The firecracker-prodding, pregnancy-protecting Premier Preview

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

"'Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!'

The bell hadn't gone for assembly yet, and other lads from the playground came out to watch.

'Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!'

Gordon pushed Norbert off him, and they rolled under a seat. Then they rolled out into the aisle again, only this time Gordon was on top. He thumped Norbert right in the middle of the chest. Hard. It hurt him, and Norbert got his mad up. I really wanted him to do Gordon.

'Go on, Norbert, do him.'

Just then, somebody clouted me on the back of my head, right where my mum had hit me that morning. I turned round to belt whoever it was.

'Who do you think you're thumping...? Oh, morning, Mr Melrose.'"

It's OK, they find solace in football. And Bobby Charlton turns up, pretending to be the narrator's uncle. The Fib by George Layton, from Gary Lineker's Favourite Football Stories, available in all good charity shops for 39p.


Arsenal vs Wolves

Wolves are hitting their peak at exactly the right time. Unbeaten in four and top of the relegation pile, they're looking safe. Having said that, of course, it'll all go wrong from here, starting with a 3-0 defeat at the Emirates.

As for Arsenal – well, where do you begin? Wenger losing it ("Am I suggesting there were a lot of bad tackles? Leave me alone with that") after dropping points at Birmingham? The startling comeback against Barcelona? The appalling penalty decision, in which Fabregas kicked Puyol and not only won a penalty but watched the Spaniard be sent off?

How about Fabregas missing the rest of the season? The captain is out for six weeks, to add to a three-week absence for Arshavin and possibly even longer for Gallas. Van Persie won't return to training for another fortnight, and Clichy and Denilson are both doubts for this match.


What won't happen: Tears over the impending retirement of ex-Gunner Jens Lehmann. Good riddance to bad...people.

What will happen: Arsenal's mettle to be thoroughly tested over the next month

Bolton vs Aston Villa

Trouble at t'Villa: the club had to emphatically deny speculative rumours that Martin O'Neill was leaving after a disagreement over transfer funds.

The story broke a couple of days early for April Fool's but certainly fooled people, despite an absurd claim from some sources that Villa's owner goes by the name of Randy Lerner. Ridiculous. That's an American Pie film, isn't it?

And yet the least believable statement from Villa Park this month was John Carew saying: "We have learned from last year when we didn't really manage to maintain our level for the whole season."

Since then: 2-2 at home to Wolves, 1-1 at home to Sunderland and a 1-7 reverse against Chelsea. Hmm.

What won't happen: Bizarrely, three of Bolton's last four games have finished 4-0. It's hard to guess what's less likely: either team knocking in four or one of them keeping a clean sheet.

What will happen: Zat Knight – another made-up name – puts in a strong performance against his old club and Bolton take a point

Burnley vs Manchester City

It's about time City got working on their goal difference. Making up two points on Spurs won't be too hard over the coming weeks, but if the teams finish level there's only way that fourth place is going – Norf Lahndan.

Nine goals behind in the race, a 3-0 win over Wigan has helped City but a thrashing at Turf Moor would really do the trick. Maybe Mancini should put a firecracker up Tevez's arse a bit earlier in proceedings this time, just in case they don't get a fortuitous one-man advantage.

Talking of questionable decisions, thing are looking direr for Burnley than for the British taxpayer after an unlucky 1-0 defeat to Blackburn.

There were 40 arrests after the local derby and yet not one of them was referee Mike Dean, despite an abysmal penalty decision that ultimately decided the game. To call it crap would be an insult to coprophiliacs.

But what do you expect? This is Mike Dean. The chinless wonder has given 16 penalties in 24 Premier League matches this season – the next highest is seven (Alan Wiley in 23 matches; Mark Clattenburg in 25). There have been Clearasil ads with less pointing to the spot.

And as tactful as a stripper at a funeral, Blackburn's Martin Olsson openly admitted to diving because he knew Dean gives "lots of penalties." Gentlemen, this is football.

What won't happen: Dean to follow his true calling in life, setting fire to his hair and entering a Neil Kinnock lookalike contest.

What will happen: Away win compounds Burnley's misery.

Manchester United vs Chelsea

Well, this is just a massive game. First plays second, with a home win giving the Red Devils a four-point lead and an away win firing Chelsea to the top.

This clash could well decide the title race. And reffing it will be…Mike Dean. Oh God.

It's not just Dean's itchy finger that threatens to determine this game: he's also cost Ferguson a two-match touchline ban and £10,000 fine in the past and recently sent off two Chelsea players in their 4-2 defeat to Man City.

