Friday, September 11, 2009

Barclays Premier League: The Big 4 Party Is About To Be Gatecrashed

Week 4 of the Barclays Premier League starts with a top of the table clash. The Big 4 Club is about to be gatecrashed by Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. This should be the weekend where Spurs and City prove that they can lay legitimate claim to an expansion of the Big 4 to a Super Six. Winning against Manchester United and Arsenal respectively will really make the football world sit up and take notice.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United
This is the chance for Harry Redknapp to prove that he has the necessary credentials to be a winning manager. Capturing the FA Cup with Portsmouth have given him confidence that he is a winner. Spurs have become a team with resolve and spirit to play attractive football while also having the size for the physical side. A lot will depend on how well Manchester United defend against Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon. The pace and trickery of Lennon will be a test for Evra but the seasoned defender must have studied videos after videos on the England winger to put one over him for once. Manchester United have a few match winners but will Berbatov perform or will he wilt? The midfield weaknesses are yet to be resolved and this is an area that Spurs have the upper hand. A win for Spurs however will gee the players up in anticipation of another crunch match the following week, a trip to Chelsea. Luka Modric will be missed but the aquisition of Niko Kranjcar will mean that he won't be missed. A draw looks a likely result though.

Manchester City vs. Arsenal
The loss of Andrei Arshavin will be a significant one for Arsene Wenger, going into this game. Mark Hughes is a practical manager, he will try to stop Arsenal from playing their passing game. Adebayor will be keen to add to his 100% record of scoring in every game thus far. He also have a point to prove to the Arsenal fans. City's Tevez and Robinho came back from international duties with knocks and are doubtful for the match. Hughes will employ the spoiling tactics to try and disrupt the Gunners play. The contest between Gareth Barry and Cesc Fabregas will be an interesting one. The City defence will have their first real test against the movement and pace of Eduardo and Robin Van Persie. The mood in the City camp seem to suggest that Hughes have managed to keep egos and personalities in check. Adebayor and Tevez have both declared recently that they have felt love from the City fans. The main difference between the two clubs is the giant Togolese striker and he may prove to be the match winner in this match.

Elsewhere, Liverpool will gun for a home win against Burnley to close the gap over the teams at the top. A full strength Liverpool squad awaits giantkillers Burnley and nothing less than three points will be sufficient. Rafa Benitez must be wary of Owen Coyle's team since they brought about an embarassing FA Cup defeat in 2005. Super-confident Chelsea will travel to Stoke, looking to match Stoke's physicality and will expect to pick up all three points to go five straight matches undefeated.

Potentially explosive and similarly intriguing is the Midlands derby between Birmingham and Aston Villa. Both clubs are having a decent season thus far. Birmingham however need to find ways to score goals. ALex McLeish have yet to fully unleash the threat of Christian Benitez and it is hard to understand why. Barry Ferguson and James McFadden will naturally be competing in the middle of the park and that's where Birmingham could win it. Villa's midfield has been weakened as Martin O'Neill did not replace Gareth Barry adequately.

Another definitive round of weekend fixtures are in store. A weekend where we will find out if Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City can really shake up the established Big 4 and make this season all about the "Super Six". All will be stay tuned!

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