Weekender: Ned Flanders, Joey Barton and Graham Norton
1. Expect Hansen's head to shake about Swansea vs Wigan
Pre-match attention will be on Roberto "Bob Martin" Martinez as he makes his first return to Swansea, but focus will soon switch to the strikers. The 19 games between these two sides have featured 60 goals Ã¢ÂÂ an average somewhere north of three per game. Five of those fixtures have featured five or more goals; only one has been goalless, and only two have been draws. The 1990/91 season was particularly splendid: Swansea arrived at Springfield Park in late December bearing the unseasonal gift of a 4-2 defeat, a present returned with interest just after Easter when Latics turned up at the Vetch and battered the Jacks 6-1.
2. What's Spanish for "Hidely-ho, neighbourinos"?
Whether or not it kicks off on schedule tomorrow Ã¢ÂÂ the players' union may strike over a lack of payment at some clubs Ã¢ÂÂ the 2011/12 Primera Liga season will see 34 derbies thanks to promoted sides renewing rivalries. With Granada and Real Betis joining Sevilla and Malaga, there will be 12 all-Andalucian affairs; there'll also be a dozen capital clashes now Rayo Vallecano have joined Real, Atletico and Getafe. Throw in the Valenciana trio (Valencia, Levante and Villarreal), Barcelona-Espanyol and the Basque clash between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao and you have yourselves plenty of local pride to play for.
La Liga Loca: The Great Season Preview
3. Saints go marching on
Championship-topping Southampton have started where they left off from last season Ã¢ÂÂ winning games. The Saints are currently on a run of nine league wins in a row and looking for number 10 against Millwall on Saturday. ItÃ¢ÂÂs their longest-ever run of consecutive wins, but they've a way to go before they'll match the club record unbeaten run: from September to December 1921 the team went 19 games without loss. To top that, the current side will have to avoid defeat until after the October 29 game against Middlesbrough.
4. Football: Facebook likes this
Tonight, football breaks a new barrier with the first game to be broadcast on Facebook. The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round tie between Ascot United and Wembley FC will be streamed live to a potential audience of 700 million. It's not the first online live match broadcast: in 2009 the collapse of Setanta meant England's World Cup qualifier in Ukraine was streamed online, while this July's Copa America was shown on YouTube. Coming up next: Joey Barton to start broadcasting games via Twitter...
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5. Stats Zone: your own portable facts machine
Ever needed proof of a tactical hunch? Whether you're in the stands or the pub, try Stats Zone. Brought to you by FFT and powered by data from Opta, Stats Zone brings you a mass of information on Premier League games, as they happen, all presented in handy pitch-diagram form for you to post online or simply wave in your mate's face. Whether you're tracking every pass, shot, tackle, foul and assist, comparing players and teams, analysing how matches change over time or simply maximising your fantasy league selections, give it a whirl. It might just prove what you already know: you're smarter than they think.
Stats Zone Info, screenshots and instructions
And it's back. The world's most analysed league kicked back off in generally underwhelming fashion, with due respect to the 4-0 wins chalked up by Bolton at QPR and a Sergio Aguero-inspired Man City at home to Swansea. Chelsea drew a blank at Stoke, while down the road Manchester United won 2-1 at West Brom despite only having one shot on target.
Arsenal also endured a goalless grizzle at Newcastle, whose recalled social media tsar Joey Barton received a stamp from Alex Song and a slap from Gervinho. Both are now banned for three games and the Gunners will also have to make do without Cesc Fabregas, who finally left for Barcelona; with Samir Nasri seemingly set on switching from the Emirates Stadium to Man City's Etihad Stadium, some Gooners have taken to vocally demanding incoming transfers. Fabregas, meanwhile, made his debut in the Super Cup win over Real Madrid, whose boss Jose Mourinho congratulated the hosts by apparently sticking his fingers in a BarÃÂ§a coach's eye.
Back in Blighty, the first Football League midweekers started to shake the divisions down a little. Still roaring along with three wins from three are Southampton, Brighton and Derby (in Division Two), Charlton and Sheffield United (Division Three) and Rotherham (Division Four), while Coventry and Doncaster, Leyton Orient, and Crewe and Hereford still seek their first point.
In the financial pages, Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes bought control of QPR, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said the bank won't lend the Toffees any more money for transfers, and the Glazers seem set to sell a slice of Manchester United on the Singapore stock exhange to help clear debts. You'd think there was a recession on.
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For some people, there's no such thing as a home fixture
While Cesc Fabregas Ã¢ÂÂ a World Cup winner in South Africa last summer Ã¢ÂÂ ponders how many swimming pools his new palatial Catalan home should have, the stars of the lesser heralded World Cup kicking off in France this weekend will have rather more substantial concerns.
The ninth annual Homeless World Cup will gets underway this weekend in Paris, with 512 players from 64 countries competing in what perhaps sounds the most unlikely of international tournaments. The competition is the brainchild of Big Issue co-founder Mel Young-Schweb and has grown year-on-year since 2003's 18-sided inaugural tournament.
"The winning clout of the Homeless World Cup is that takes disadvantaged people from streets across the globe, and through the universal language of football, brings them together, empowers them to be fit and motivated, re-builds pride and inner strength, and so changes lives," explains Big Issue co-founder John Bird.
While the HWC's tarty Blatter-endorsed sister enables players from lesser leagues to put themselves in the proverbial shop window in the hope of catching the eye of a cash-rich European club, the stars of the homeless version have far more humble aims. It's said that more than 70% of players in each tournament are helped to turn their lives around Ã¢ÂÂ overcoming addictions, securing jobs, seeking education, fixing damaged relationships and, of course, finding a home.
But with over one billion homeless people across the globe, that's only really scratching the surface. It's certainly something to think about while the transfer window approaches a screaming climax involving tens of millions of pounds spent on players awarded contracts worth over ÃÂ£100,000 a week.
Ã¢ÂÂ James Maw, FourFourTwo online features editor
We're busily transferring 15 years of FFT interviews to our online archive. Among the 400 we've uploaded so far:
"I did a baking diploma. I liked making pretzels"
Ã¢ÂÂ One on One, Aug 2004: Jurgen Klinsmann
"I would pay to watch Steven Gerrard"
Ã¢ÂÂ Web Exclusive, Oct 2009: Cesc Fabregas
"Me and Robbie Keane watch Graham Norton, cuddle up and fall asleep"
Ã¢ÂÂ My Secret Vice, Jul 2001: Rio Ferdinand