Football Aid 2012 – Play at your Field of Dreams!
With more than 10 years of experience behind us, Football Aid provides football fans from across the globe with the magical opportunity to grace the hallowed turf and play on their Field of Dreams at top stadiums across theUK, while at the same time raising vital funds for charity.
Our magical events allow supporters to Live The Dream in an authentic match day experience at a host of Premier League, Championship, Football League and SPL grounds. Players will gain exclusive access to the pitch and tunnel areas, pull on their own personalised shirt in the official changing rooms, walk down the tunnel to the sound of a cheering crowd and ultimately to step out on the hallowed turf and represent their club in a never to be forgotten 90 minutes of football.
The matches have also been supported by a host of football legends, with the likes of Denis Law (Football Aid Patron), Danny McGrain (Football Aid Vice Patron), Pat Nevin, Bryan Robson, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Neil Lennon, Ally McCoist, Graeme Le Saux, Ricky Villa, Gary McAllister, Denis Irwin, Ozzie Ardiles, Gary Mabbutt and many more all lending their valuable support in recent years, by playing alongside or managing the supporters in the hugely enjoyable matches.
Securing your position couldn’t be easier, just visit www.footballaid.com and choose your club, then you’ll have two ways to secure your Fixed Price position: Option 1: ‘Buy Now’ – Our quickest and most popular option, or Option 2: ‘Sponsored to Play’ – Pay a non-refundable £100 deposit to secure your position and then simply pay off the remaining balance anytime before 14th December.
So if you’re keen to secure your place on your Field of Dreams this season, why not visit www.footballaid.com today to make sure you’re part of the team! Alternatively if you’d like any additional information, you can call Football Aid on 0131 220 5999 or email email@example.com.
Football Aid celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2010 and have allowed over 12,225 football fans the chance to Live the Dream in more than 460 matches. They are a groundbreaking organisation which generates funds annually by hosting charity football matches at iconic stadiums all over theUK. The unique concept was the brainchild of businessman and Football Aid ChairmanCraig Paterson and funds raised from the event will benefit the work of a charitable project nominated by the club, as well as projects nominated by Football Aid’s parentcharity Field of Dreams.
Recently ‘Call Collymore’ on Talksport discussed the subject of women within the professional men’s game, such as fans, journalists, directors officials, commentators and pundits. This inspired the writing of this article. As a female season ticket holder for 10+ years I wanted to express my take on this very issue.
So let’s start at the beginning. Women attending games is not a new thing. I myself know ladies who were gracing the terraces in the 60s at various different clubs. More recently football has become increasingly popular in the female population, and have been mostly accepted into the football family in it’s varying roles. We have even seen two broadcasting veterans dismissed from their jobs for derogatory comments made about a female assistant referee, Sian Massey. This season she has been given a promotion, and is now in the select group of assistant referees, showing gender now has no standing as far as Premier League officiating is concerned.
A few men called up the radio station to tell the listeners that women had no place at the football as it is a time for men to get together and to be men. Granted, I wouldn’t recommend anyone who gets easily offended to go to the football. That is just the culture that has grown up with what has been a man’s game for many years. We ladies also have to remember though, that we shouldn’t really try and dictate what happens around us at games, as it is a culture that is not going to change due to the presence of a few females. We no longer have a major hooligan base in this country, so swearing and being drunk is about as worse as it can get.
I can safely say that I have spent 10 years as a home season ticket holder, and 3 years travelling around the country to every team in the Premier League as an away season ticket holder, and I have never had anyone comment on my presence there as a female. Nor have I ever felt uncomfortable and have even sat on my own on many occasions.
In my opinion the professional men’s game has well and truly accepted women into the fold. Jacqui Oakley is now a regular commentator on Match of the Day for the BBC. A range of females now host and co-host on sky sports news. We also now have female pundits such as Eleanor Oldroyd, who regularly does spots for the Times and Radio 5 Live.
