The part-Uzbekistani Premier Preview

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Sat here, as I am, now NOT going to Reading Festival, I'm comforted by the fact that a festival of football awaits.

Serie A gets underway this weekend, Jose Mourinho begins his Real Madrid odyssey and there's some enjoyable football to be looked forward to in the good ol' Premier League.

As those of you who subscribe to our awfully decent newsletter will know, there's a chance this season could see a record-breaking number of goals in the opening three rounds of a Premier League season, as long as these 20 teams net 31 times between them.

And since two of this weekend’s fixtures resulted in a 7-0 and a 9-1 last season, it's not foolish to think it might just happen.


Blackburn v Arsenal (12.45pm, Sky Sports 2 & HD2, 5Live Radio)

A festival of goals is unlikely in this match, though, thanks to Big Sam's relatively good home record against Arsene Wenger (won 5, drawn 3, lost 3).

Arsenal won't be helped either by an injury to Samir Nasri, who will be out for a month thanks to a nasty scab on his knee. Laurent Koscielny returns after his ban, but there's no room yet for brilliantly-named fellow new defender Sebastien Squillaci.

Rovers are almost problem-free, depending on whether the gaffer takes a risk on David Dunn, nursing a groin injury.

But what about nasty, nasty Alan Hansen talking about lovely, lovely Theo Walcott in that way? It's becoming progressively clear that he knows he can get away with almost anything, hence his increasingly lazy 'punditry', so it was good to see Gary Lineker taking him to task on Match of the Day.

What won't happen: Blackburn, looking for their 1000th win in top-flight football, actually get it

What will happen: Wenger to keep winning Whine of the Week (this time for moaning the transfer window is too long) while he's allowed to open his gob. A draw frustrates the visitors

Blackpool v Fulham (3pm)

Even the most pessimistic Blackpool fan probably wasn't expecting Ian Holloway to be under fire so early in the season, but he definitely hasn't come out of the League Cup defeat to MK Dons well – seeing as he wasn't there.

Instead, Holloway chose to scout Sheffield Wednesday forward Marcus Tudgay, leaving his side to crash out of the League Cup (not that he was bothered, as he admitted himself).

After riding high on the rollercoaster against Wigan and plummeting down to its depths against Arsenal, before sinking below sea level with the resignation of chairman Karl Oyston and resulting doubt over Holloway's future, the Tangerines need a positive result here.

They won't get one.

What won't happen: Holloway is absent once more, and is later found, notebook in hand, watching a group of 12-year-olds having a kickabout in the park

What will happen: Fulham carry momentum into the game from their 6-0 thrashing of Port Vale and nab their first league win of the season

Chelsea v Stoke (3pm, Absolute Radio)

Last year's internal troubles at Stoke don't seem to have disappeared, with a battle between Tony Pulis and keeper Asmir Begovic (bought only in February) over whether the Bosnian – that's Begovic, not Pulis – refused to play in the Carling Cup against Shrewsbury.

The glovesman is a tad unsettled by dreams of a potential move to a bigger club. And who is that alleged bigger club? Chelsea.

Oo-er, missus.

What won't happen: Stoke are surprised to see Begovic warming up in a Chelsea tracksuit before the game

What will happen: Last year's fixture: Chelsea 7-0 Stoke. Chelsea's last three games: 8-0, 6-0, 6-0. Stoke: currently fulfilling my unpopular prediction they're going to be relegated this season. I hate to be predictable, but I'm going to have to go for a home win

Spurs v Wigan (3pm)

It promises to be a small crowd at White Hart Lane, with home supporters yet to float down from Cloud 9 after drawing Inter in the Champions League, and Wigan fans generally thin on the ground anyway.

And watching a fixture their beloved team won 9-1 last season, against an outfit that has conceded 18 goals in three matches, scoring none, serves only to set up giddy Spurs fans for the most almighty of crashes to the ground.

Anything other than a three-goal win here simply won't suffice. After all, Wigan just lost 4-0 and 6-0 at home. There's pride at stake here.

What won't happen: The following claim, very often: I very nearly predicted a 6-0 defeat for Wigan last week. The reason I didn't was simply because actually predicting a 6-0 result is akin to putting a pineapple up your backside and mooning Jason Lee. In short, it makes you look stupid

What will happen: Remember last week (it's OK, you don't have to) when I said, to quote, "a heavy defeat to a rampant Chelsea who just thumped a sorry West Brom could mean the end for Martinez"? The same applies to this game. Martinez needs to learn damage limitation – and quick

Wolves v Newcastle (3pm)

Michael Mancienne in loan move to Wolves shocker! You have to wonder how long this will go on for. It's a good switch, to be sure, but is Mancienne going to keep doing it until he's 30? He's the footballing equivalent of that gap year kid we all know: nice enough, but with no intention of cutting his ties and getting a full-time job.

