The inexperienced but improving Prem Preview

Goalfests, England back on track, John Toshack leaving Wales, Scotland grabbing a dramatic last-gasp winner, France being humbled, Portugal being embarrassed not once but twice and Argentina thrashing the World Champions.

International week, eh? Thank God it's over.

SATURDAY

Everton v Manchester United (12.45pm, Sky Sports 2 & HD2, 5Live Radio)

Rooney, playing against former club, finally scoring for England, whores whores whores etc. etc. etc. It's not that the British press has an obsession with the St George-bearing potato-gremlin hybrid, but he did feature on pages 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of The Sun the other day, and that's (literally) before the back pages.



Well, this blog isn't going to stoop to such sordid affairs as talking about Wayne Rooney's sordid affairs. Three in a bed, indeed. You'd think being a father would have put him off that. Still, hookers eh? Phwooaar!
 
In Toffees and thankfully football news, James Vaughan is off to Crystal Palace on a three-month loan – one that makes this blog wonder, much as it did with perpetual loanee Michael Mancienne a couple of weeks back, whether the player's career is really progressing quite as it should.

Vaughan has quality, but the 22-year-old isn't getting any younger, and the fact he is still stalling just shy of the Everton first team, and is being sent out on his third loan spell in two seasons, suggests he may have hit a ceiling – or, in a more positive way, reached a zenith.

What won't happen: Vaughan to really hit the big time, unfortunately
 


What will happen: He moves abroad, ala Derbyshire, then comes back and settles back into his old, quiet, 'not featuring much' routine, ala Derbyshire. Away win

Arsenal v Bolton (3pm, Absolute Radio)

It's no great surprise to see Robin Van Persie is injured again but awwwww, poor Theo, eh? It's a shame to see Walcott out injured for up to six weeks, especially as he was finally starting to live up to his potential, but the way the press and, unsurprisingly, Arsene Wenger have gone about it, you'd think he was forced at gunpoint to bash breezeblocks into his ankles until they snapped like a cheap rubber band.
 


The fact is that injuries happen, and usually at the worst possible time. Stop with the conspiracy theories. Actually, don't – I love a good conspiracy theory. You know Michael Jackson is alive and living in Knaresborough?
 


Bolton's problem is more of a disciplinary one, with Adam Bogdan ready to replace a certain suspended veteran of Icelandic origins ("Naughty, naughty Jaaskelainen" (sung to the tune of "Glory Glory Man United")).
 
They'll also recognise the danger offered by Jack Wilshere if and when he features, not least because they've created a monster. In Owen Coyle's words, "He came to us as a boy and went back to Arsenal as a man." What did they do to the poor boy?


What won't happen: An uncomfortable spat between Coyle and Wenger over who helped Wilshere more while they were each grooming him – sorry, working with him 


What will happen: Home win, but the Trotters put up a fight

Fulham v Wolves (3pm)

With three games and three draws, it's been a steady but unspectacular start for the Cottagers, who would have wanted a win against either Bolton or Blackpool or ideally both. Meanwhile, Wolves have done well to take five points. Either way, both teams are unbeaten, and neither would expect that to change after this game.
 
Both teams have selection headaches. Fulham will have to choose between a struggling, inexperienced but improving David Stockdale and a struggling, experienced but thoroughly p*ssed off Mark Schwarzer in goal.

Wolves, meanwhile, have the happy conundrum of working out how to incorporate a newly fit Steven Fletcher upfront with fellow record signing Kevin Doyle when Sylvain Ebanks-Blake has made a good start to the season. Jelle van Damme is fit, too, although for our collective sanity we can only pray he doesn't do anything headline-worthy – the tabloids would have a field day.



What won't happen: Wolves to rack up another seven cards as they did against Newcastle, largely because Joey Barton isn't on the opposing team.
 


What will happen: Both teams enter this game on the back of two draws, and will probably leave it with three

Manchester City v Blackburn (3pm)

Roque Santa Cruz to play against his former club? Normally a ridiculous suggestion, it's more of a possibility now Mario Balotelli's knee is going under the knife, putting him out of action both on the pitch and in his sports cars. He's a bad influence, that boy: Shay Given has since been caught for speeding, possibly in a desperate bid for attention.
 


Speaking of attention, Carlos Tevez will be hoping that any directed towards him is more positive than the hounding he received after an appalling miss against Sunderland. It was, as Mitchell and Webb's snooker commentators might say, a bad miss, but he capitalised on a Pepe Reina mistake well to score for Argentina in midweek. Reina slipping up? Surely not.
 


In Blackburn, meanwhile, Big Sam poured cold water on the rumoured takeover by Indian businessman Ahsan Ali Syed, calling it "doubtful" and adding, "I don't know – I'm not privy to that information", before giggling at the word 'privy'.
 


What won't happen: Tevez to miss another sitter.
 


What will happen: Tevez to have a hand in at least one goal as City hit their stride again.