For many a year now we had had the tradition of sitting down on a Saturday night and tuning in to BBC1 for Match of the Day. But in more recent years questions have been asked about how fairly and equally all 20 clubs are represented in the programme.
Previously I wrote a letter to the BBC-questioning why I had witnessed a game at a stadium earlier in the day, only to watch Match of the Day at half ten and to see footage that was totally unrepresentative of the game I had seen. The reply was a standard ‘copy and paste’ job stating that MOTD is put together as fairly and equally as possible to reflect the main talking points, which you can see Here. Didn’t really answer what I was asking though did it?
Every season nowadays we have a new opening montage sequence on Match of the Day featuring all 20 teams. You can’t even notice some teams on this year’s sequence. I decided to do a little analysis and can confirm that all 20 teams are represented, although for some it is a half a second strike or glance of a hat in team colours. You can see a graph of my analysis below.
As you can see, Manchester United and Liverpool have a lot of appearances in there. I realise they are the most successful teams in England, but is it fair to show them 9 times while Norwich settle for someone quickly walking by wearing a green and yellow hat? I think this is a reflection of the bias in the programme as a whole to be honest. Liverpool, United, Arsenal, Chelsea and now even City get an awful lot of highlights and analysis. The BBC argue to have the interests of the majority of the viewers at heart, but surely true football fans would like to see and hear more about the other 15 teams in the league.
We also have MOTD’s Sunday sister programme Match of the Day 2. This seems to have now become a weird satirical review of all of the Sunday fixtures, with Colin Murray trying to be funny rather than offering anything of substance. The pundits even look uncomfortable and appear to be cringing at Murray’s dire attempts at poor gags, as well as those stupid cartoons.
Sometimes the punditry couldn’t be more biased, with both Liverpool ex players Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen on the couch. They both appear to have a dislike for teams lower down the league, and an obvious affection for talking about Liverpool. Lawrenson does a weekly Premier League predictions piece on the BBC Football website, and most of the celebrities who challenge him manage to beat him.
Overall, Match of the Day has somehow turned into a show where the biggest names will always get the longest spots, with Match of the Day 2 becoming annoying and immature. Maybe it’s just me who believes this and no one else really cares. I’ve heard many fans call the radio and comment on feeling unrepresented on Match of the Day. I don’t think it’s going to change any time soon either. The top teams are getting stronger and stronger, although at times last season it appeared that the league was the closest it had been for years, with any team capable of beating anyone. The lower teams are becoming more and more insignificant, especially to the media.
Welcome to a review of the final game of this week’s round of Premier League fixtures – QPR v Newcastle that was played out at Loftus Road on Monday night.
Queens Park Rangers 0 – 0 Newcastle United
Both sides have experienced fairly decent starts, with QPR picking up 3 points so far in a win at Norwich, and Newcastle sitting 6th with 7 points at kick off after beating Sunderland and Fulham in recent weeks. Joey Barton lined up against his former club after earlier being named club captain, with the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jay Bothroyd leading the QPR front line. Newcastle named a usual 4-4-2 line up with Shola Ameobi and Leon Best up front.
The game started off at a great pace, with both teams trying to take hold of the game. QPR had the most chances of the opening exchanges; Wright-Phillips only one of the few names putting on an impressive display down the wing. Newcastle were close to taking an early lead through Leon Best when Paddy Kenny made a terrific save.
Joey Barton remained quite low key considering the circumstances, while QPR threatened with some nice pressing play throughout the game. A real feel-good factor was present at Loftus Road; the fans in good voice expressing their satisfaction of the new chairman’s recent actions. Newcastle had their moments, but always appeared to have less chance of scoring than QPR. As Wright-Phillips dragged Newcastle around, Adel Taarabt found space for his party tricks, which warmed the crowd and his team-mates to the point where centre half Danny Gabbidon could be found attempting a back-heel on the right wing before half-time with the game goalless.
