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Premier League: 5 Things

Remi Garde

The past few days have witnessed a marked shift in the DNA of the Premier League; Aston Villa added to their French legion by appointing Remi Garde as manager, Wayne Rooney’s dwindling physical prowess became more obvious than ever, and Arsenal continued their rampant surge towards the summit – here’s five things that defined the top-flight this weekend.

1. Wayne Rooney is no longer a central striker

It’s been obvious for the last couple of years, to anyone with eyes at least, that while Sir Wayne of Roon-shire remains an excellent technical footballer, his physical traits are on the slide.

Despite this, Manchester United insist on using him as a lone striker, with the more dynamic Anthony Martial shunted onto the wing to accommodate the shop-worn  30 year-old, who would be better served as a number ten playing just behind the French starlet.

2. Jamie Vardy could be an ideal foil for Harry Kane

Jamie Vardy nipped in with yet another eleventh hour winner this weekend, scoring for the eighth league match in succession to secure Leicester City’s latest thrilling victory, the Foxes edging a five goal thriller against West Brom at the Hawthorns.

Vardy’s pace, work-rate and close control, aligned with cultured end product, places him among the front-runners for an England forward berth; he’d be a perfect partner for Tottenham’s Harry Kane, with Rooney’s aforementioned transition into midfield allowing this thrilling front two to blossom.

3. Sunderland’s fluky Derby win papered over some large cracks

The Mackems and their fans rejoiced just over a week ago, as they defeated North-East neighbours Newcastle United with assistance from one of the shoddiest refereeing displays in years (courtesy of the incompetent Robert Madley).

Karma was well and truly dished out the following weekend, as Everton destroyed Sam Allardyce’s terrible troupe 6-2, a scoreline that flattered Sunderland who were abysmal for 85 of the 90 minutes. They can’t rely entirely upon inept officials to save them it seems.

4. Chelsea should have strengthened in the summer

John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Matic, Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa are a few of the many Chelsea players whose stars have dimmed strikingly this season. Meanwhile Eden Hazard, the 2014-15 PFA Player of The Year, has become a liability in amongst the chaos.

Controversial events behind the Stamford Bridge scenes, woeful results and a trigger happy owner could combine to spell the end of Jose Mourinho’s second spell with the club any time soon; a 3-1 home capitulation against Liverpool the latest in a string of dysfunctional defeats for the Blues.

5. Remi Garde will need to hit the ground running

The 3-1 scoreline of Aston Villa’s latest defeat, this time at the hands of Spurs, failed to tell the whole story; the league’s bottom side were completely outclassed, looking every inch a second-tier team in the process.

New managers usually enjoy a honeymoon period, and former Lyon boss Garde will hope to witness something better when he officially takes charge of his first match for the club at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon. The opposition? League leaders Manchester City!

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Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League: 5 Things

A pivotal weekend of Premier League action saw pressure heaped on one of the world’s most successful coaches, while a couple of other situations became vacant. Meanwhile, the shackles were torn off the top-flight’s top striker. Kureen looks at five things we learned from the past couple of days.

1. Aguero is back to his brilliant best

For 44 minutes Newcastle United more than matched Manchester City at the Etihad, leading 1-0 and spurning a trio of gaping opportunities to extend that lead.

Enter Aguero to bag a record equalling 5 goals in the 16 subsequent minutes of play, joining Messrs Shearer, Cole, Berbatov and Defoe in achieving the quintet. Disappointingly for home fans, the diminutive Argentinian forward was subbed off in the 62nd minute with the outright record seemingly within his grasp.

2. Aston Villa are now a club in crisis

The summer signings looked excellent on paper, and an opening day win at Bournemouth built up expectation. One point in seven games since then have provided a reality check for the Midland club, with only Rudy Gestede shining among the off-season acquisitions.

Villa are backed for a narrow away win

Manager Tim Sherwood faces the chop just eight games into a new campaign, with the next eight fixtures unlikely to ease that burden – trips to Chelsea, Southampton, Spurs and Everton, as well as home matches against Arsenal, Manchester City and Swansea are on the horizon.

3. The title race is wide open

The manner in which Arsenal dispatched Manchester United 3-0, coupled with three point hauls for a host of teams near the summit, once again highlighted the lack of consistency in the English top tier this term.

