Rough, and Ready?
It’s been a rough week for Brendan Rodgers, and things aren’t about to get any easier. Following Liverpool’s inept display at Newcastle United last weekend, not to mention his stressful midweek trip to the Bernabau, the last thing Rodgers needs is a visit from table-topping Chelsea.
But a visit from Jose Mourinho’s men they have and, after the Blues effectively put an end to Liverpool’s title hopes in the corresponding fixture late last season, in no small part due to that slip by Steven Gerrard, it’ll be a game Liverpool desperately want to win.
The18 desperately wanted a puppy for its fifth birthday, but it didn’t happen. No matter how many players Rodgers rested against Real, we’ll be surprised if Chelsea’s unbeaten run of four Premier League games against the Reds is broken on Saturday. In Fabregas and Costa they have more than enough firepower to overcome Liverpool’s laboured, error-prone defence, while we see little from the Reds’ front line to trouble John Terry and Gary Cahill (Raheem Sterling being the possible exception).
Champions Elect (We’re 66.66% Sure About This)
Incidentally, only three teams have ever accumulated more points than Chelsea after 10 games of a Premier League season. Two of the three went on to claim the title, while the third (Newcastle United in 1995-6) spectacularly threw away a 12-point lead, culminating in this memorable post-match rant from then-manager Kevin Keegan.
Shiny Happy People
We’ve pointed out the dichotomy surrounding Manchester United this season already: despite having comfortably made their worst start to a Premier League season, an air of positivity and happiness seems to emanate from Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal must be eternally grateful to David Moyes for the crushed spirits he left in his wake.
But happy-clappy, touchy-feely sunshine-smiles-all-round doesn’t win you the Premier League: United need to start turning their promise into points, beginning with the visit of Crystal Palace this Saturday.
On past performances, this fixture would be inked in as a sure-fire three points for the Red Devils: they’ve beaten Palace in 10 of their last 12 league meetings, drawing the other two. But United will likely start the game with a back line that’s either as makeshift as a shanty town or with an average age that’s barely old enough to vote. Or both.
With the most expensive forward line in Premier League history United should still have enough to out-gun Neil Warnock’s Londoners, but they continue to resemble a Lamborghini Aventador towing a muck-spreader.
Race to the Bottom
Burnley’s trip to Hull City this weekend isn’t one we recommend you tune in for: four of the last five league meetings between the pair have produced 1-0 score-lines.
But, despite being rooted to the bottom of the table, Burnley still have some targets to gun for. In 2007-08, Derby County set the record for the lowest points tally ever accumulated in a Premier League season, with a positively subterranean 11 points from 38 matches. As it stands, Sean Dyche’s men are on course to accumulate 15 whole points based on current form: they only need to lower their sights a smidgen to be record-breakers.
With City unconvincing last weekend against 10-man United, and losing 2-1 at home to CSKA Moscow in their midweek Champions League clash, QPR must ever-so-slightly fancy their chances as they welcome the reigning champions to Loftus Road. While Harry Redknapp’s team has lost four of their last five meetings with City, the blue half of Manchester looks considerably less assured without David Silva dictating their play; the Spaniard is unlikely to start this weekend.
One man who may be a little dizzy on Sunday is QPR's Richard Dunne. As we highlighted in the Week 8 EPL review, Dunne has scored a record 10 Premier League own goals during his career. Six of those strikes came while playing for Manchester City.
He won’t know if he’s coming or going.
The Book of Keane
At the start of October, prior to the launch of Aston Villa Assistant Manager Roy Keane’s much publicised second autobiography, Villa were sixth in the league, having lost only once in their first six fixtures.
Since the launch of Keane’s book, Villa have lost all four of their EPL fixtures, scored just once and slid to 16th in the league, a solitary point above the relegation zone.
Has all the promo work Keane’s been doing distracted him from his football duties? Could Keane’s book be cursed, with God / Allah / Buddha / The Illuminati (delete as you deem appropriate) deciding to mete out some karma-style punishment for all the terrible things Roy revealed in his 300-page tell-all? Or is this just one giant coincidence?
On the off-chance that the great man (Keane, not God) is reading, we’ll go with the latter.
The Late Late Show
Time is precious, everyone knows that. So here’s an easy-to-follow time efficiency strategy for anyone considering how to squeeze watching Swansea vs. Arsenal into their busy schedules this Sunday: skip the first 80 minutes.
In the last six meetings between The Swans and The Gunners, 56% of the goals (9 out of 16) have been scored in the last 10 minutes.
Don’t take it out on us if it’s 5-4 at half time: blame statistics.