My heart goes out to supporters of Liverpool FC. The club have been rocked by Champions League failure, the validity of their Merseyside derby victory has been questioned, and they have to travel to Liverpool at least once a fortnight.
Steven Gerrard probably received the brunt of the criticism after the controversial derby day win. I have an enormous amount of sympathy for the talismanic captain; it can’t be easy to play football, roll over and referee all at the same time.
The persecution of Dirk Kuyt is equally as perplexing. The flying Dutchman was pilloried for an alleged dangerous tackle, but who wouldn’t jump in the air if they caught an unexpected glimpse of Phil Neville?
Jamie Redknapp has also been slaughtered for a perceived bias in his punditry. The ex-Red claimed that Jamie Carragher’s body-slam of Joleon Lescott did not merit a penalty, and amusingly maintained his stance while watching replays of the assault. Even Comical Ali would have thrown his hands up on that one.
I hope Jamie will be in the studio for Sunday’s big Liverpool v Arsenal match, as I’m trying to land a touch on potential Redknapp quotes. ‘Stevie didn’t dive, he fell over,’ ‘This rotation policy is a masterstroke,’ ‘Sure, Jamie kicked him three times, but they were accidental’ and ‘Rafa’s beard does not make him look camper than a bowl of strawberries’ are all confident selections.
I’ll probably have to settle for a bet on Arsenal to win the match. The Gunners are flying high in the Premiership and they scored a magnificent seven in midweek. I’m going to dive on the 21/10 like i’ve just received the merest of nudges outside of a penalty area.
Fulham have to be opposed at the Stadium of Light. Apparently, millions of Chinese people have been killed, and people are pointing the finger at Chairman Mo. Sunderland look a great bet at 11/10 to take advantage of a club in crisis.
Dave Whelan remains a genuine character. He’s quick to condemn foreign managers, third-party player ownership and the loan system, yet his views on price-fixing in the retail industry are kept remarkably close to his chest. The 23/20 for a Birmingham win over Wigan is vastly over inflated.
I’ve got a lot of time for Sven Goran Eriksson, probably because he’s pulled more darlings than the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s wife. The 3/1 for Manchester City leaving Chelsea with a draw ticks a multitude of boxes.
Joey Barton’s return to first team action will take his mind off the impending court case. There’s a real chance that Joey may end up doing a little stretch, and his cellmate will definitely be doing a little bird. You should be locked up if you miss out on the 13/8 for a Newcastle win at Reading.
The wife is a massive fan of MC Hammer: she sings ‘you can’t touch this’ every night. Everybody’s a winner. You don’t have to be drunk to partake in the 4/1 for a West Ham win over Pompey.
Bolton have reportedly made Gary Megson and Graeme Souness their top two targets in their search for a new manager. I’m guessing that Phil Gartside is in possession of a barrel with extensive scrape damage. The Villa are unbeaten in four at the Reebok, they’re practically unmissable at 19/10 against a Bolton side tottering on the verge of self destruction.
Tottenham are also in a spot of bother. Jermain Defoe can’t make the bench and Berbatov refuses to leave it. Darren Bent is about as potent as a half a shandy and they have more holes in their defence than OJ. Recent history suggests that Blackburn will hold Tottenham to a draw at 23/10; I absolutely refuse to argue.
Middlesbrough have been rocked by injury news ahead of their trip to Old Trafford: Mido is definitely fit. Bookies have opened the spread on Ronaldo’s dive to earn the penalty at 65—68 minutes, and that’s probably a sell. United are the weekend banker at 1/5.
Keith Hackett had to apologise to Rafa Benitez earlier in the season after a poor refereeing performance: I wouldn’t like to think about what he now owes David Moyes. Well certainly not while other people are in the office. Everton are only facing 11 men against Derby this week, they’ll hack up at 13/10.
The only real positive to emerge from the Merseyside derby was the revelation that Phil Neville was quite good with his hands. I’m guessing that’s born of necessity. Newcastle, Everton and Arsenal are the standout weekend picks, they form a 17/1 treble that even Phil can get on.
Predict The Future:
You can make your own predictions by copy-pasting the list of fixtures below and entering your predictions in the comments section after the article:
Birmingham City vs Wigan Athletic
Chelsea vs Manchester City
Manchester United vs Middlesbrough
Reading vs Newcastle United
Sunderland vs Fulham
Portsmouth vs West Ham United
Bolton Wanderers vs Aston Villa
Derby County vs Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs Blackburn Rovers
Liverpool vs Arsenal
Go ahead, let us know your predictions for this weekend.