No team looks untouchable, with the returns to form of talismanic South Americans Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero probably sufficient to ensure some sleepless nights for opposing defenders.

4. The manager merry-go-round begins

Liverpool ditched Brendan Rodgers after a 1-1 derby day draw at Everton, with Dick Advocaat stepping away from his role at Sunderland after they let a two goal lead slip in their 2-2 draw with West Ham.

Plenty of other managers are under the cosh; Jose Mourinho, Steve McClaren and Tim Sherwood will all be crossing fingers, toes and tracksuit bottoms that their owners have more patience than the fat cats at Anfield.

5. Leicester and Palace could challenge for Europe

Two clubs that continued their wonderful starts to the season are Crystal Palace and Leicester City, both of whom find themselves in the top five as we head towards another international break.

The Eagles look the more complete group, with Yohan Cabaye pulling strings for the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie to prosper. The Foxes are full of confidence as well, but are less likely to remain as prosperous when they inevitably suffer a couple of injuries and/or suspensions.

Let us know your thoughts on the weekend’s action – should Brendan Rodgers have been given more time? Comment below, and if you’re feeling good natured like our Facebook page.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League Preview: 5 Things

With another weekend of bombastic fixtures, the Premier League season is well and truly taking shape already.  

Number 5

Just over a month in, there have already been a handful of shocks and surprises. We take a look at five things we should know a little more about by the beginning of next week.

City Spurred back to winning ways?

Manchester City were a mite unfortunate not to take at least a point against West Ham last weekend, but coupled with a disappointing display against Juventus in Europe it placed some pressure on manager Manuel Pellegrini – you’re only ever two bad results from a crisis when fickle oil tycoons control your destiny!

An emphatic 4-1 League Cup spanking of whipping boys Sunderland was a timely reminder of how dangerous the Citizens can be when wounded. This weekend they face a Spurs team who crashed out of the same cup competition at home to fierce rivals Arsenal.

Tottenham have looked a shadow of their former selves so far this term, but with home advantage and their own burden to bear after the mid-week shambles, I expect them to respond with a decent home display.

Conclusion: Harry Kane to score early, as Spurs dig deep for a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane.

Chelsea defeat = McClaren chop?

Wally with Brolly McClaren

Steve McClaren is a man under pressure only 8 matches into his reign as Newcastle manager. Of those only one has resulted in a win (against lowly Northampton Town in the League Cup), two draws and five defeats, the most recent of which was a humbling home reverse against Championship team Sheffield Wednesday.

Chelsea have been hit and miss (as has Diego Costa with his fists), but their 2-0 win against title rivals Arsenal last weekend provided evidence of a return to form. Despite the dough-faced Spanish striker’s rough house tactics, Jose Mourinho’s men were good value for the result.

A Newcastle defeat might be expected, but Mourinho has never won a match at St James’ Park, so it would be another unwelcome feather in McClaren’s already overloaded cap.

Conclusion: Newcastle have stepped up against the better sides they’ve faced, but their toothless team will have no joy today – Chelsea to win 3-1.

Brendan’s last bow?

Another manager under intense scrutiny is Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool. The affable Northern Irishman has never really recovered from losing star striker Luis Suarez to Barcelona just over a year ago.

On paper Aston Villa provide ideal opposition, having collected only one point from their past five league outings, but the Villains have previous at Anfield, collecting eight points from their last four visits to Merseyside.

Both teams will be desperate to pick up the win, and although on paper The Reds have a far superior group of players, they have yet to gel.

Conclusion: With Benteke seemingly unfit to take on his former club and Daniel Sturridge not match ready, Danny Ings will step up as his side sneak a priceless 2-1 win.

Foxes to finally lose against Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger Statue

Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes have been one of the surprise packages of the season, winning three and drawing three of their opening half a dozen fixtures.

In Jamie Vardy they have a forward brimming with confidence as they continually defy the odds to comeback late in games, their philosophy to outscore the opposition and hit them on the break.

Arsenal haven’t quite reached their apex, with the spotlight firmly placed on a lack of signings. Delectable approach play is too often undermined by profligate finishing… Why didn’t they go for Charlie Austin or Alexandre Lacazette?

