Cats don’t look capable of landing on their feet.

They’re scoring goals – eight in their last five league matches – but it’s letting in twice as many that’s the problem.

You wouldn’t want to be a transfer target of theirs either, after Salvador Cabanas was sadly in somebody else’s sights as well as Steve Bruce’s.

The good news is he’s slowly recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.

What won’t happen: This won’t be a pretty game...

What will happen: ...but Stoke triumph to continue Bruce’s misery.

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