During the second half QPR’s attacking intent dwindled and the game became more and more of an even battle. Both sides looked dangerous on the counter attack and both were going for the win. As the final minutes ticked by the match looked increasingly likely to end in a stale mate. For all of QPR’s exceptional talent on their books, no one was able to capitalise on any of the chances they had.
Alan Pardew said it all after the game, stating that Newcastle wouldn’t have deserved more than a point for their performance. QPR’s attacking play was very impressive, and at points it was hard to tell who the ‘established’ Premier League side were in the game. For a team who should be trying to get as many points on the board as soon as possible, I think QPR have missed out on a precious 2 points here.
Norwich City 0 – 1 West Brom
West Brom managed to get their first points on the board as they travelled to Carrow Road to take on Norwich. A mix up in the first few minutes between Ritchie De Laet and rookie keeper Declan Rudd set West Brom on their way, allowing Odemwingie to stick out a foot to poke the ball into the Norwich net.
West Brom are known for being quite weak defensively with a rather dire record for clean sheets. After going 1-0 up so early West Brom had to defend for a lot of the game, but Norwich never really seemed to test keeper Ben Foster, with many shots going wide or over the bar. Long and Odemwingie linked up to look quite dangerous upfront for West Brom, but never managing to capitalise on any chances.
Later, in the second half, a debatable penalty was awarded to West Brom after Morison appeared to make contact on Steven Reid and bring him down in the box. Odemwingie had the rather tame penalty saved well by Rudd. Another controversial incident happened in injury time when Gabriel Tamas floored James Vaughan by elbowing him in the face, which was missed by the referee Mark Halsey. Later in the game Norwich put together some good attacking play but still could not find the goal they so desperately needed.
Overall, possibly slightly unlucky for Norwich but the momentary lapse of concentration in the defence proved to be their downfall in this one. The Premier League is tough, and West Brom managed to get 3 points on the board.
Fulham 1 – 1 Blackburn
By kick off both of these sides found themselves propping up the Premier League, with Blackburn the only team on zero points after West Brom’s earlier win. Both teams have had quite miserable starts to the season, neither managing to pick up a win so far, and this trend continued as they played out a fairly event-less draw at Craven Cottage.
The game started rather slowly, with Fulham mostly in control, but with Rovers looking dangerous on the counter attack. In the 32nd minute Ruben Rochina for Blackburn found himself with enough space to launch a magnificent strike from 18 yards out after a cut back from Hoilett to put Rovers into the lead. Six minutes later Fulham equalised with a nice curling shot from Bobby Zamora.
Both sides made changes at half-time, with Martin Olsson coming on for Christopher Samba due to a back injury and Mousa Dembele replacing Ruiz after an ineffective debut. Both teams had a couple of chances during the second half, with Hoilett coming close to getting Fulham’s second in the 53rd minute, and Bobby Zamora being denied from close range.
During stoppage time Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer clashed heads with Hoilett, resulting in the Blackburn Midfielder being stretchered off with a neck brace. After the game Steve Kean said that Hoilett had received some stitches to the side of the head and bruising to the eye as well as some concussion from the collision, but was going to be OK.
Overall, both teams are still searching for their first win of the new campaign, and now find themselves in the relegation zone. It’s early days, but if results don’t start picking up for these two the fans could start to become restless.
Join us tomorrow night for our final match review of the latest round of Premier League fixtures, QPR v Newcastle, KO 8pm!
Arsenal 1 – 0 Swansea City
Brendan Rodgers was absent from the Swansea dug out for this one, as he was called away late on Friday as his father had sadly passed away. Firstly we would like to offer our condolences to him and his family.
Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker made their Arsenal debuts as Swansea lined up for more of their so far impressive organised, passing play. Arteta and Van Persie made some very good link up play throughout the game, but Arsenal could not manage to break through and score until the 40th minute when Arsenal were gifted the opening goal. The so far impressive Swansea keeper Vorm made an absolute howler; flinging the ball against the back of his own player Angel Rangel straight into the path of Andre Arshavin to make it 1-0.
