Friday, April 03, 2020
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As we stand on the cusp of another weekend of Premier League action, a glance over the precipice reveals some pretty bland fare in store. A couple of fixtures manage to raise an eye-brow or two, but the fact that Setanta is showing the pick of the bunch tells its own story.  

 

Setanta’s coup d’etat is the visit of Manchester United to White Heart Lane; in particular the return of the lacksidasical son, Dimitar Berbatov. Unfortunately for pent up Tottenham fans and Setanta’s producers, it looks as though the stroppy Bulgarian will miss the game with a hamstring strain. What with a strain being the result of strenuous activity and all, you do have to wonder quite how the GBP30m-man - so reluctant to bust a proverbial gut - managed to pick up the injury. 

 

Across town, in a more decadent district of London, another former idol will be making a return as Gianfranco Zola pitches his size 5s back up at Stamford Bridge. The diminutive Italian is sure to be welcomed with open arms; not only in gratitude for his services as a player, but also for bringing with him a West Ham side sure to do their utmost to help get Chelsea’s home record back on track. 

 

A win for Chelsea will take them top unless Liverpool can beat Hull, who have lost only once away from the KC Stadium this season. With Robbie Keane currently of such a profligate disposition, Liverpool have been unable to break down such stubborn defensive units as West Ham and Fulham in their last two Premiership games at Anfield. A goal-glut is seemingly unlikely.  

 

Arsenal, meanwhile, travel to the Riverside for Saturday’s early kick-off - a game that looks eminently lose-able for Arsene Wenger’s men. Much has been said about their inconsistency; not enough has been said about the fact that they don’t have very many good players. “Oooh, they’re so young!” coo the admirers. No one ever says that they’re just not very good. 

 

At the other end of the table Paul Ince is facing a must-win - at least definitely must-not-lose - game against Wigan. The Guv’nor has been showing signs of the strain recently, and some of the things he has been saying are a testament to that. His assertion that Paul Robinson is the best goalkeeper in the league is perhaps the most concerning.  

 

Other highlights of this weekend’s mediocre fare include Everton’s trip to Manchester City, where purists are hoping Robinho can recover from an ankle injury in time to breathe some life into what otherwise promises to be a ‘typically English’ game. Aston Villa are looking to add more credence to their ‘Big 4’ credentials by dispatching an in-form Bolton side, and rudderless Sunderland face the sinking-ship of West Brom.   

 

Fixtures: Aston Villa v Bolton, Liverpool v Hull, Man City v Everton, Middlesbrough v Arsenal, Stoke v Fulham, Sunderland v West Brom, Tottenham v Man Utd, Wigan v Blackburn, Chelsea v West Ham, Portsmouth v Newcastle.

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