Football Forecast 6 March 2009
This weekend will prove to be an exiting one with a mix of Premier League and F.A cup games to keep us entertained and firmly fixed to our armchairs shouting obscene comments at player who’s names you cannot pronounce. This week’s F.A Cup is set to be a mouth watering round with one or two upsets a must , after all it is cup football. With all the cup action the Premier League only plays host to one match in the form of Sunderland v Tottenham at the Stadium of Light. Firstly we’ll have brief insight into the tantalizing F.A cup matches set to take the Nation by a storm over the coming days.
Coventry City v Chelsea
Chelsea travel to the Ricoh Arena this Saturday to take on the lively ‘Sky Blues’ who have defied all odds and booked themselves a high profile encounter with the Londoners. Coventry will have a lot of work laid out in front of them if they are to make a dent in Chelsea’s chances of silverware this season adding more woes to the list at Staford Bridge. The club’s own anthem claims that they will never lose to Chelsea so the players will have the club’s pride and glory rested firmly on their shoulders. I wonder will the anthem be echoing around the Ricoh Arena should Chelsea win.
Coventry lost a midweek encounter against Sheffield United at home which resulted in booing from the home fans. The players would have felt the heat from manager Chris Coleman after the whistle in a match which was seen as a warm up for this weeks high profile encounter. “We are better then what we showed of ourselves against Sheffield” said Coleman.
He then went on to hint that the Chelsea game isn’t as important to him as it is to the fans and that the league is their main priority. The question has to be raised, has Coleman given up before the game has even started? Surely the players will have the want to put in a good performance against Chelsea after all how often do they get this kind of opportunity? Not very often is the answer to that question.
Striker Clinton Morrison will be eager to have his name pencilled in on the score sheet. The striker who missed a lot of last season through injury has proved to be one of Coventry’s most energetic players this year. Either setting up opportunities or scoring himself I’m positive the Irish man will cause a lot of headaches for the Chelsea defence. Morrisson has sent shivers down the spines of defenders since his youth days at Crystal Palace and has proven himself on the internation scene. He’s definitley the one to watch this week.
Didier Drogba will be eager to secure his place in the first team especially after his late winner at Portsmouth last week. The Ivory Coast man has been side lined for much of the season much to his own frustration and of course to the delight of Anelka who is one of the favorites at ’ The Bridge’. Perhaps the recognised target man will see Saturday’s trip to Coventry as a means of lacing up his shooting boots for next weeks match with Italian giants Juventus.
With such a important game coming up and with the title race all but over in the mind of temporary manager Guss Hiddink, perhaps he may decide to leave some of the big guns on the bench to avoid the ever present risk of injuries and fatigue. Although that is a recipie for disaster as Chelsea learned last year against Burnley.
Overall, I think Chelsea will just outclass the Coventry boys. Fitness will definitely have a huge part to play in this one, Coventry are of a much lower standered to Chelsea and could find them selves ‘huffing and puffing’ but not being able to knock the Chelsea defence down. I predict a narrow Chelsea win perhaps coming in the later stages of the game.
Fulham v Manchester United
Fulham play host to the Premier League leaders at Craven Cottage this Saturday. Fulham who are in a comfortable position in the league will surely feel confident that they will pull a little something out of the hat to shock Alex Ferguson’s men.
Late last month Fulham showed how they can compete with the big dogs when they played Arsenal out for 90 minutes managing to secure a much need point at the Emirates Stadium. In that match they showed how they can frustrate a team of quality and play the old fashioned way.
However, on Wednesday the London men had the wind beaten out of their sails when they where halted by defeat on their home patch against a vibrant Hull city. Although the Fulham attacking force did show signs of promise, Bobby Zamora found himself often isolated and with little options. Perhaps a change in tactics may be in the spotlight behind the scenes at Fulham. Although that would go against Fulham policies who like to keep things pretty conservative in all walks of life.
In the end Fulham’s complacency over powered their concentration in that game with the winning goal being conceded in injury time. The Craven Cottage faithful will have worries planted firmly in the backs of their minds following last weeks defeat. With no recent injuries to worry about the management team at Fulham will have a virtually unharmed side from the midweek clash with Hull to choose from. Although they have an important league fixture with Blackburn fast approaching Fulham will give 110% as always.
Manchester United will be on a high following their recent win over Newcastle where they came from behind to secure a 2-1 win and their recent investment with the Carling Cup title. However, there have been speculation circulating the tabloids concerning a bust up between world player of the year Ronaldo and team mate Taylor. Perhaps Taylor wore the same clothes as Ronaldo, we’ll never know. Ferguson was delighted with the performance his team put in at St. James Park and had this to say : “It’s down to trusting your players and having the ability to win matches and we had to do that against Newcastle. Being 1-0 down away from home isn’t easy, but we came back to win thanks to a very gritty performance.”
With such important fixtures in the coming week against Inter Milan and Liverpool, United will want no hope of a replay to add to that list and will want to write Fulham of as quickly as possible.
This match is bound to be a fast, free flowing game but in my opinion United will come out on top. Of course Fulham will put in a decent performance as they always do but I think the class and speed of United will prove too much for Fulham.
Arsenal v Burnley
Burnley travel to the Emirates Stadium for the first time to take on cup hopefuls Arsenal. Burnley who have come up trumps against Premier League clubs such as Chelsea and Liverpool in the cup over recent years have an a slice of confidence on their side with their track record in mind. Although they have added no silverware to their trophy cabinet in quite some time they always prove energetic to watch and are sure to put up a good fight against the Gunners on Sunday.
