The ribcage punching, coffee soiling, Chekhov-loving Prem Preview
Relegation weekend, yeah? Because if you didnÃ¢ÂÂt know, itÃ¢ÂÂs a statistical fact that 97 per cent of Premier League relegation battles are actually settled on the second weekend of November: itÃ¢ÂÂs these games that ultimately really matter.
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs why this Saturday we have such fangtastic dogfights as West Ham-Blackpool, Wigan-West Brom and Wolves-Bolton.
Oh, except... hang on... at the moment theyÃ¢ÂÂre not relegation six-pointers, any of them. West Brom are looking pretty comfy at the moment, as are Blackpool, and Bolton are as high as sixth. Admittedly, Wigan, Wolves and West Ham are still making up the bottom three, but when arenÃ¢ÂÂt they?
So once again, EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs top league throws up an unpredictable season Ã¢ÂÂ one so exciting and different that even Ollie the Octopus, shamelessly trading off his relative PaulÃ¢ÂÂs fame, couldnÃ¢ÂÂt foresee what might happen.
But thatÃ¢ÂÂs because heÃ¢ÂÂs rubbish.
Aston Villa v Manchester United (12.45pm, Sky Sports 2 & HD2, 5 Live Radio)
An intriguing match-up, this, with Villa unbeaten in four and United unbeaten since last season. Admittedly itÃ¢ÂÂs the most unconvincing evasion of defeat since FulhamÃ¢ÂÂs effort at the start of this campaign, but results are results, and United are grinding them out like Stoke in a coffee beans factory.
The biggest virus since Trojan seems to have hit Old Trafford, with up to eight players rumoured to be under the weather at one point. Some Vicks has done the job since then, but the visitors are still likely to be missing Rafael to a dead leg Ã¢ÂÂ always sounds like a crap injury, that Ã¢ÂÂ and Patrice Evra, while Giggs, Anderson and Gibson are all doubtful. Also, Scholes is suspended, Hargreaves and Owen permacrocks and Rooney on a witness protection scheme in America.
A good chance for Villa then? Maybe not Ã¢ÂÂ an injury to Carew as well as Heskey leaves them short upfront, while no fewer than four players have knee injuries. Sounds like the famously no-nonsense Gerard Houllier has been whipping out the kneebreakers and getting on the phone to the glue factory.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: A home win here: their last triumph over FergieÃ¢ÂÂs charges at Villa Park was before Gerard Houllier was even in charge of Liverpool.
What will happen: Away win
Manchester City v Birmingham (3pm, 2nd half only on 5 Live Radio, full commentary on 5 Live Sports Extra)
Adebayor and Tevez have shared seven goals in their last four appearances each against Birmingham, and Citeh recorded a thumping 5-1 win in this fixture last year.
It bodes well for the home side and Roberto ManciniÃ¢ÂÂs inspired rotation technique. Basically, make sure your star Italian striker gets sent off after scoring twice so heÃ¢ÂÂs suspended for a while, then everyone gets a game. Sorted.
Apart from poor old Roque Santa Cruz, of course.What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Santa Cruz to get the respect he deserves
What will happen: Santa Cruz to move to Fulham or a similarly placed club, or quite possibly abroad Ã¢ÂÂ to Santa Cruz, even. ItÃ¢ÂÂs not that far. A home win knackers Brum further.
Newcastle v Fulham (3pm, Absolute Radio)
ItÃ¢ÂÂs slightly scary seeing Newcastle in fifth, because the last time that happened this blogger was in nappies (at least, thatÃ¢ÂÂs how long it feels). We definitely donÃ¢ÂÂt want a return to those days (the nappies, that isÃ¢ÂÂ¦).
Nor do we want a return to the days of Joey Barton being allowed to walk the streets. It was one hell of a punch he landed to Morten Gamst PedersenÃ¢ÂÂs ribcage, perhaps he was incensed by this...
But what was even more impressive was the way he tried to persuade the referee and even Pedersen that it was a slap and not a punch, which basically involved Barton hitting Pedersen over and over again while the official watched. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a genius way to get in some repeated assault, but hardly an original one: we never knew Barton was a Blackadder fan...
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: BartonÃ¢ÂÂs three-match ban to be rescinded on account of good behaviour in the past
What will happen: Fulham to miss their excellent signing Carlos Salcido, out for a month with a Villa-esque knee injury. Newcastle take only their second home win over Fulham in six attempts
Spurs v Blackburn (3pm)
Crikey, youÃ¢ÂÂd never know Jason Roberts was frustrated with being permanently benched at Blackburn. If his celebration upon scoring the winner at Newcastle wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a Ã¢ÂÂf**k youÃ¢ÂÂ to Sam Allardyce, we donÃ¢ÂÂt know what is Ã¢ÂÂ short of taking a dump in his morning coffee, of course.
