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United need to please Ferguson


Manchester United FC will be on their best behaviour Saturday against Burnley as they look to appease their irate manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Man United’s Wayne Rooney, currently enjoying one his most prolific seasons, will hope to shine in the game against Burnley. AFP
Liverpool’s Fernando Torres will be the lonesome target man for the match against Stoke this Saturday. AFP

Last weekend’s Premiership ties took one hell of a beating from the weather. The worst winter since 1947 has made a congested fixture list even more jam packed, and should help continue the seemingly endless shocks and surprises that have made this season the most compelling for years.

Once again Man United squandered the chance to pile extra pressure onto Chelsea by failing to beat surprise package of the season Birmingham last week. At home to Burnley this Saturday, Sir Alex will demand a resounding victory to put his Red Devils back on course.

Burnley may have caught United off guard earlier in the season, but a trip to Old Trafford for newly appointed boss Brian Laws should be nothing more than a footballing lesson. Ferguson will have one eye on the mid-week cup tie against their bitter city rivals, but it shouldn’t make any difference to the outcome.

United very rarely slip up at home and Burnley’s away record is dismal, so this should be a home banker. Rooney is likely to pull the strings for United, and this game could easily turn into a rout.

The early game Saturday sees Liverpool travel south to Stoke in a game Benitez must win to keep pace with their rivals for fourth spot. The Reds know exactly what tactics they’re going to face at the Britannia Stadium. It will probably be cold and windy but it will certainly test the credentials of Liverpool’s foreign imports.

Benitez will play Torres on his own up front and he’ll shift Carragher out to right back, to give his back four more aerial reassurances. This match won’t be one for the football purists, but with Liverpool desperate to take all three points, we might just get a game full of tension and drama.

It’s about time Gerrard led by example, but Stoke are formidable opponent at home and I fear this game could bypass the likes of Aquilani. Torres will be the main threat as usual, but only if his teammates are capable of provide decent enough service.

The football world was generally angered by Mark Hughes’ dismissal at Man City, but his replacement Roberto Mancini has won three straight league games and propelled them into fourth in the table. The blue half of Manchester is finally starting to believe that the big time is just around the corner.

This weekend, Mancini’s side face their sternest test yet as they travel to Goodison Park. Everton has endured a poor first half of the season but seem to be slowly waking up. Their squad’s injury list is finally easing off and last weeks point at Arsenal would have given them relief. David Moyes knows if he can keep Louis Saha fit, then they have a genuine goal scorer.

I expect Robinho again to be left out. Mancini will have learnt quickly that the Premiership is too ferocious to carry any players, and I’d expect him to pack his midfield with enough steel to compensate Everton’s fierce work rate and drive. Tevez’s performances are starting to match his price tag and I fancy City will have enough in the tank to at least get a draw.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger knows he missed out when they were held at home by Everton. It certainly proved there are no easy games in the Premiership, but if Arsenal are going to challenge for the title then they’ll have to capitalise on such games. They visit a Bolton side now under the leadership of Owen Coyle, who will be keen to take his new club out of the relegation zone.

Arsenal are still capable of giving away cheap goals and badly need to buy a quality target man, but they should have far too much class for an average Bolton squad. Fabregas is now fit again and with his impact on the team, I can only see one winner.

Chelsea, Tottenham and Aston Villa all have home fixtures this weekend that they are expected to win. Chelsea aren’t at their best, but Sunderland have been struggling away from home with Steve Bruce’s side leaking too many goals.

Spurs have already hammered Hull this season, and at White Hart Lane the Tiger’s lack of quality will be badly exposed. Villa’s form has been rocked over Christmas, but a home tie against an injury ravaged and struggling West Ham should be the tonic they need to kick start their season.



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