The Toy-Smashing, Gut-Punching Premier Preview

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You have to feel a bit sorry for Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello.

The two Italians have worked towards team unity and discipline, only to be rewarded with a bunch of footballers who can't keep their knobs out of a shop window.

Still, the heat is off John Terry for a bit, and not just in the bedroom. In vogue for tabloids right now are left-backs, with Ashley Cole dumped by Cheryl – follow @CherylKerl on Twitter for hot insider gossip – and Wayne Bridge withdrawing from the England set-up due to fears his position had become "untenable and potentially divisive."

That's hardly his fault, but it's interesting to see him being the bigger man (minds out of the gutter, you).

It's the kids this blog feels sorry for. All the wannabe marauding left-backs will be teased off the school field and become withdrawn strikers, psychologically and positionally.

Now for role models they have to look to '80s detective duo Warnock and Baines. Or Nicky Shorey. What? It could happen.

And just to state the obvious: why on Earth would you cheat on Cheryl Cole née Tweedy? She's pant-pumpingly gorgeous. It must be the accent.


Birmingham vs Wigan

Wigan have announced they will be relaying the DW Stadium pitch at the end of the month, before Liverpool's visit. Thank God for that: in the Spurs match it looked like a rugby pitch – probably because it was.

Wigan Warriors played home games on consecutive Fridays leading up to the Spurs game – not a novel occurrence, but one that has to be considered when explaining the shocking state of the pitch. Unless there was a very localised apocalypse in the Wigan area.

In Birmingham, meanwhile, Alex McLeish has said he wants to keep Joe Hart either on an extended loan or on a permanent deal. Good idea – he's been superb; the best Hart since Tony. But he won't make the Manchester City starting XI much, that's a Given. Mancini may well let him go.

What won't happen: A permanent deal for Hart – extended loan's most likely.

What will happen: Open game; home win.

Hart to Hart: "Nice neckwear." "Thanks, you too"

Bolton vs Wolves

One of two relegation head-to-heads this week (the other being Burnley-Portsmouth), and both sides would dearly love three points.

Never mind, eh?

What won't happen: Either side to pull clear of the scrap.

What will happen: Draw.

Burnley vs Portsmouth

So, Portsmouth have finally entered administration – the first Premier League club ever to do so.

It's good news, in a way: delaying the court case and docking points to see them relegated instead of dissolving them altogether saves both the club (however temporarily) and the thorny issue of what would have happened regarding the rest of their fixtures. The season would become a farce.

Pompey could still end up with a record low points tally, though: a nine-point deduction will take them down to just seven points, four fewer than Derby's 'haul' of 11 in 2007-8. Well, there's a target to aim for, at least.

By the way, Portsmouth's debt: £60m. Manchester United's debt: £716m. Hmm.

Oh, and Burnley: Graham Alexander may return, though it's unlikely. The Clarets have another record to add to the Premier League's oldest-ever debutant (Alexander, 38) and the worst away record of any team: the first Premier League winner of Countdown, Clarke Carlisle.

He racked up 89 points, a hell of a score, although he'll probably struggle as soon as he has to travel (ho ho).

Fair play to him for ignoring the distraction of Jeff Stelling's hosting of the Channel 4 staple, reminiscent of a drunk teenager's performance in front of the elderly in-laws, trying not to offend.

Can Carlisle help Burnley to fix their away game woes before the season's countdown reaches its "Di-doo, di-doo, diddly-doo, BOOM"? Now there's a conundrum.

What won't happen: Any more appalling Countdown jokes, promise.

What will happen: This match is a must-win for Burnley while Portsmouth have nothing to play for, it seems – and the result is a disastrous draw for the hosts.

"Consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant, away win"

Chelsea vs Manchester City

Echoes of hollow laughter from Mark Hughes can be heard around Eastlands this week after the Citizens (does anyone really call them this?) saw their FA Cup journey come to an end.

To make matters worse, Emmanuel Adebayor now has a four-match suspension, to add to Patrick Vieira's three-match ban. Tch. What can you do, eh?

In Chelsea's Champions League game against Inter, Jose Mourinho arguably showed the Premier League what it's missing, with some daring substitutions as he looked for a big win.