Newcastle v Blackpool (3pm)

Two newly-promoted sides go head-to-head for the first time this season, and even though one was expected to succeed and the other was tipped for disaster, they're on level terms at the moment: three games, four points, one thrashing given, one thrashing received. It's been that kind of start to the season: huge wins ultimately cancelling each other out, unless you're Chelsea.



Sulzeer Jeremiah Campbell is aiming to make an appearance for his fourth Premier League outfit in this game, but of bigger consequence is a potential debut for Hatem Ben Arfa, the almost entirely ignored loan signing from Marseille. Despite a name suggestive of an EastEnders character, Ben Arfa is a highly talented winger – which is presumably why Newcastle went to such lengths, and such expense (£2m just as a loan fee), to buy his services for a year. 
 


A less dramatic signing is recent World Cup quarter-finalist Richard Kingson for Blackpool, which could prove to be a real steal. Wigan have decided they don't need the Ghanaian keeper any more after Ali Al-Habsi proved himself just as good as Chris Kirkland, with the added bonus of having a working spine.
 


What won't happen: Kingson to replace Matthew Gilks in goal, even though you could argue Gilks isn't of Premier League standard (though some would say Kingson isn't either)
 


What will happen: On current form, either side could thump or be thumped in this fixture. The Toon squeak a goalfest

West Brom v Spurs (3pm)

Paul Scharner may make his Baggies debut, and may make it in his preferred position of midfield. It's no fun in defence, says The Man Who Scored The Consolation Goal With A Blatant Handball In The Nine-One Defeat To Spurs (or TMWSTCGWABHITNODTS for short). Some would say beggars can't be choosers.
 


Speaking of which, a depleted Tottenham team minus Michael Dawson for eight weeks and Jermain Defoe for THREE MONTHS – a massive blow – would beg for an easy three points, but are in no position to choose how it comes. They'll take the ball bouncing in off Scharner's arse if that's what it takes – anything to avoid another disappointment after the shock defeat to his former club Wigan.



What won't happen: Robbie Keane's hobbling of Defoe to pay off, as he starts on the bench behind a pair of big blonde strikers
 


What will happen: It goes from bad to worse for Spurs – more dropped points

West Ham v Chelsea (3pm)

Top plays bottom in this inevitable away win. It's a close league this year, with just nine points separating the two after three matches. That's very surmountable. West Ham will be top by Christmas.
 


A serious note: it has been very sad to hear ex-Chelsea man Brian Laudrup has been diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately it's a relatively mild form of lymphoma, but I'm sure everyone wishes him a complete and speedy recovery in what he calls "a battle I will win" – an admirable attitude.
 


What won't happen: Jaws to drop any time soon after Kieron Dyer was awarded West Ham's Player of the Month. Don't you have to play to do that?
 


What will happen: Potentially, West Ham to be on zero points until some time in October, with this nightmare and then tricky fixtures against Spurs and Fulham coming up. Next week they play Stoke, the only other team without a point, a game they'll both conspire to lose somehow

Wigan v Sunderland (3pm)

This blog swears this fixture happens every week, but maybe that's just because it makes a big deal out of Steve Bruce's history with Wigan every time it happens.
 
Best not to think about it.
 


What won't happen: Any more pressure to be conceivably placed on Asamoah Gyan than is already there after a £13m price tag – his Ghana team-mate Kingson cost Blackpool nothing
 


What will happen: Titus Bramble turns out for Sunderland against his old club, and promptly makes two heroic goal-line clearances (he made the most in the league last year, you know). Surprising score draw

SUNDAY

Birmingham v Liverpool (4pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5Live Radio, talkSPORT Radio)

Hearing that Fernando Torres or Steven Gerrard is injured is usually enough to send Liverpool fans reaching for the Valium.

Fortunately for Woy's Boys, both are available for this tough encounter – but Dirk Kuyt is not, and therein lies the rub. Easily the most underrated player at the club and arguably in the league, the Dutchman will be gurning like a gargoyle from the sidelines for the next month, suffering from a shoulder injury. His absence could damage Liverpool, also without David Ngog, more than some appreciate.

On the other hand, Paul Konchesky looks set to make his debut for the Reds, and the Blues have a dilemma of whether to shove in all their new signings or stick with their tried and tested. Given they haven’t lost a home game in 17 league matches, you’d expect it to be the latter.

What won’t happen: A comfortable Brum victory – the last time they won by more than one goal was 47 fixtures ago

What will happen: Leaning towards a home win, but plumping for a score draw

MONDAY

Stoke v Aston Villa (8pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5Live Radio)

Pointless in more ways than one, Stoke really need a result from this game to get their season up and running. Whether you rate Gerard Houllier as a manager or not, it’ll certainly take him time to find his rhythm after three years out of the game, and Tony Pulis’ men need to pounce while they have the opportunity.

Unfortunately for them, they’re without Mamady Sidibe and may miss Thomas Sorensen in goal too, with the Dane recovering from an infection in his elbow (eww).

What won’t happen: Pulis to take the Wales job, as rumoured

What will happen: Houllier to get off to an unexpected flier, a new-found confidence bringing a solid away win.

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