Pardon the wandering off der geschlagene Weg, but 2 matches in the Premiership this weekend merit possibly more attention than the North London Derby. You can call it a Spurs fan attempting to deflect some attention away from his side’s likely capitulation at the Emirates this weekend or as a Tottenham supporter eying the table and noting these clubs threaten an opportunity to qualify for Europe next season.
Either way, this could be a miserable weekend for the Lillywhites but an encouraging one for the others. Have I mentioned watching Roman Pavlyuchenko gives me ulcers? COYS!
SF Bolton v Newcastle United
Owen Coyle’s side reside in 5th position with 19 points, 3 points behind Manchester City for the final Champions League spot. Toon are 8th, only 1 point behind the Trotters and anxious to accumulate more points than its current run of 1 point from 3 matches.
Bolton’s been a bit flavorful lately, what with captain Kevin Davies earning his first England cap during recent Euro qualification and headliners Chelsea and Arsenal rumored to be after CB Gary Cahill in January. US-ian Stuart Holden continues to make the Stars and Stripes proud with a solid season that included his first Prem goal last weekend.
Owen Coyle seems to have cut through the greasy residue left over from the days of Fat Sam and Gary Megson and transformed Bolton into a watchable side that wins. It’s a new dawn at the Reebok!
As for Newcastle, Don Dokken/Andy Carroll if you’re particular–and the lovable thug Joey Barton have Newcastle in a respectable position in the Toon’s maiden return to the Premiership. The Magpies have already accumulated over half of the total points they amassed in their entire 2008-2009 campaign along scoring over half of its goal total from that season as well.
A win in this fixture could give Newcastle a considerable boost heading back home to entertain Chelsea next week. With Chelsea’s injury list growing along with confidence that it can beat top sides, this tie could be massive for Chris Hughton and Bango Tango.
Just to add some additional incentive for the Tynesiders is that Bolton is the side that sent them sliding out of the Premiership back in 2009. The 1-0 loss to the Trotters on March 1, 2009, began a winless swoon that ushered in Geordie hero Alan Shearer to manage the club out of the Prem.
Fulham v Manchester City
Perhaps this one doesn’t look too appealing at first—Fulham have had a poor season to date whilst Citeh appear locked into 4th position regardless of how many defensive midfielders The Scarf employs. However, certain events might conspire to make this one a spicy affair at Craven Cottage. I’ll avoid making a gumbo reference and get to it.
For Citeh, the Citizens are wont to distance itself from the club that has enjoyed consecutive 0-0 draws. The sheikh is spending too much on guys like Tevez, Silva, Balotelli, and Adebayor to not score goals for this side. Further, one would think will all that money someone could buy James Milner a pair of boots that keeps him more upright during matches.
Gravity, apparently, is not Milner’s friend.
Down in West London, the Cottagers received a boost this week when Clint Dempsey chose not to suit up for the US in the midweek friendly against South Africa.
Remaining close to his wife while awaiting the birth of Deuce: The Sequel, Dempsey will be available without that nasty bit of jetlag and—as Fulham’s leading scorer—will be sorely needed for the Cottagers to test Jerome Boateng’s new-found fitness levels.
Further, this match pits Citeh against its former boss, Mark Hughes. Sparky might be looking to exact some revenge against the club that dumped him last season and will likely have his side sufficiently motivated for the contest. Mixed martial artist Nigel deJong has acknowledged the Sparky factor will put some pressure on the Middle Eastlands outfit, and entertaining the enemy at home will suit Hughes well.
So, there you have it—2 matches, 4 sides that aren’t Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, or Liverpool
Or Tottenham. We’ll talk about them later. Or not.