Prem Preview: Fruit blenders, Babylon Zoo & the ghost of Steve Harper
No haikus this week and, to the lasting beneficial mental health of all of you, no rants about FIFA or the World Cup bidding system either.
Suffice it to say that Russia, with its racism, homophobia and vast expanses of Arctic wasteland, will make superb hosts for 2018, and Qatar, with its non-existent fanbase, lack of footballing prowess and population just over half that of Wales, will make even better hosts for 2022.
Anyway, back to the self-professed Ã¢ÂÂbest league in the worldÃ¢ÂÂ that has put England on the world football map to such an extent it will now go a minimum of 70 years without hosting its premier competition.
Arsenal v Fulham (3pm, Absolute Radio)
Few would have believed, a while back, that Mark Schwarzer would be in the away dressing room for this match, but he obviously loves Fulham so much that, after several Arsenal bids were turned down, heÃ¢ÂÂs committed his future to the west Londoners.
If you can call it a future. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a real coup for Fulham keeping his services, but thereÃ¢ÂÂs a reason itÃ¢ÂÂs a one-year deal with a later option of two Ã¢ÂÂ heÃ¢ÂÂll be dead soon.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Andy Johnson to last 90 minutes, though itÃ¢ÂÂs good to see him back
What will happen: Two out of form teams here, but the Gunners seem to have turned the corner from their Month From Hell and Fulham have never, ever, ever won away to Arsenal, in some 100 years and 24 attempts (of which theyÃ¢ÂÂve lost 21). Home win
Birmingham v Spurs (3pm)
Spurs will want to carry the momentum from a fantastic result against Liverpool into this game. Birmingham are tougher opponents, with tougher fans Ã¢ÂÂ although it was good of Villa supporters to pity the pitch invaders for standing and throw them some chairs for a nice sit-down.
The Blues are blissfully injury-free, with only Hleb and McFadden doubts. Tottenham, on the other hand, will be without up to ten players including Younes Kaboul and Rafael Van der Vaart, who both withdrew against Liverpool, the Dutchman after only 10 minutes. Well, the showers take so long to heat up at White Hart Lane.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Sebastian LarssonÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂNo, YOUÃ¢ÂÂ goal celebration to catch on. Honourable as it is to congratulate a team-mate for a good assist, it did look a bit luvvy
What will happen: Conceivably, a decent Christmas period for Spurs. December notoriously sees a difficult run, but after this game and Chelsea, their four-week cram session sees them face Blackpool, Villa, Newcastle and Fulham Ã¢ÂÂ all winnable ties. First, though, itÃ¢ÂÂs a battling draw here
Blackburn v Wolves (3pm)
Two teams you really, really donÃ¢ÂÂt associate with scoring Ã¢ÂÂ hey, just imagine either Big Sam or Big Mick coming on to you in a nightclub Ã¢ÂÂ are actually showing some promise to do just that.
Wolves scored three (THREE) last week while Blackburn shipped seven (SEVEN)...hmm, that capitals thing only really works when youÃ¢ÂÂre using numbers. Blackburn conceded 7 (SEVEN) Ã¢ÂÂ yes, much better.
And thatÃ¢ÂÂs not all: in the last four top-flight fixtures between these two, the fans have seen 16 goals. There is some benefit in bringing a DVD player to a live match, then.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: With Wolves poor on the road and Rovers trying to recover from that humiliation at Old Trafford, there could be more shutting up of shops here than in mining towns during the 1980s
What will happen: Wolves avoid defeat on the road for the first time in seven matches. Draw.
Chelsea v Everton (3pm, 5 Live Radio)
Mary-Ann Fellaini makes his annual return from suspension just in time to tag Mikel Arteta, who begins his three-match ban. They could really miss his creativity against Chelsea, but at least Fellaini can decapitate a few more Blues defenders Ã¢ÂÂ theyÃ¢ÂÂre almost down to the bare bones.
DonÃ¢ÂÂt bet on an away win though: EvertonÃ¢ÂÂs only Premier League triumph at Stamford Bridge was 1-0 in 1994, thanks to a Paul Rideout goal. For the younger readers among you, Paul Rideout was the inventor of the fruit blender.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Chelsea to ever listen to me and buy some more defenders; for this game, the stars align to let John Terry come back into the team to tag with injured Alex
What will happen: Ã¢ÂÂShockÃ¢ÂÂ draw
Manchester City v Bolton (3pm)
Obviously with a squad list longer than a Qatari phonebook Ã¢ÂÂ actually, thatÃ¢ÂÂs not hard Ã¢ÂÂ some Manchester City deadwood will be cut in January and set to float down the river like so many uninvestigated corpses.