In the second half both teams had some good chances, with Swansea enjoying a lot of possession in front of the Emirates crowd. Arsenal keeper Szczesny had to make a couple of fine saves later on in the game in what was at times an edgy end to end affair, but Swansea still could not find their first Premier League goal of the campaign. Swansea deserved a point for their efforts in this one, and may have got just that if keeper Mikel Vorm hadn’t had a momentary lapse of concentration. Anyone expecting a backlash from a humiliated Arsenal would have been left fairly disappointed.
By Random Football Roundup
Everton 2 – 2 Aston Villa
Around 1500 Everton fans turned up outside Goodison Park before the game to protest about the running on the club and it’s lack of investment into the squad. All of their banners and flags seemed to be supporting David Moyes and the football club as a whole, but were just asking questions of the board and chairman Bill Kenwright as to how they have ended up in their poor financial situation.
That atmosphere did not carry into the ground as Everton dominated the early stages of a fairly eventful fixture. They had shouts for an early penalty as Cahill was brought down in the box by Richard Dunne that was waved away by referee Michael Oliver. Everton then went ahead in the 19th minute when Leon Osman slotted past Shay Given after a neat pass from Cahill. Jack Rodwell went close to claiming a second for Everton when a belting shot was deflected just wide of the post. Tim Howard’s absolutely awful shirt may have been the cause for Villa being unable to find an equaliser until the 63rd minute, when Stiliyan Petrov smashed the ball around Howard from 30 yards out.
Everton were awarded a penalty a few minutes later when Delph jumped all over Jagielka, which Leighton Baines happily slotted home. Everton hearts were well and truly broken, though, in the 83rd minute when some good Villa play led to Gabby Agbonlahor scoring his 4th goal of the campaign. Everton had a late chance to go ahead yet again late in the game, but could not manage to capitalise. Overall, an action packed game with a pretty fair outcome.
By Random Football Roundup
Manchester City 3 – 0 Wigan Athletic
Manchester City have been in the news this week for all of the wrong reasons; Chief Executive Gary Cook having resigned for allegedly sending emails to Nedum Onouha’s cancer suffering mother. Saturday though saw them take on a Wigan side who were looking to build on a convincing win against QPR last time out.
City went ahead after 13 minutes after some good play between Tevez, Silva and Aguero, after a couple of half chances had gone amiss for both teams. Carlos Tevez did himself no favours to his relationship with the City faithful shortly later in the game when his extremely tame penalty kick was easily saved by Ali Al Habsi. Wigan continued to have their moments during the game. Hugo Rodallega tested Joe Hart after a nice through ball from Victor Moses, but the quality of the likes of Sergio Aguero and David Silva eventually shone through for City.
In the 63rd minute City’s new star hitman Sergio Aguero was at it again, tapping the ball past Al Habsi after a simple pass from David Silva from just outside the box. Six minutes later David Silva pushed through through the Wigan midfield and slotted a through ball once again to Aguero, who happily knocked in his third of the game.
Wigan had a few chances against what is a quality City side. The play between Aguero, Silva and now Nasri will be a problem to many a team during this campaign, I’m sure. With Manchester United continuing to bang in the goals, City look to be hot on their heels and out to show that they are now real title contenders.
By Random Football Roundup
Stoke City 1 – 2 Liverpool
Liverpool travelled to the Britannia Stadium to try and maintain their unbeaten start to their Premier League campaign. Early in the game they probably should have had a penalty when the ball hit Rory Delap’s outstretched hand at the edge of the box, but moments later Stoke were awarded what looked like a harsh penalty for Carragher’s challenge on Jon Walters. Carragher was holding him around the waist, but it still looked harsh. Walters stepped up to smash the penalty home to put Stoke 1-0 up on 21 minutes.
Liverpool had chances in the first half to equalise through the creative play of Luis Suarez, but the Stoke defence and keeper Asmir Begovic did very well to keep them at bay. This continued into the second half as a barrage of chances came Liverpool’s way to new boys Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson, neither of which was able to capitalise.
