The Simon Mayo-baiting, inaccurate crossing Prem Previews

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Yes, after a break from blogging long enough for some 30-odd games to go largely unpredicted, your weekly diversion from the real world into rambling nonsense returns, as we take a look at the coming Premier League fixtures.

A quick 2011 prediction: no more than four Premier League managers will still be at their current clubs by the end of this calendar year (Pulis, Martinez, Coyle, Wenger). Serious. Go on, get your betslips out.


Chelsea v Blackburn (3pm, Absolute Radio)

This was going to be a useful prediction but seeing as the office banter has descended into an occasionally vitriolic debate on the merits of El-Hadji Diouf after his most recent controversy, and specifically the evidence against him or lack thereof, it’s hard to get that out of the collective head. At least we all agree he’s a jeb-end, anyway.

That’s as much as you’re getting, Blackburn fans.

Chelsea will revert to type after demolishing Ipswich with a changed line-up, and ubiquitous Ashley Cole will almost certainly add another 90 to his current record of having played every minute this league season. He does get about, that boy.

What won’t happen: Diouf to sign for Chelsea in a part-exchange deal with Didier Drogba

What will happen: Mark Bunn to continue to deputise, and possibly impress, as Paul Robinson sits out with a groin strain. Nevertheless, home win

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

Overheard in the 5 Live commissioning studios: “Ooh, we’ve got a 3pm kick-off – WHO ARE MAN CITY PLAYING?”

West Brom-Blackpool, Wigan-Fulham and Chelsea-Blackburn all have potential to be better games than this inevitable home victory, but 5 Live is pleasing the moneymen by radio-ising this fixture. Well done, Absolute Radio, anyway.

City’s nightclub bouncer ‘one in, one out’ policy means Edin Dzeko joins the club just as Mario Balotelli gets himself crocked, perhaps thwacking his giant head against a low beam.

According to Roberto Mancini, Balotelli’s fitness alone will determine whether Manu Adebayor leaves the club, which, while being a blow to the confidence, provides a dangling carrot for Adebayor. Expect an assassination attempt against Super Mario soon.

Dzeko, at least, has already made himself popular with the Sky Blues fans (sorry, apparently it’s ‘Lazer Blue’) by stating that more folk in Manchester support City than United, which is basically true. That’s not so much taunting as it is a statement of fact.

In the Bosnian’s next interview, he’ll announce to the world that United have been faring a touch better than their rivals in recent years but City have a bit of money behind them now.

What won’t happen: Dzeko goes the whole hog and wees on a portrait of Sir Matt Busby

What will happen: Earth-shatteringly dull home victory

Stoke v Bolton (3pm)

Back in the day – ie last season – this would be a horrible fixture, but not so much now. Bolton have been playing like Barcelona only can in their dreams (if their own fans are to be believed) and Stoke are showing considerable ambition in trying to recruit Demba Ba to improve their attacking prowess.

A cynic might say Ba is a bit too exciting a player to go to the Potteries. An optimist realises his name would provide tabloid newspapers with a veritable field day.

What won’t happen: Stoke land Beckham on a one-match loan, only for the former England captain to sprain his ankle stepping off the London-to-Potteries train

What will happen: A mostly full-strength Stoke side, missing only Mamady Sidibe through a calf injury, match freewheelin’ Bolton and their four subs blow for blow – score draw

West Brom v Blackpool (3pm)

With Peter Odem-chicken-wingie and ‘Call Me’ Ishmael Miller both doubtful, Simon Cox will have a chance to score his first league goal this season for the Baggies. Apparently he’s a cousin of someone we know. Possibly.

It’s some 46 years since Blackpool won at West Brom, but they’ll be knackered after giving it their all to beat Liverpool. Few people would argue it wasn’t worth the effort, but it does mean they might struggle here.

What won’t happen: Boaz Myhill to find graffiti on his locker saying, “THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE” as Scott Carson cackles insanely in the background

What will happen: West Brom’s lack of cover upfront to show as they fail to finish off a tired Blackpool

Wigan v Fulham (3pm)

The Latics will be pleased by the news that Franco di Santo and Charles N’Zogbia are back from injury and suspension respectively, although the highly useful Tom Cleverly joins Victor Moses and James McCarthy on the sidelines.

They may also be pleased to hear that Fulham haven’t won at Wigan since September 1992, when Roberto Martinez was in his first season playing professional football.

Sadly, Mauro Boselli has proven himself to be a waste of money for Wigan. Their record signing at £6m, he finds himself shipped out on loan just months into his new start, slipping in the pecking order behind the likes of, well, Franco di Santo.