According to inside sauces, these unwanted players include the talented Emmanuel Adebayor, the superb Shay Given, the promising Michael Johnson, the nippy Shaun Wright-Phillips, the underrated Roque Santa Cruz, the reliable Jo, and Wayne Bridge.
One of the more bizarre choices for departure may be Pablo Zabaleta, who, despite not being the sort of household name City like to acquire, has impressed at full-back. In fact, heÃ¢ÂÂs been almost their only attacking option behind Tevez.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs hard to understand, but then with Manchester City, youÃ¢ÂÂre just not meant to.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: A more beautiful team goal for Bolton than their second against Blackpool last week...oh, who are we kidding, theyÃ¢ÂÂll do it again with their eyes closed. Better than Barcelona, these boys
What will happen: Manchester City to play Real Madrid to BoltonÃ¢ÂÂs BarÃÂ§a? Afraid not, sorry Ã¢ÂÂ score draw
Wigan v Stoke (3pm)
The clubs themselves probably donÃ¢ÂÂt even care about this match.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Record signing and flop Mauro Boselli, and to a lesser extent Wigan, to ever get their act together. He might have to soon, though: Victor Moses is out injured for three months
What will happen: Away win of the not-so-crushing variety
Blackpool v Manchester United (5.30pm, ESPN & ESPN HD, TalkSPORT Radio)
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs a nasty rumour this game will be called off due to bad weather (Ian Holloway has been promoting Blackpool beach for use as training facilities, itÃ¢ÂÂs got that bad). ThatÃ¢ÂÂd be a disaster for ESPN as much as the fans: with the loss of Monday night footbaaaall they donÃ¢ÂÂt get as many games as they did.
If the game does go ahead, expect goals: Blackpool havenÃ¢ÂÂt kept a clean sheet at home yet and have scored twice in every game bar one.
Expect Manchester UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs players to wrap up warm, too. Tevez may no longer be there with his snood, but you wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt put it past Berba to wear leggings, three pairs of gloves and thermal underwear plugged into the pitchside mains.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Ian Holloway to bray like a donkey in his post-match conference and announce heÃ¢ÂÂs the son of God, all to the tune of Spaceman by Babylon Zoo. His mind does seem to be going that way, though
What will happen: This could be just what United need after a 4-0 thumping by West Ham: away win
STOP PRESS! What won't happen: The game to be played this weekend - it's been postponed due to a frozen pitch...
West Brom v Newcastle (1.30pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, TalkSPORT Radio)
LetÃ¢ÂÂs face it, West BromÃ¢ÂÂs Carling Cup defeat to Ipswich was inevitable. Arsenal have the tournament wrapped up this year, which is just as well because fans have been begging for silverware about as prestigious as a 2am QVC sale.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Newcastle to be torn apart as thoroughly as they were by Bolton a fortnight ago, as Kevin Nolan reminds his team-mates that if they donÃ¢ÂÂt buck things up, heÃ¢ÂÂll make them live in his unheated conservatory with the ghost of Steve Harper
What will happen: Home win. Just
Sunderland v West Ham (4pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5 Live Radio)
Oddly, Sunderland have only won once in their last 11 Premier League outings against West Ham, scoring in just four. YouÃ¢ÂÂd expect that to change in this game, even if Avram GrantÃ¢ÂÂs side did over Steve Bruce here in the Carling Cup Ã¢ÂÂ before dumping out Manchester United for good measure.
Famously, Carlton Cole scored two goals in a game for only the second time in his career, and the first time against top-flight opposition.
Before we get carried away with this statistic, we should remember that if his one-time England rival Emile Heskey scored a double, Villa fans would be bidding for a national holiday (or at least a car jack to pick up their jaws from the floor).
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Victor Obinna to destroy a team as comfortably as he did Manchester United Ã¢ÂÂ itÃ¢ÂÂs what youÃ¢ÂÂd expect from an Inter loanee, but not when itÃ¢ÂÂs taken him 70 shots to score in the Premier League
What will happen: 11-0. Oops, typo. 1-0
Liverpool v Aston Villa (8pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5 Live Radio)
Hodgson out, Houllier in? Give it time Ã¢ÂÂ the chants will come...
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Hodgson to last the season, even if he guided Liverpool to a solid third and Europa League glory. HeÃ¢ÂÂs no Kenny Dalglish, yÃ¢ÂÂknow
What will happen: A home win shuts the naysayers up for a bit longer. Well, the walk home at least...