In the final minutes Liverpool were desperately appealing for a penalty for a handball against Matthew Upson, but to no avail from referee Mark Clatterburg. Stoke showed a lot of resilience throughout the game and deserved their narrow win. They seem to have come a fair way since the long-ball side that gained promotion in 2008.
By Random Football Roundup
Sunderland 1 – 2 Chelsea
Fernando Torres was dropped to the substitute’s bench for yesterdays match at the Stadium of Light, as Daniel Sturridge added to John Terry’s opener with a sublime strike which fully vindicated Andre Villas-Boas’s decision to leave the £50 million striker out.
Torres has now only scored one goal in 22 appearances, and if there’s any man who can sympathise with him at the moment in terms of problems, its Steve Bruce. Just 24 hours after the Sunderland managed empathised that his star striker would be stopping at the club, Asamoah Gyan departed on a season long loan to Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates. You could see the signs of his frustration in his pre-match interview, where Bruce gave a blunt summary upon the striker’s sudden departure. “For a player to leave the Premier League to go over there? No disrespect to the UAE, but I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions about his motives”. He added, “I can’t see him coming back.”
90 minutes later, and Sunderland’s troubles sank to new depths following a one sided encounter which ensured Chelsea’s seventh consecutive victory at the Stadium of Light. John Terry opened the scoring following a brilliant cross from Daniel Sturridge who picked out his captain unmarked in the opposition’s ares. Two attempts at the cherry, and Terry ensured Chelsea took the lead and control over the course
of the game. Anelka provided the pass to Sturridge 5 minutes into the second half for him to tuck away a comfortable victory. The Black Cats have now lost eight of their last nine games at home, and new signing Nicholas Bentdner failed to make any real impact on his debut. Ji Dong-Won clinched a consolation goal in stoppage time but it was too little, too late from a Sunderland side which on this evidence, will have a long hard winter ahead of them.
Wolves 0 – 2 Tottenham
Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed a goal on his Tottenham debut and Jermaine Defoe followed up with a second to ensure Tottenham got the win in a truly breathless encounter at The Molineux. Spurs got there first three points of the new season, lifting them off the bottam of the league following two defeats at the hands of both Manchester clubs. But it was another of Spurs acquirements this summer that Harry Redknapp singled out for praise after a well fought match. Speaking in his post match interview, he described Scott Parker as an “Old school footballer every club used to have, he’s a Stevie Gerrard or John Terry type, a leader – they are very rare now, and we needed that.”
Redknapp’s comments were only too true, and these three points are sure to put some much needed confidence into what is looking more like the European contender it did last year. Parker added the aggression, creativity and leadership they have so badly lacked in their start to the new campaign, and early signs show he will be well worth the money Harry spent on him.
Wolves looked equally dangerous throughout an entertaining match that offered no end of excitement and plenty of chances for both teams. “Losing to Spurs, a Champions League team of last season, is no disgrace, and for the most part I was happy with how we performed,” said the Wolves manager, Mick McCarthy. They were unlucky not to come away with something from the match, but missed opportunities proved to be costly in the end, and Mick McCarthy’s men just couldnt come up with a goal. The structure and realiabilty McCarthy has implemented this season, with brilliant signings such as Roger Johnson, Wolves proved every bit they are a more solid and organised outfit since last season and any club can expect a tough game against them.
Emmanuel Adebayor became more of a factor throughout the match for Tottenham, Scott Parker helped on a pass from Nico Kranjcar allowing Adebayor to calmly take the ball around Wayne Hennessey before turning into an empty net on 67 minutes. Kranjcar was again the provider of a simple pass to Jermaine Defoe and striker took his chance to turn and shoot beyond the Welsh shot stopper on 80 minutes.
Overall, Wolves came back to reality after their promising start to the season as Spurs just had too much quality and experience in them to grind out the win.