Maybe Roberts should go to Spurs. Ã¢ÂÂArry has already complained about a lack of pace in his attack. And youÃ¢ÂÂd think the Grenadan Ã¢ÂÂ Roberts, not Redknapp Ã¢ÂÂ has to be quicker than human lamppost Peter Crouch.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Defoe to feature, as rumoured. It would be an incredible boon for Spurs, but an even more incredible error to rush him back
What will happen: We canÃ¢ÂÂt keep getting Spurs predictions wrong, surely... this one will be a draw. Which means itÃ¢ÂÂll probably now be 8-0 one way or the other
West Ham v Blackpool (3pm)
The last time these two met was in 1971, when men wore hats and Avram Grant was recovering from his Bar Mitzvah. The West Ham boss should have an easier task in this game than an epic Hebrew recital, and one that involves a little more Ian Holloway.
YouÃ¢ÂÂd hope Ollie doesnÃ¢ÂÂt carry out his threat to quit if he is punished for fielding a Ã¢ÂÂweakÃ¢ÂÂ team against Aston Villa Ã¢ÂÂ but then, of course, he shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be punished at all.
Forgetting the predictable gag about any Blackpool line-up being a weak line-up (it doesnÃ¢ÂÂt really work now theyÃ¢ÂÂre doing quite well), it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a bad team at all. And he had a good reason for resting players: after plenty of games in quick succession, theyÃ¢ÂÂre knackered. If Holloway is censured, it will be the biggest miscarriage of justice since Jesus was crucified. And thatÃ¢ÂÂs not an exaggerationÃ¢ÂÂ¦
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: West Ham have found their scoring boots at last, thanks in part to a shot from Scott Parker against West Brom that, but for the net, would still be travelling, but they need to convert goals into wins.
What will happen: Draw
Wigan v West Brom (3pm)
The BaggiesÃ¢ÂÂ amazing start has been curtailed by taking only one point from three games Ã¢ÂÂ two of them against relegation candidates too Ã¢ÂÂ but theyÃ¢ÂÂll feel confident against a Latics side without a league win in six matches. Still, their defence is looking a little tighter now.
In the revolving door of suspensions, Youssuf Mulumbu returns from a ban for West Brom but Gonzalo Jara still has one game to go, and Steve Gohouri returns from his ban for Wigan.
In other news, thereÃ¢ÂÂs still a direct correlation between the relegation zone and your team beginning with sÃ¢ÂÂWÃ¢ÂÂ.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Martinez to play 8-1-1 and go for the point
What will happen: Away win gets West Brom back on track
Wolves v Bolton (3pm)
Bolton have a great chance to keep up with the big boys for a bit longer here: a win could take them into fifth. Cue a spate of injuries as the Trotters succumb to altitude sickness.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs a slightly different story for Wolves, who, despite always being touted as relegation fodder, should really be doing better. They have a good squad and a manager with a sense of humour. That puts them above most teams.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Stephen Ward to feature for Wolves after having stitches in his leg on Wednesday (ow)
What will happen: A draw brings Bolton back to Earth
Stoke v Liverpool (5.30pm, ESPN & ESPN HD, TalkSPORT Radio)
The late televised kick-off is an opportunity for Liverpool to know where they stand, or slide, before going into battle at Stoke. While weÃ¢ÂÂre here patronising the Potters with accusation of violent football and long throws, take a look at this baby and turn the sound UP.
Things are looking better for Roy Hodgson now, and the Reds actually have a chance to push back into the top five with a result here.
Unbelievably, six Ã¢ÂÂ SIX Ã¢ÂÂ teams are tied on 16 points, meaning his team could also be as low as 16th if results donÃ¢ÂÂt go their way. Close league. Closer than... something... thatÃ¢ÂÂs close. ItÃ¢ÂÂs OK, the editor will add something funny here [Get stuffed, itÃ¢ÂÂs nearly lunchtime - Ed].
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: All the managers in the league to vote on each other, with Pulis being relegated to the Championship on account of being a ref-bashing misery.
What will happen: A frustrating draw for Liverpool ala Wigan on Wednesday, and tiresome calls for HodgsonÃ¢ÂÂs head on a platter to renew once more
Everton v Arsenal (2pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, TalkSPORT Radio)
Marouane Fellaini in sending off shocker! HeÃ¢ÂÂll miss this game after his latest red card. Arsenal will miss Kieran Gibbs and Thomas Vermaelen; less so the injured Manuel Almunia, as Flappy-hand-ski seems finally to have got his act together. This is a problem: his moniker doesnÃ¢ÂÂt lend itself to a more positive nickname unless you just emphasise the Ã¢ÂÂFABÃ¢ÂÂ part and have done with it. But surely no tabloid would be that lazyÃ¢ÂÂ¦
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: The Polish glovesman (isnÃ¢ÂÂt that a Chekhov play?) to suddenly stumble upon an English grandparent and Capello to pick up the phon
What will happen: GUNNERS SAVED BY FAB-IANSKI. Away win
Chelsea v Sunderland (4.10pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5 Live Radio)
It was a bit of a surprise to see Ray Wilkins thrown out on his ear, the former Chelsea assistant manager now out of a job.
The popular explanation is that, having inherited Wilkins from Big Phil Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti has decided he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt really need him as part of his coaching set-up and waited until it would cost nothing to get rid of him.
Either that or the Italian has realised, entirely correctly, that thereÃ¢ÂÂs nobody less attractive in a tracksuit.
What wonÃ¢ÂÂt happen: Away win
What will happen: Home win. WeÃ¢ÂÂre nothing if not concise.