Premier League Previews: 'Grand Slam Saturday'

Well, we didn’t see that one coming.

No less than 12 days after we claimed that there was still an element of surprise left in the English game, the national team romp to a unexpected if not unwelcome victory in Zagreb.

However all eyes have now quickly focussed back on matters domestic in time for this weekend’s Premier League line-up, with two games in particular sticking out like Peter Crouch’s feet from the end of his bed.

If recent press hype and internet message board bravado is accurate and Manchester City really are about to oust Arsenal and join Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool in next year’s Champions League (they aren’t, by the way, but just go along with it), then Saturday presents us with a double header of top four face-offs the likes of which haven’t been seen since, well, March.

First on the agenda for ‘Grand Slam Saturday’ (see what we did there, sorry Sky Sports) is Manchester United’s trip to Anfield, which will pit former Spurs strike partners Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane against one another.

"We could get a place together in Warrington"

Berbatov is set to make his United debut in Saturday's game, with many pundits (or at least Gary Pallister in Metro) claiming the Bulgarian might be the missing piece of United’s jigsaw.

Quite what the completed image of the puzzle represents is a mystery to us, but given that United won the Premier League and Champions League without Berbatov last time out, it must be pretty bloomin’ spectacular and not one of those ludicrously difficult ones that’s just a load of baked beans.

The most interesting thing will be seeing quite how Sir Alex Ferguson accommodates Berbatov, Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Scholes and Nani in one side, with the likelihood being that at least two of them will be disappointed at any one time.

At first glance it might seems like, when everyone’s fit, Scholes and Nani may be the ones to take to the dugout, but if anyone can profit from Berbatov’s ability to hold the ball up for an age and lay it off into space, it’s the Oldham-born ginger assassin (that Scholes, not Nani, by the way).

Rafa Benitez also seems to be struggling to accommodate his former Spurs star into his side, although with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres major doubts for Saturday's clash, he may not be afforded the luxury of a choice of where to play Keane for the time being.

If Torres and Gerrard are missing for Liverpool then you’d have to fancy Manchester United to win at Anfield for the sixth time in seven seasons, however we suspect Gerrard at least may have miraculously recovered in time to play for the Reds, having missed out for England in midweek, so a draw might be more likely given United are yet to hit first gear.

Middle Eastlands 

Saturday’s teatime kick-off sees Chelsea travel north to ‘Middle Eastlands’ to take on newly minted Manchester City.

The obvious pre-match headline maker is Robinho who, having spent the entire summer kicking and screaming like a small child in order to force a move to Chelsea, is now a Manchester City player.

Without wanting to rain on City fans’ parade (and they probably have actually had one in the last two weeks) when Pele, who worked with a young Robinho at Santos, describes the player as ‘needing counselling’ and claims Chelsea were ‘lucky’ not to have signed him, it might not bode too well for his long term prospects at a club he quite possible hadn’t heard of before lunchtime on transfer deadline day.

If this man says you need counselling, you've got problems

That said, the league really could do with a phenomenal player at a club outside the established Big Four since Berbatov’s move to Man United, so we really hope it doesn’t end in tears.

In any case, this match may come a bit too soon for the Brazilian, who only touched back down in Manchester on Friday morning having spent the best part of the previous fortnight on international duty in South America and will only have trained with his new team-mates once.

If City really are to come good it won’t happen overnight, and you have to fancy Chelsea to pick up the points this time round.

One man who, at least currently at the time of writing, actually is on the payroll at Stamford Bridge is coach Steve Clarke.

The 45 year old Scot, a servant to the West London club for over 15 years as player and coach, has apparently decided to call time on his tenure in West London in favour of a move east to link up with former team-mate Gianfranco Zola at West Ham.

The latest appears to be that Chelsea have rejected his resignation and refused him permission to talk to West Ham.

It only seems fair Chelsea take the moral high ground in these contractual matters, given that when they’ve previously recruited members of their own backroom staff, such as Peter Kenyon and Frank Arnesen, they’ve done so in an entirely above-board and commendable fashion. Obviously...

Beverly Hills Cop 2

The weekend’s final match is a replay of one of 2007/08’s most spectacular and memorable matches, as Aston Villa go to Tottenham.

That match, which Spurs played in an odd-looking blue and white halved kit to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the release of Beverly Hills Cop 2, or something, finished 4-4, with Spurs battling back from 4-1 down with three goals in the final 20 minutes.

Murphy: Celebrated by Spurs, apparently...

Possibly somewhat unsurprisingly, given the nature of Juande Ramos’ summer cull, all four of Spurs goalscorers that evening (Berbatov, Keane, Steed Malbranque and Younes Kaboul) have since departed N17, although whether this was under the ‘advice’ of Sergei Rebrov is unclear.

The sad fact of the matter is, the match won't be a fraction as compelling as last year's (they said, hoping to be proven wrong... yet again). Spurs have strengthend at the back with the signing of Vedran Corluka and Heurelho Gomes whilst being weakened at their formerly sharp end, having lost Keane, Berbatov and Jermain Defoe since that 4-4 classic. The bulk of Villa's summer spending has also been on defensive players.'s Premier League Predictions

Saturday September 13

Liverpool 1-1 Man Utd
Blackburn 1-3 Arsenal
Fulham 1-1 Bolton
Newcastle 2-1 Hull
Portsmouth 2-1 Middlesbrough
West Brom 1-1 West Ham
Wigan 2-0 Sunderland
Man City 0-2 Chelsea (Live on Setanta Sports 1, 5:30pm)

Sunday September 14

Stoke 1-1 Everton

Monday September 15

Tottenham 1-1 Aston Villa (Live on Setanta Sports 1, 8pm)