Bolton 0 – 5 Manchester United
Wayne Rooney contributed his second consecutive hat-trick allowing Manchester United to maintain their 100% start to the new season. A matter of just 20 motorway miles separate these two clubs, but on the day Bolton’s clear lack of resources made them seem a world apart from their neighbouring Champions. Wayne Rooney continues to play in the form of his life, scoring a second consecutive hat-trick, and netting eight goals in his last four games. The enjoyment from playing alongside strike partner Javier Hernandez, who also bagged two goals on the afternoon, was there for all to see and the pair were simply outstanding in what turned out to be yet another domination from Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.
United’s team sheet for Saturday was always going to be interesting, given the launch of their Champions League campaign in four days time. However, United showed their strength and depth by fielding a side which was arguably better than the team that outclassed and wolloped Arsenal 8-2, just 13 days ago. Rio Ferdinand returned at centre-back whilst Phil Jones replaced Chris Smalling at right-back, which proved to be of great benefit to a solid back-line performance throughout.
Chants of “Are you Arsenal in disguise?” came from the visiting supporters, as Owen Coyle summed up what was an unimpressive performance from the home side. “United were ruthless and clinical,” he said. “They certainly took their chances well, but as good as they were we shot ourselves in the foot. We can’t allow easy crosses to come into our box like that, and Jones was allowed to run through far too easily.”
Ferguson complained after the match about a tough challenge by Kevin Davies which has put Cleverley out of contention United’s upcoming Champions League match. “It was a bad tackle, we think he has a broken bone in his foot,” he said. “This is a difficult start to the season, we’re playing all the big teams. Chelsea next Sunday. It’s been a hectic start, and if we come through this next week in the same position we’ll have done well.”
To sum up the match, it can be said that the final score line flattered Bolton rather than United. Every time the home team attacked, they left themselves hopelessly open to the counter attack and the current leaders look unstoppable in their pursuit so far for their 20th league title.
Welcome back to domestic football after the International break. The last round of Premier League games saw a fairly average Saturday with few goals followed by an unexpected Sunday goal-fest! Will Arsenal be able to make amends from Old Trafford? Will Swansea, Norwich and QPR continue to hold their own in the Premier League? Join us as we have a look at each and every game of the Premier League games of the weekend.
Arsenal V Swansea – Saturday @ 3pm
I bet Arsene Wenger had mixed emotions about the timing of the latest round of Internationals. On one hand it gave their injured players a chance to recover, but on the other I’m sure they wanted to get back onto the pitch as soon as possible to put right what happened at Old Trafford. Arsenal’s injury list is still pretty dire-looking, including names such as Varmaelen and Jack Wilshere being out for the long term.
Swansea are doing fairly well for a newly promoted team; picking up 2 points in 3 games. Under Brendan Rodgers they are a very lively, disciplined team. That will bode them well through the course of the season. They have a lot of fight and will give it their all at the Emirates for their travelling Welsh support.
I think Arsenal will be determined to get 3 points out of this one and show the fans that they still are capable of beating the teams in the lower end of the Premier League spectrum. Swansea will put up a good fight but I can see an Arsenal 2-0 win.
Everton v Aston Villa – Saturday @ 3pm
Here is a match between two teams who have both been striving and building to try and reach the higher prizes of the Premier League in recent years. You could also argue both have become selling clubs, with some of their players moving on to places where they have higher wages and are more likely to win silverware. David Moyes must be as frustrated as ever in the Everton hot seat after Mikel Arteta’s £10 Million deadline day move to Arsenal. This summer Alex McLeish has also lost Ashley Young and Stuart Downing, though he has had the major coup of getting Shay Given in goal.
Villa are still unbeaten having played some of the teams that will be around them come later in the season. Everton have won one and lost one so far; the loss to QPR possibly showing a bit of the instability of the financial situation there having it’s effect on the team. Before the match the Everton fans are planning a peaceful protest march outside of Goodison against the situation that has leaded to the lack of investment in the team. I think Villa might nick this 1-0.