This is why you should not sign strikers directly from South American clubs. Oh, they can all whack them in for Estudiantes, but if they’ve not played in a top European competition before then they can’t do shit (see also strikers signed from the Dutch league). If you played Football Manager, Martinez, you’d know this.

And talking of surprising strikers, but in a slightly more positive way, Moussa Dembele should return for Fulham after eight weeks out.

What won’t happen: An accurate prediction of a Wigan game, ever

What will happen: Typically, Boselli to find his scoring boots in Serie A and stay there. Home win here

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

They’re a funny old team, Ipswich. You could argue they’re a barometer of Big Four form in the Premier League. If you can set one mutual opposition as a marker for how two teams are performing, what to make of Arsenal going down 1-0 to the Tractor Boys in a semi-final first leg after Chelsea demolish the same lot 7-0 three days previously?

Obviously, this would tell you Chelsea are in fine form, while Wenger’s boys are struggling. But Arsenal got the better of the Blues just after Christmas, and have every reason to feel confident of keeping up the pace on the top two in this game against the Hammers.

You do wonder whether Wenger is ignoring the need for a world-class ‘keeper through stubbornness or genuine myopia, though. If he doesn’t sign Given, or a similarly talented and available no1, in this transfer window he’s not doing his side any favours.

New loan signing Wayne Bridge may do West Ham a few favours, though, as he’s expected to start. Expect him to work on that 0% cross success rate from last season.

What won’t happen: Bridge to land a cross on a team-mate’s head, ever

What will happen: Arsenal get their revenge on unhappy Hammers


Birmingham v Aston Villa (12pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, TalkSPORT Radio

Why’s this televised ahead of Sunderland-Newcastle then? High-flying Sunderland vs Crazy-Arse Newcastle or underachieving Birmingham vs underachieving Villa in a not-even-relegation-battle-because-they’ll-both-be-fine tussle?

Oh well. This game should be a ‘cracker’, with both teams ‘impressing’ and ‘putting on a show’. The result will be ‘3-3’.

What won’t happen: Villa to miss the suspended Heskey

What will happen: Villa to miss the suspended Ashley Young. Birmingham win

Sunderland v Newcastle (12pm)

This isn’t even on radio? For flip’s sake...

What won’t happen: Shola Ameobi to rack up the goals despite dirty looks from the jealous  and on-looking Andy Carroll

What will happen: This blog to let down fans from a northeasterly direction by failing to make up for the lack of coverage by at least giving a bit of a preview. Sorry. Will a prediction of a draw to please both sides be enough of an apology?

Liverpool v Everton (2.05pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, TalkSPORT Radio)

It’s a big match-up for King Kenny in his first home game since his resurrection. It won’t be an easy one, especially as he’ll insist on sitting in the Kop End while Sammy Lee takes charge of proceedings.

Many managers would be under pressure, but Dalglish could get away with literal murder and still be loved in Liverpool, providing it wasn’t the ghost of Bill Shankly he laid to rest (presumably summoning the spirit first just so he could exorcise it and kill it again...sorry, haven’t really thought this one through).

Lose this and the fans can, and will, blame Hodgson for leaving the team in tatters. Win and Dalglish will be proclaimed as the new Jesus Christ (even more so). No Carra or Gerra, though.

What won’t happen: Steven Pienaar to join Bolton, although it would be good to see them challenging the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham for his signature

What will happen: Everton break bleeding Red hearts with a late equaliser

Spurs v Manchester United (4.10pm, Sky Sports 1 & HD1, 5 Live Radio)

Beckham. Beckham? Beckham Beckham Beckham Beckham. Beckham.

Tottenham still haven’t beaten the Red Devils since 2001, and will rely upon attack rather than defence to break them down this time. Wilson Palacios holding in midfield (albeit not particularly well) should allow Luka Modric to play higher up the pitch, rather than ineffectually attempting to surge forward from deep.

Both Mark Lawrenson and celebrity pundit Simon Mayo predict Spurs to break United’s unbeaten run in the league, so this blog is stubbornly going to predict an away win. So there.

What won’t happen: Ickle Jonny Evans keeps a fresh Nemanja Vidic out of the team, prompting riots of such indescribable scale that not just one but all future Northern Ireland v Serbia games are forced to be played behind closed doors

What will happen: Genuinely an away win, perhaps with more controversy as Nani scoops the ball up from the centre circle with his hands and runs into the Spurs net. Referee Mike Dean does not see this...