Conclusion: Arsenal will click, and as long as their strikers are on song they’ll take three points back to North London: 2-1 away win.

Rooney to end goal drought?

He might be banging the cup goals in, and striking penalties home for England, but Wayne Rooney’s Premier League form has been lacklustre thus far, outshone by the dazzling potential of £40m+ teenage acquisition Anthony Martial.

True, Rooney is playing a number ten role, but he looks bereft of confidence when it comes to burying chances; Alan Shearer’s 260 goal EPL record appears ever more distant with each blank display.

Step up Sunderland, a team conceding goals by the bucket load. Although the Mackems have pigeon-brained Younes Kaboul suspended, the rest of their back-line isn’t much better, so if Rooney is going to break his duck he couldn’t have chosen a more fitting opponent.

Conclusion: United will ram home three goals, two from Rooney, as they complete a routine 3-0 rout.

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Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Transfer Window 2015: How did your club do?

With the Summer transfer window now slammed shut for Premier League sides, it’s time to reflect on the increasing, surely unsustainable spending that’s occurred during two crazy months.

Arsenal

Total spent: £11m
Notable addition: Petr Cech (Chelsea, £11m)
Notable departure: Abou Diaby (Released)

Arsenal addressed the need for a top quality custodian by acquiring Chelsea’s second choice stopper, Petr Cech, who promises to add stability to the set-up. Unfortunately they still look a striker and midfield destroyer short of challenging for the title, and an additional central defender wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Aston Villa

Total spent: £52.5m
Notable addition: Jordan Amavi (Nice, £10m)
Notable departure: Christian Benteke (Liverpool, £32.5m)

Christian Benteke’s departure was inevitable, but Fabian Delph’s transfer to Manchester City was a little more contentious, with the England midfielder, having rejected City’s initial advances, pledging his allegiance the Villains, only to perform an about turn and join the Eastlands club less than a week later. Villa have raided France, bringing in some promising talent; most notably Jordan Amavi from Nice.

Bournemouth

Total spent: £23.8m
Notable addition: Max Gradel (£6.8m, Saint-Etienne)
Notable departure: Brett Pitman (£1.2m, Ipswich Town)

The Cherries have picked up from where they left off last season, playing aesthetically appealing football and getting decent results along the way. On paper their squad looks short of quality, although the likes of Max Gradel and Tyrone Mings are astute additions. With Eddie Howe at the helm anything seems possible, and perhaps their best piece of business was retaining the talented Callum Wilson.

Chelsea

Total spent: £69m
Notable addition: Pedro (Barcelona, £21.4m)
Notable departure: Petr Cech (Arsenal, £11m)

A quiet, by Chelsea standards, transfer window, coupled with some disappointing results, has emphasised the need to reinvigorate a declining squad. John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic in particular have looked as if they’re on the slide. The ultimately fruitless pursuit of Everton’s John Stones will have left Jose Mourinho bitterly frustrated.

Crystal Palace


Total spent: £25.3m
Notable addition: Yohan Cabaye (PSG, £12.8m)
Notable departure: None.

Palace have quietly assembled one of the most thrilling squads in the Premier League, having enjoyed an excellent transfer window, whilst remaining under the radar. Their capture of Yohan Cabaye could be one of the deals of the summer; the diminutive playmaker already having made an impact for the Eagles.

Everton

Total spent: £21.75m
Notable addition: Ramiro Funes Mori (River Plate, £9.5m)
Notable departure: None.

Everton have decided to keep their powder dry for the most part this summer, adding five new faces without spending (relative) big bucks. Keeping John Stones away from Chelsea may prove a short-term victory; that said, a reported £40m offer for the defender was exorbitant, and unlikely to be matched in future, less frenzied times.

Leicester City


Total spent: £25m
Notable addition: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz, £7.2m)
Notable departure: Esteban Cambiasso (Released)

The unexpected departure of manager Nigel Pearson left a gaping hole in the Foxes’ recruitment drive in the early weeks of the window, but that soon picked up when former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri took the reigns. The ‘Tinkerman’ has made half a dozen useful signings, the best of which looks to be talented Japanese marksman Okazaki.

