After the weekend’s FA Cup games, Premiership teams are straight back into action with eight midweek games. With Man United currently on top, and the tussle for Champions League places incredibly tight, we can expect even more excitement. If you add the fight for survival into the mix, every team has something to play for.
Owen Coyle is a classic example of how you can go from hero to zero in no time at all. His departure two weeks ago from Burnley to join Bolton has made him enemy number one for the Clarets faithful, who he must endure tonight. This six point game would normally be about survival, but has added significance from the managerial movement.
Klasnic looks a decent striker for Bolton, and if they’re going to get themselves out of trouble he seems their best hope. One positive for Coyle is that he knows what to expect from a Burnley side he shaped and moulded.
The Clarets only have one point on the road this season but despite their dismal record, they keep illustrating that they can play attractive football. Fletcher and Eagles have been Burnley’s shinning stars going forward, and I can’t see this ending goalless with both sides shaky in defence. A high scoring draw could be on the cards, which won’t bring Bolton fans any joy whatsoever.
Over Christmas, Aston Villa failed to match the Premiership big guns, but at home to Arsenal Wednesday night they have a chance to redeem themselves and spark a revival.
Martin O’Neil will have drilled his troops into set play perfection. Arsenal are one of the shortest sides in the league and Villa will look to expose this. Milner, Young and Downing will offer the delivery they need to score, but there will be a question over how much possession they will be able to retain.
Fabregas single handily beat Villa at the Emirates earlier in the season, and with his return from injury, Arsenal’s confidence is sky high. Both teams will be desperately trying to take all three points, which will hopefully turn this game into a cracker.
Something has to give at Stamford Bridge. Will Chelsea stop scoring or will Birmingham start conceding goals? Birmingham deserve to be where they are, but this should be the game when the Premiership’s tough reality kicks in. Hart is in the form of his life in goal for Birmingham, but with Anelka, Lampard and the rest of the Blues free scoring midfield unleashed on him Wednesday, he’ll have a busy night.
The absence of Ancelloti’s African quartet seems to have galvanised the rest of the squad. With the prize of recapturing of top spot awaiting them, this should be enough motivation to drive Chelsea past a dogged Birmingham.
After Liverpool battled their way through a disappointing Tottenham side last week, will the Reds carry the momentum with them as they travel to Wolverhampton today? Liverpool are still be missing Torres and Gerrard, but they have proved they can just about live without them.
Aquilani is slowly improving and offers the creativity his team have been yearning for this season. Wolves know they are entrenched into a relegation battle, and it’s difficult to see where they will find the class to win Premiership games.
Despite Liverpool’s inconsistency, you’d be a fool not to back them and even though Dirk Kuyt misses too many chances, I think he could be the match winner yet again.
The best of the rest sees Portsmouth host West Ham tonight in what is a massive match on and off the pitch. They are both in serious financial meltdown, struggling to stay afloat, and come into the game with no real form. I fear this will fade out into a draw which will suit neither side.
Spurs, after their poor display at Anfield, will look to bounce back immediately by beating Fulham tonight. Lennon has been badly missed, and despite his absence Defoe and co should use their home advantage to beat the resolute Cottagers.