In other news, Joey Barton has shaved his moustache, thank gawd, after Newcastle thrashed Villa. Seriously, who grows a moustache these days anyway? I've heard of a play-off beard but impersonating The Boys From The Blackstuff is just odd.

What won't happen: Matt Murray to play again: sadly, the Wolves keeper has been forced to retire through injury. Good luck to him in the future

What will happen: Newcastle return in full strength after their reserves were almost stunned by Accrington Stanley, but Wolves snatch a tight victory

Manchester United v West Ham (5.30pm, ESPN & HD, TalkSPORT Radio)

"Manchester United are unstoppable at home," shouts a TalkSPORT Radio commercial, "but can West Ham kickstart their season by getting their first point?" I think you've just answered your own question there, haven't you?

(Lawyer's note: I may have misquoted slightly)

What won't happen: Avram Grant to strike it third time lucky and, after failures with Chelsea and Portsmouth, finally win at Old Trafford

What will happen: He has to wait until next year, when he tries again with yet another team. Home win


Bolton v Birmingham (1.30pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, TalkSPORT Radio)


You know the cricket's on, right?

What won't happen: As boring a fixture as it is unfashionable: in fairness, this could actually be a cracker. It'll certainly be interesting to see how Birmingham bounce back from being temporarily rocked by Rochdale midweek, if indeed you can bounce back from being temporarily rocked by something. A bit lucky to win, they were.

What will happen: Both teams continue their good starts to the season, but neither grab three points (he means ‘draw‘ - Ed)

Liverpool v West Brom (3pm, TalkSPORT Radio)

It was nervy, but Liverpool secured their passage through to the Europa League group stages, something of a holy grail now the Champions League is something not to be discussed in the Merseyside area.

Their league form will cause even more frayed nerves should the Reds fail to win this most winnable of ties. The Trabzonspor triumph may put them back on the right track. But just think: if Pepe Reina hadn't flapped the ball into his own net to give Arsenal a point, Liverpool would have had a lot more positive momentum to carry into the game against Man City....

But then football is a game of ifs and buts. The difference is that Liverpool aren't the ‘if’ of anyone's jokes.

What won't happen: Anything but a home win, tight though it will be.

What will happen: Hopefully, Peter Odemwingie to continue to prove me wrong. I thought he was poor for Nigeria in the World Cup; a real Forrest Gump player, who can run but do little else. But he scored the winner on debut against Sunderland and looks destined to be one of the better part-Nigerian, part-Russian, part-Uzbekistani players of recent years

Sunderland v Manchester City (3pm, 5Live Radio)

It's not the start to the season Sunderland were hoping for: drawing despite a two-goal lead going into the last 15 against Birmingham, then losing to relegation favourites West Brom.

Further bad, though not unexpected, news is that Nedum Onouha can't play for the Black Cats in this match, seeing as he's on loan from City and, well, they're not stupid.

What City are is on a roll: the win against Liverpool will have revived their spirits and easing to victory in Europe gave their squad members some playing time. Not Shay Given though – he was on the bench against Timisoara and will be against Sunderland.

At the other end of the pitch, Sunderland are still stuck with young Simon Mignolet between the sticks, who was at fault for one of the two late goals conceded against Birmingham.

What won't happen: The home side get a first win of the season

What will happen: Sunderland lose, but eventually buy a goalkeeper – maybe even a certain Irishman unhappy at Eastlands...

Aston Villa v Everton (4pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5Live Radio (2nd half))

I think it was Jesus who first said “a week is a long time in football“. If it was, the carpenter's son showed he knew a lot more about the beautiful game than he did about carpentry (which is saying something). And for proof, you need look no further than Villa Park.

Seven days ago, the Villains were heroes and, more specifically, so was caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald. A win against West Ham, an away goal at last year's conquerors Rapid Vienna – it was all going so well. Now, they're out of Europe, have been humiliated 6-0 by new boys Newcastle and MacDonald doesn't look like the answer any more. Tough times ahead.

What won't happen: Plenty of time for Villa's new manager, whoever it is. Either they appoint someone in a rush to give him a few days before the transfer window shuts, or they bide their time and have to stick with the small squad they have

What will happen: Everton win the battle – 1-0 – and the war: come the end of the season, they'll beat Villa to a European place More to read...
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