Looking for absolute futbol bliss? You’re living it. Thus far, the month of February has jam-packed an array of highly contested fixtures between the UEFA Champions League, the Europa League, and the English Premier League. Not to mention, the foreplay of those midweek FA Cup matches. It’s always fun to see a couple of Davids (here’s lookin’ at you, Oldham Athletic) put up a fight or even snag an upset against the Goliaths of the EPL. But alas, we have reached our comfort-zone of weekend matchups. Here are a couple contests to keep on your radar:
Manchester United vs. Queens Park Rangers
Loftus Road Stadium
Saturday, 2/23/13 @ 10am EST
After a comfortable FA Cup victory against Reading this Monday, the Red Devils look to continue their recent form, as they travel to White City to face the league’s bottom-feeding Queen’s Park Rangers. Although this may have the look of a seasonal spanking, don’t be surprised to get a good game out of this one. Wayne Rooney has been said to miss the game all thanks to a sinus issue. Yes, you read correctly. Do the training facilities at Old Trafford lack your normal standard for nasal cleansing? Someone please find Mr. Rooney a tissue or twelve. Looking at season’s past, this is your typical United game where they could easily lay a fat egg. Everything’s going swimmingly. Massive away result against Real Madrid in the Champions League. Cruising through the EPL. What could go wrong?
Queens Park Rangers
In QPR’s case, when you are begging for 20 points…it’s never a good sign. But that’s what Harry Redknapp’s team needs more than anything at this stage. This squad seemed to be getting on a more consistent track earlier in the month. With slightly convincing performances (both 0-0 draws) against Manchester City and Norwich, the defense seemed to be intact. That was until the next week’s 1-4 thrashing against the next “Hansel” of the EPL, Swansea. So hot right now. A home win against United has the potential to boost morale and lift them out of this laughable group of relegation-dwellers. Key word there is “potential”. But something has to change for the Hoops or they are looking at another nail-biting fight to stay in England’s top flight, at best.
Predicition: Manchester United 3, Queens Park Rangers 1
Aston Villa vs. Arsenal
Saturday, 2/23/13 @ 10am EST
The club that was once a staple among the middle-tier contenders of the Premiership is suffering through its poorest form in recent years. Struggling to stay out of the relegation zone, Villa could use a writhing Bob Knight speech to rally these troops. Without the consistency of a once brilliant Darren Bent, Aston Villa currently lacks the composure in front of the net to capitalize on the chances they have had. Every soccer meme distributor online will tell you that bringing Heskey back to their lineup will save Villa’s sorry soul, but I’m pretty sure on-field rape between male players would be seen as a straight red. After a straight-up DEPRESSING FA Cup loss to Green Street Hooligan adversary, Millwall, Aston Villa needs that shock victory we’ve seen around the league as of late. Now visiting a deflated Arsenal squad, we’ll see how this lackluster group of wankers can keep up with the attacking quick midfield play of Carzola and Wilshere.
The Gunners have seen better days. Roughly around the late 90’s. After being recently outclassed at home by the German power, Bayern Munich, the men of Arsenal once again find themselves questioning whether they’ll ever have the grit to make a run for ANY sort of title. Heck, they’ll take a Carling Cup at this point. Outside of the Champions League, this squad hasn’t shown any sort of true consistency league-wise either. It always seems to be one step forward, then two steps back with this crew. Now sitting one spot out of Champions League contention, Arsenal has a simple job ahead of them: beat Aston Villa at home. It’s a job that they are certainly capable of, given the talent that their roster boasts. But if for some reason the word “draw” is even being muttered after game day, you can bet on skipper Arsene Wenger receiving even more scrutiny than he already is. Like, a lot of it. Sky Sports is relentless.
Prediction: Aston Villa 0, Arsenal 2
Chelsea vs. Manchester City
Sunday, 2/24/13 @ 8:30am EST
Following a close call at the Bridge against Czech frontrunners, Sparta Prague, Chelsea can breathe a sigh of relief. If not for Eden Hazard’s injury time rocket, the Blues would be one somber bunch heading into a tough weekend matchup against Manchester City. Manager Rafa Benitez has been able to scrounge up a couple decent results as of late for his club after being under close surveillance following a poor start to his campaign as manager at Chelsea. Juan Mata has been nothing short of spectacular for his side. Leading his team in assists (9) and second only to Frank Lampard in goals (10), the Spanish international maintains a heavy influence everywhere on the pitch. He has been able to dictate the mobility and pace of Chelsea’s attacking forefront and wingers on a consistent basis. If the Blues are looking to maintain this stranglehold on the 3rd spot for Champions League contention, they need to keep Mata as that centerpiece. As for their means of attack, this debacle remains to be seen. We’ll see if Torres can be more aerodynamic without his Miley Cyrus hair and hopefully Demba Ba can see through his Rip Hamilton mask.
After smashing 4 goals past Leeds in the FA Cup, City are doing their best to forget that woeful performance against Southampton. Although the loss may have all but cost them a chance at a second consecutive EPL title, this squad has seen this script before. As much as I do enjoy a hearty belly chuckle at Mancini’s confidence, being 12 points out of a tie with top dogs United, he’s predicted a collapse before. To bank on something like that happening again, while unlikely, will rely more heavily on their performance through the remainder of the season. Even a poor United performance has shown results of a 1-0 or 2-1 in their favor thanks to a little addition to the squad named RVP. Moreover, City has the necessary firepower to engage their rivals in a race to the top. This race continues tomorrow on their home turf.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, Manchester City 3