Manchester City v Wigan – Saturday @ 3pm
Their last Premier League outing saw Manchester City smash Spurs 5-1 at White Hart Lane, taking them to 3 wins in 3 at the top of the league along with United. We have finally started to see all of these quality players at Mancini’s disposal actually coming together to make an extremely good team. Wigan have picked up 5 points in their first 3 league games, albeit against all 3 of the promoted sides.
I think City will be looking to build on their fantastic start by securing another 3 points against a Wigan side that could get a bit shaky against the quality of City’s players. The new additions of Nasri and Aguero will probably prove deadly once again. I’ll go for an ambitious 4-0 City win.
Stoke v Liverpool – Saturday @ 3pm
Stoke and Liverpool are two teams who look to have really improved this year. Liverpool, rejuvenated by the return of Dalglish last season, have picked up 7 points in 3 games. Stoke have added a lot of attacking flair this summer, and have picked up 5 points in 3 so far in their Premier League campaign, beating West Brom 1-0 on their last Premier League outing.
They way Stoke play makes them very difficult to play against, so this could be a close one. If Peter Crouch plays their balls into the box could prove a real handful. Liverpool are not short of goals their self though. New boys Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam both scored their first goals for the club last time out against Bolton. I am going to go for a 1-1 draw with this one.
Sunderland v Chelsea – Saturday @ 3pm
Andre Villa Boas’ has an unbeaten start to his Chelsea campaign this season but he is promised a severe test at the Stadium of Light for his 4th game in charge. Sunderland have a habit of bringing their Sunday best out against the big dogs of the Premier League, beating Manchester City and Arsenal on home turf last season and grinding out a draw with Manchester United. New signing Nicolas Bendtner will give a sure lift to the home side, following his loan move from Arsenal, but they look to be without Asamoah Gyan due to a hamstring injury in midweek. A harsh blow to a team only managing a single goal in four games so far this season.
Chelsea lost at Stamford Bridge 3-0 to Steve Bruce’s team last season, but Chelsea got their revenge in the return match with a tidy 4-2 win at the Stadium of Light in February. Petr Cech and David Luiz look to be for Saturday giving Chelsea a boost defensively, while Daniel Sturridge is also in contention after serving his 3 match ban. Didier Drogba may well be rested today to recover from his recent head injury. Fernando Torres is still on his search for the back of the net, not scoring since April, and yet again the question is asked, ‘When will he begin the goal rout a £50 million pound signing should warrant?’
However, on the last six occasions where these two teams have meet, both teams have produced 32 goals, an average of 5 per match, so don’t be surprised if this is a goal-happy game! I’m going for Chelsea this time, 3-1.
Wolves v Tottenham – Saturday @ 3pm
Early days, but Tottenham are currently sat rock bottom of the Premier League. Their start to the campaign, well, let’s be honest hasn’t been magnificent and they were simply outclassed by both Manchester clubs in the space of a week. Harry Redknapp’s team last season gave European giants such as AC Milan, Internazionale, and Real Madrid a true test and proved they have the minerals to compete for the most sought after prize in football. There new arrivals this season include Emmanuel Adebayor and Scott Parker and both look set to start at the Molineux and I think both should prove to be class signings and can only boost their ambition to achieve a top four finish. Rafeal Van der Vaart looks set to miss out due to a hamstring injured sustained last week.
Wolves are unbeaten in 3 so far this season, and they certainly look to be a much more solid and organized outfit for their 3rd Premier League campaign. The summer signing of Roger Johnson looks to be a masterstroke from Mick McCarthy as they have kept 2 clean sheets and conceded just one goal so far. The likes of Kevin Doyle, Matt Jarvis, Steven Fletcher will all be looking to exploit Spurs’s defensive frailties. Wolves had seven players on International duty this week and all have come back with no injuries so they are expected to name an unnamed starting eleven for Saturday.