Meanwhile, it's Cech-out time for the Blues after a nasty injury that should see the goalkeeper out for the season.

Chelsea have kept a clean sheet in their last six Cech-less games – but anyone who saw Hilario's kicking against Inter won't be feeling too confident. What's Ross Turnbull doing these days?

This blog's throwing this out there now: Chelsea to lose the league after Hilario-us cock-ups add to defensive distractions in Terry and Cole. You read it here first.

What won't happen: Chelsea to win the league.

What will happen: Chelsea nonetheless win this FA Cup quarter-final that never was, since City were knocked out by Stoke...

Stoke vs Arsenal

...who had knocked out Arsenal the round before, and would you know it, here they are again. The odds are literally several to one.

Tony Pulis praised Beaker lookalike Dave Kitson, who has forced his way back into the first team, announcing: "He's done smashing."

That's either a fresh approach to grammar or an insight into Kitson's fitness regime, demolishing his toy cars and pretending he's the Incredible Hulk. Beaker ANGRY. Beaker SMASH.

"Mee-mee-mee-mee." "Oh give it a rest, Dave"

Now it's time for Wenger's Whine of the Week.

Will it be referees again? Let's spin the Wheel of Alleged Misfortune... nope, this week Wenger's target is the media, for pressurising Theo Walcott into rushing back to full fitness.

What does he think journalists are doing, holding a gun to his head while he runs on a treadmill, stumbling and crying?

What won't happen: Walcott won't make the World Cup, despite/because of what Wenger says.

What will happen: Arsenal close the gap on second to two points.


Liverpool vs Blackburn

Surely no Liverpool match can be worse than last week's depressfest against Manchester City, which saw the fewest shots on target – two – of any Premier League game this season?

Oh, they're playing Blackburn. So yes, it can.

Ryan Nelsen's out for the visitors. The Kiwi has had surgery on his knee before (he only has one), leading Big Sam to say "I'm hoping that he's twisted his ankle and not his knee." Yeah, take that, ankle! Talocrural bastard!

What won't happen: Nelsen returns, and twists his ankle.

What will happen: Liverpool paint the town red with a stunning 1-0 victory. No – 2-0. This blog's feeling kerrazy.

Sunderland vs Fulham

Fulham knocked out holders Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday to progress to the Europa League's last 16 with Liverpool, but – whisper it – not Everton.

Football may not necessarily have been the winner, but Fulham did what had to be done and did it very well.

They'll have the momentum going into this game against Sunderland, who don't seem to have won a game since 1996.

Black Cats manager Steve Bruce was fined £2,500 for criticising official Andre Marriner, using the words "obscene," "a joke" and "an outrage" to describe the sending off of Michael Turner against Man City in December.

He escaped more serious punishment due to his "exemplary record" (!). Words fail this blog. If only they'd fail him more often.

What won't happen: Bruce shouts at the ref for missing a slight infringement, before punching him in the gut, removing his manhood with cheese-wire and posting it to FA headquarters with a note saying, "All of you – you're next." He receives a £50 fine and a one-week touchline ban.

What will happen: Unexpected home win. We know! We're kerrazy!

"Well, that's my todger gone"

Spurs vs Everton

The very thought of lasagne is enough to bring out a cold sweat in a Spurs fan, but usually the players aren't affected.

They are this time: whether it's lasagne, return of the killer tomatoes or a relatively innocuous stomach bug, 18 – EIGHTEEN – of Spurs' staff and players have been hit by D&V (acronym used for censorship reasons in case any readers are eating).

You've finished eating now, right? Good: Vedran Corluka and Wilson Palacios are among those drowning in their own fluids.

If it's food poisoning again, Roman Pavlyuchenko should be a suspect. The Russian is desperate for his first league start this season, having now scored 12 goals in 13 cup games – while Peter Crouch has netted four times in 17 league starts (and once as a sub).

This blog is a big supporter of the human daddy longlegs, and points out he's not just there to score goals, but maybe it's time to give Pav a go over the Croucher. Just don't go near his lasagne.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone for drama, Everton's Steven Pienaar was arrested for drink-driving, most likely at speed but without any sense of direction.

What won't happen: Surely, surely Pav can't make it a third brace in a row.

What will happen: Away win sees Spurs concede fourth to Liverpool.

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