Most recently Burnley travelled to Blackpool where they put in a winning performance by securing a one nil victory over the men in orange. Burnley do have a few niggles going into Sundays game having picked up a few bruises in that sluggish match but nothing too serious. Striker Martin Patterson is all set up for Sundays clash. The energetic front man has proved time and time again just what he is capable of and is sure to cause a problem of two for the rigid Arsenal defence who can just as easily get caught flat footed as they can sleeping.
Sundays game is obviously their biggest game of the season and it is no doubt that all the players will be upbeat and ready for their task. I took the time to snoop around some of the Burnley FC forums and websites and their fans look all set to travel to the Emirates in full voice. Surely the players will be needing their ‘twelfth man’. The Burnley squad is liable to injuries with so few players in the squad, with one of their three strikes on loan, a single injury or red card could mean life or death in the F.A Cup.
Arsenal will be confident of victory as well, as there strike force seem to have their goal senses about them. Securing a 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Last Tuesday the Gunners will have a pep in their step as they cross the white line this Sunday. Arséne Wenger, like other managers involved in the cup this weekend, has some Champions League worries to cope with as they face Roma in mid-week. One thing Arsenal have been lacking this season is consistency and it is for that reason I think there could be a fly in the ointment at the Emirates Stadium.
With Burnley’s history in the cup in their favour and Arsenal’s unpredictability taken into account I think we could be in for a shock this weekend. I have to say, although the odds are stacked against them perhaps Burnley may take a draw from the Emirates and bring the tie back to their home patch where they have proven to be quite a force.
Everton v Middlesbrough
Everton are all set to entertain Middlesbrough at Goodison Park this Sunday in what is one of two all Premier League games in the F.A Cup this weekend. Having already beaten arch rivals Liverpool in the competition at a replay at Goodison, Everton will have their wits about them as they prepare for what is going to be one of their most important encounters of the season.
The first ten minutes of this game really will be a sink or swim situation. This game could so easily be decided upon an early goal. A goal which could go either way. It has to be said that this game really will be a close call. Will Joleon Lescott once again act as Everton’s arm bands?
With the announcement that key man Victor Anichibe will be out for the rest of the season, worries will be floating around Goodison park. However, they have proven that they are one of the few creative teams in premier league football today. That was amplified in the last round when they cruised to a 3-1 victory over Premier league force Aston Villa. Last week however they did not manage to get on the score board and played out a boring 0-0 draw with Blackburn Rovers. The last time these sides met was boxing day of last year when Everton escaped from the Riverside with a 1-0 victory.
Middlesbrough will be out for revenge and of course a place in the next round this Sunday. Having been crushed in their last encounter away too Spurs at White Heart Lane, Boro will be on uneven ground as they arrive at Goodison Park. Once again away from home, will we see a repeat of last weeks performance or more specifically defending? Only time will tell. After that embarrassing defeat Gareth Southgate actually had to apologise to the Boro fans who were clearly less that pleased at their teams dreadful performance.
With so much too prove I think Boro might lay it on a little to thick this weekend and perhaps get caught on the counter. Everton have proved time and time again to us what they can do, and that is score goals. With all this in mind I can only see Everton progressing through to the next round leaving a sorry Middlesbrough to pick up the pieces and wipe their tears away.
Sunderland v Tottenham
Tottenham will travel to the Stadium of Light this Saturday to take on a youthful Sunderland side in the only Premier League game of this weekend. This game will of course be a sell out as Sunderland fans are expected to come from far and wide to see the spectacle. This match is bound to unravel the mysteries behind this years relegation battle with both sides level on points and a mere four points above the drop zone.
Sunderland will have prepared vigorously for the visitors who showed their style last week in a 4-0 win over Middlesbrough. However, midfielder Teemu Tainio is set to miss the encounter as he is struggling with a slight knee injury. Manager Ricky Sbragia had this to say as regards the injury : “Teemu has a little problem with his knee but he seems happier with it and he’s done a bit of running”.
The injury kept Teemu out of last week’s loss to Liverpool but he is expected to be back in action soon. Last week’s loss will have left Sunderland asking serious questions ahead of their clash with Spurs. Personally, I think the only chance Sunderland will have of goals is to catch Tottenham on the break and test their keeper as best they can. However, Andy Reid is confident that Sunderland will come back fighting following their defeat to Liverpool last time out.
Tottenham on the other hand will be overjoyed and ready for more following their impressive win last week. With Robbie Keane back on form in his rightful home he is bound to have a run or two at the Sunderland defence. Having left Liverpool in January he seems happier and more confident about the ball and I’m sure he’ll have a taste for goals on Saturday. The bookies seem to favour Tottenham to send Sunderland packing this Saturday given their recent form, alhough they would like us to predict it wrong!
The only league game this weekend will definitely be of the highest level and I expect to see lots of goals from both sides, or at least I hope so. However, I think Tottenham have shown what they are capable of in the goals department last week. Confidence will be running high and I expect a win for the visitors.
Hopefully this weekend will be a memorable one in English football and prove to be enjoyable for all to watch as it is expected to be. With the season coming to a close and the race for the F.A Cup heating up I’m sure we won’t be disappointed and if we are we can always watch the bobsledding.