Wolves have always proved a tricky test for Tottenham. In their last four meetings, Spurs have only claimed one win so be sure to hedge your bets on this one! I reckon it’ll be close one but I can see Spurs nicking it 2-1.
Bolton v Manchester United – Saturday @ 5:30pm
The fixture list can always be a hindrance to any clubs start to a season, and Owen Coyle has been presented with a less than friendly one. Two defeats have been incurred already from Manchester City and Liverpool, but a 4-0 win at QPR must have reinstated any confidence lost from those prior games. Manchester United are Bolton’s next hurdle at the Reebok on Saturday, straight from their eight-goal mauling of Arsenal. Sonehow, I can’t imagine any United players are lacking in any confidence at this moment in time! That said, Sir Alex Ferguson may well rest the odd player in anticipation of next week’s Champions League trip to Benfica, allowing Mexican wonder kid Javier Hernandez his first start of the season following his pre-season injury from concussion.
Bolton’s will more than likely introduce their trio of new signings David N’Gog, Gaël Kakuta and Dedryck Boyata so this could be an interesting game given the mixture of fresh faces from both teams. United are enjoying their best start to a league season for five years, while Bolton are being tipped to complete for a European place this season. Owen Coyle has done a fantastic job so far and if anyone can help them to achieve such aspirations, he will be the man. Tough one to call but I think it’ll be a 2-2 draw.
Norwich v West Bromwich Albion – Sunday @ 1:30pm
This match really has the feel of a must-win game for both teams. West Brom have accumulated no points so far this season, but all 3 performances have been very promising for them. In a tough first two games against Chelsea and Manchester United, they acquitted themselves well and were unlucky not to come away with a point against Stoke in their most recent game. Shane Long has had an immediate effect at The Hawthorns and 5th top scorer last season, Peter Odemwingie, looks to be fit for his first start of the season.
Norwich have been really impressive in their opening campaign to the Premier League. They took on Chelsea last week and although they lost 3-1, there were stages of the game where they really pushed Chelsea and deserved to take something away from the game. Despite losing, there was a lot they could take away from that performance against one of Premier League’s top 4 teams. They were unlucky to concede the penalty decisions, but this is something Paul Lambert’s newly promoted squad will need to expect from the Premier League. Grant Holt has now scored in every English League and I can see him doing well for Norwich and could well be an essential part of their season.
Roy Hodgson will expect nothing less than 3 points from this game, but likewise, I’m sure Norwich pointed this fixture out at the start of the season as one they can take points from. I think West Brom will walk away with 3 points in this one, 2-0 to get them off the mark.
Fulham v Blackburn – Sunday @ 4:00pm
These two teams have scored a rather measly three goals between them so far this season. Nothing to shout about, but Fulham will be hoping to add to that following the arrival of £10.6m striker Bryan Ruiz. Blackburn have made some superb deadline day signings of their own in the with Scott Dann and Yakubu coming in to bolster the defence. Simon Vukcevic and Jordan Slew also look set to make debuts for Steve Keans team whilst Martin Jol is without Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn both due to hamstring injuries.
Disappointing starts to the season for both teams will mean the pressure is on for both to bring a performance. However I think this is likely to be a more scrappy affair that Fulham should just edge. 1-0 home win.
QPR v Newcastle – Monday @ 8pm
This should be a good one, as Joey Barton lines up to face the team that let him go on a free. He will be the obvious one to look out for in this game. With QPR’s newly found riches they are turning into a mini Man City. Saying that though, the other promoted teams are only 1 point behind them after the opening 3 games. Their squad sheet suggests they should be an obvious one of the 3 promoted teams to stay in the league.
Newcastle, however, are currently experiencing their best start to the season since 1995/96, sitting in 6th place with 7 points. In recent weeks Ryan Taylor and Leon Best have popped up to supply the goals. There seems to be a confident mentality around St. James’s Park at the moment, even though there have been grumblings coming from Alan Pardew about lack of investment in a striker. I must say I have no idea how this one will go, but I’ll take an educated guess at 2-2.