Aston Villa v Wolverhampton (12.05)
With no Birmingham in the Premiership anymore, it’s down to these two teams and West Brom to excite things in the glorious city of Birmingham. I say ‘glorious’ translating as ‘I hate the place’, on account I’ve thrown up at least once whenever I’ve been there, true story. That’s a completely different story however, non-relevant to a match preview. This match is fierce though, I remember Emile Heskey cupping his ears at Wolves fans last season when the big man scored against Wolves at Molineux. That’s probably as fierce as it’ll get though with the game kicking off as most people emerge from their bed following a torturous week at work. For Aston Villa, they can call upon both Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey after being declared fit, whilst Chris Herd and Eric Lichaj are vying to replace Luke Young who is set to move to QPR. For Wolves, Mick McCarthy is expected to name an unchanged side from last week’s win over Fulham. Sylvain Ebanks-Blake however, looks set to miss out for a month following an injury he sustained against Northampton Town in the Carling Cup.
What won’t happen: Emile Heskey to score.
What will happen: Villa fail to score at all as Wolves sneak it 1-0.
Wigan Athletic v QPR (12.30)
Wigan’s three fixtures this season have come against all three newly promoted teams, the third being this match against QPR. Despite not having lost either of their opening two matches – a feat not managed in seven season by Wigan – the Latics are still to register a win, having drew against Norwich 1-1 on the opening day, then drawing 1-1 against Swansea in a game Wigan dominated for the large periods. In spite of dominating both their opening games, the fact Wigan failed to win either is a major concern and could spell trouble against a QPR side brimming with confidence following the injection of new money, the signing of Joey Barton and their first three points away to Everton last week. Joey Barton is ineligible to play for QPR, with his debut set for Newcastle’s visit to Loftus Road. Clint Hill sits this one out as he completes a three-match ban, though Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell have overcome the effects of a virus. For Wigan, Antolin Alcaraz and Steven Gohouri are definitely sidelined, though Victor Moses is only a slight doubt with a groin strain
What won’t happen: Hugo Rodallega to start. The striker is on his way out and any potential injury could scupper any deal. Expect him to start from the bench.
What will happen: QPR to win 2-0 in a convincing manner.
Blackburn Rovers v Everton
One club plays with imaginary money, another wishes it could pretend to have money at all. Blackburn’s Indian owners have long-promised famous names such as Raul and Ronaldinho with both having turned down the lucrative offer to unlimited all you can eat buffets at any established Venky’s outlet. As attractive as Blackburn’s owners make it sound, the grim reality is that Blackburn isn’t really a hot-bed for big footballing names and any transfer activity at Ewood Park would struggle to be any bigger than £2.8 million signing, David Goodwillie. Everton on the other hand, can’t buy players full-stop. David Moyes has admitted that any cash raised in the sale of a player would be hidden straight into the Everton FC bank vault, leaving Moyes nothing to play with in the transfer market. For this match, Blackburn hope to have Chris Samba available along with Simon Vukcevic, fresh from signing earlier this week. Ryan Nelsen is Blackburn’s only absentee. Everton welcome back Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, (he was banned) Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini.
What won’t happen: Either side to score. At all.
What will happen: A 0-0 draw. I genuinely feel sorry for people paying to watch this match, it promises to be a stinker.
Chelsea v Norwich
I have a feeling this will be one ‘Juan’ hell of a game? Get it? No? Well you should! Chelsea signed Juan Mata earlier this week and with Fernando Torres never having received the sort of passes he cherishes, I believe this playmaker will breath the life into Torres that is oh-so desperately needed. Despite Chelsea fans’ excitement surrounding his transfer, they may have to wait an hour or so to see him pull on a Chelsea shirt, with Mata likely to start from the bench. This brings us on nicely to team news for both sides and with Mata expected to be benched, I expect Romelu Lukaku to join him on the bench, Chelsea’s other big signing of this summer. David Luiz despite having trained last week following a thigh problem is not match fit, so expect Alex to start, along with Hilario who will continue to deputise in absence of the injured Petr Cech. Norwich welcome back Leon Barnett is available having served a one-match ban, though new-signing Daniel Ayala is out for eight weeks. Wes Hoolahan remains doubtful for Norwich with a hamstring problem so expect him not to feature as a precautionary measure.
What won’t happen: Grant Holt to score. I like him, but Holt against Terry and Alex is like an Apache Indian taking on the Soviet Union.
What will happen: A street-wise Norwich to get swept aside 3-0 despite holding out Chelsea for the first half.
Swansea v Sunderland
Both of these sides have drew one and lost in the Premiership so far this season whilst also managing to lose to lower league opposition in the Carling Cup. Put simply, a win is massive for both sides in building morale. Sunderland’s loss to Brighton is easier to explain; going to any away ground is hard but when it’s a lower league teams’ new ground, the task is made ten times more difficult and with that added factor, Sunderland’s cup exit was no real shock. Swansea however will be reeling from a 3-1 loss away to Shrewsbury. I don’t agree with putting out weakened teams for these matches, just put out a team capable of winning and breed a winning mentality. Sending out a team destined to lose can prove to be a disaster in the long-run. Both Garry Monk and Ferrie Bodde miss out for the Swans, whilst Sunderland have no injury problems at all, with John O’Shea set to make his debut and Phil Bardsley now made available following his one-match ban.
What won’t happen: A high-scoring match, both teams are as blunt as a plastic toy-hammer.
What will happen: A 0-0 draw. I can sense it that bad I can almost smell it. Almost, mind.
Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers (17:30)
Liverpool never looked brilliant in their victory over Arsenal, they looked steady, but never threatened too much when it was 11 v 11. In that respect, I think Liverpool are still coming to terms with so many new faces over the past few months and it could be weeks before we see Liverpool hit good form. For that reason, I fancy an impressive Bolton side (based on what I’ve seen so far) to shock Liverpool today. Raul Meireles is out for Liverpool after sustaining a collarbone injury whilst Glen Johnson is likely to be rested incase he aggravates a hamstring injury. For Bolton, Owen Coyle is without Marcos Alonso, Gretar Steinsson, Sam Ricketts, Chung-Yong Lee and Tyrone Mears for the trip to Liverpool. Despite all this, I feel Bolton can do something against Liverpool.
What won’t happen: Liverpool to dominate possession.
What will happen: Bolton to emerge Anfield 2-1 victors.