So, five-a-side it is, then. Last one out plays in skins.

What won't happen: Chelsea could be the first team to score 100 goals in a top-flight league season since Spurs 47 years ago. All the Blues need is 18 goals from their last six matches. That's just three a game, every game. No problem.

What will happen: Drogba plays and Rooney doesn't, but a dubious penalty helps United to claim a draw.

Portsmouth vs Blackburn

Two sickening blows for Pompey: Danny Webber and Hermann Hreidarsson are both out for six months, Webber with a torn anterior crucial ligament and Double H with a ruptured Achilles.

Also, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie has moved to Qatar, which has tongue-tied commentators sighing with relief across the land.

They're running out of players, the Pomp. Only six subs were fielded against Spurs, three of whom had never played in the Prem, and now they're another three down.

Still, the news is saddest for 35-year-old Hreidarsson – not only does he miss an FA Cup semi-final swansong, he'll miss the start of next season. He may be forced to retire.

We should all hope he doesn't: apart from the fact he probably has another couple of top-flight seasons left in him (a relegation-area club should really snap him up, a prospect this injury threatens), he's a lovely bloke.

What won't happen: Sadly, HH probably won't be seen in the Prem again.

What will happen: Draw

Stoke vs Hull

Tony Pulis has publicly backed Zola to stay at West Ham, which is the kind of thing you can do when you're not in a relegation battle. People probably have to keep reminding the Stoke boss to look at the right part of the league table.

Oh, and after a harsh red card for Dean Whitehead against Spurs, Pulis is another one unhappy with Mike Dean. Expect a petition sometime soon.

What won't happen: A grin as cheeky as Jimmy Bullard's. The midfielder, former painter-decorator and occasional shampoo promoter scored against old club Fulham, but even a Fulham fan couldn't hold it against him because, well, it's Jimmy Bullard, isn't it?

What will happen: A point takes Hull out of the drop zone.

Sunderland vs Spurs

Darren Bent will want to forget missing a penalty against his old club the last time they met, so let's hope he's not reading this, eh?

Spurs don't seem to be missing him just yet either, even with Defoe, Pavlyuchenko and Keane out injured/in Scotland. Crouch scored for the first time in approximately 17 years against former club Portsmouth, and Eidur Gudjohnsen is showing his worth too.

What won't happen: Bent misses another penalty.

What will happen: Spurs struggle but scrape a sixth straight league win.


Birmingham vs Liverpool

Slipping Marcel Almunia a fiver before the game worked for Birmingham last week, even though it took several attempts for him not to drop it.

And this is a tough game for Liverpool, especially with a continental hangover after losing to Benfica.

Benitez can't wait to get rid of Babel, you'd think. Just to ease the pressure, Fernando Torres has announced that Liverpool need to win their remaining six games to finish in the top four. Nando, have you seen your team-mates lately?

What won't happen: Nando does it on his own.

What will happen: Draw

Everton vs West Ham

These are dangerous times for West Ham, who have now lost six games not so much on the bounce as on a slowly deflating balloon.

With a high-profile take-over by outspoken men, a team ‘too good to go down' and rumours of a possible departure for Zola, the pressure is very much on them rather than relegation rivals Hull – which is exactly what the Hammers don't want.

And exactly what Everton didn't want was an injury to Dan Gosling.

Well, OK, exactly what they didn't want would be 11 complex injuries to their entire first team to be followed by an announcement that in order to save money, Everton FC are being incorporated into Liverpool FC with Goodison Park being renovated into a shrine to Bill Shankly.

But until that happens, their misery ducts will be nice and full with the news that Gosling will be out of action for nine months. Nine months? Is he pregnant or something? Maybe this ‘rupturing a cruciate knee ligament' is just a smokescreen and the youngster has one in the oven.

What won't happen: A remake of Arnie car crash flick Junior with Gosling in the spotlight.

What will happen: A home win means much nail-biting in East London.

Fulham vs Wigan

Note to Roy Hodgson: if you're going to offload a player to Manchester United, get shot of him straightaway.

A distracted Chris Smalling has had a shocker of a season since the transfer was announced, including giving away a penalty against Hull last week.

Over in Wigan, the FA are examining Roberto Martinez over his 'outburst' but he'll be fine – just flash them a smile and they'll drop their charges and their pants. Ah, Roberto.

What won't happen: Fulham to make the Europa League semis. Sorry, but conceding that late away goal is going to cost them.

What will happen: Home win.

More features from FourFourTwo's Inside Track

Club news * Features * News * Interviews * Home
Interact: Twitter * Facebook * Forums