Liverpool

Total spent: £80.5m
Notable addition: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa, £32.5m)
Notable departure: Raheem Sterling (Man City, £49m)

The Reds started the summer as if they planned to purchase an entirely new squad, perhaps with one eye on the impending departure of Raheem Sterling to Manchester City. Benteke has the ability to become a club legend, and the signings of Danny Ings, James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne provide value for money, although none are exactly marquee purchases.

Manchester City

Total spent: £154m
Notable addition: Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg, £55m)
Notable departure: James Milner (Liverpool, free)

The Citizens have resumed the spendthrift stance that was temporarily foiled as a result of the club besmirching FIFA’s “Financial Fair Play” regulations. Stockpiling players once again, they appear to have all bases covered, and anything less than European glory will probably result in Manuel Pellegrini receiving his marching orders.

Manchester United

Total spent: £115.8m
Notable addition: Memphis Depay (PSV, £24.4m)
Notable departure: Angel Di Maria (PSG, £44.8m)

A whirlwind deadline day saw United secure the services of prodigiously talented teenage attacker Anthony Martial from Monaco for an initial £36m and a deal to trade David De Gea to Real Madrid thwarted by tardy paperwork. Despite all of that, their best business was agreed before the window opened, with exciting winger Depay swapping Holland for England.

Newcastle United

Total spent: £48m
Notable addition: Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV, £13m)
Notable departure: Jonas Gutierrez (released)

The Toon Army have (finally) been treated to a host of exciting additions, as well as a much needed revamp in coaching set-up and management. Wijnaldum is, literally and figuratively, the biggest name addition to the group, although both Chancel Mbemba and Floran Thauvin have impressed thus far. Aleksandar Mitrovic should become the number nine supporters have long craved… If he can stay on the pitch for long enough.

Norwich City

Total spent: £12m
Notable addition: Robbie Brady (Hull City, £7m)
Notable departure: Mark Bunn (Aston Villa, free)

Norwich haven’t managed to attract anyone particularly exciting to Norfolk, but what they have done is embellish their midfield with stable top-flight performers. Irish full-back/winger Robbie Brady is a gifted player who deserves the chance to fulfil his undoubted ability, but there is a feeling that the Canaries will end up relying heavily upon the jet-heeled Nathan Redmond.

Southampton

Total spent: £42.5m
Notable addition: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord, £10.5m)
Notable departure: Morgan Schneiderlin (Man United, £27m)

Saints have had a wonderful knack in recent seasons of getting top dollar for outgoing players and replacing them with better, cheaper alternatives. Jordy Clasie may prove to be another coup, although he’s not in the Schneiderlin mould just yet. Nataniel Clyne is a loss, but hanging on to Spurs target Victor Wanyama on deadline day was vital, while the late addition of Virgil Van Dijk is savvy.

Stoke City


Total spent:
£29.8m
Notable addition: Xherdan Shaqiri (Inter Milan, £12m)
Notable departure: Asmir Begovic (Chelsea, £8m)

The evolution of Stoke City continues apace, with the addition of skilful innovators such as Xherdan Shaqiri and Marco van Ginkel to the ranks. Mark Hughes has assembled a quality squad at the Britannia Stadium. The departure of the brilliant Asmir Begovic has afforded the promising Jack Butland an overdue opportunity.

Sunderland

Total spent: £25m
Notable addition: Fabio Borini (Liverpool, £10m)
Notable departure: Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace, £9m)

The Mackems don’t appear to have sufficiently addressed their leaky defence, conceding 13 goals in their five league and cup matches so far this season. The additions of Fabio Borini, Jeremain Lens and Yann M’Vila have at least given Dick Advocaat’s men a previously absent cutting edge.

Swansea City


Total spent:
£15m
Notable signing: Andre Ayew (Marseille, free)
Notable departure: Nathan Dyer (Leicester City, loan)

The Welsh side have been among the shrewdest Premier League operators this summer, picking up high calibre signings with minimal or zero transfer fee attached. Andre Ayew has immediately settled, while Eder provides important backup for on song target man Bafe Gomis.

Tottenham Hotspur

Total spent: £51.3m
Notable addition: Son Heung-Min (Leverkusen, £22m)
Notable departure: Aaron Lennon (Everton, £5.2m)

With Spurs fans crying out for additional fire power, Daniel Levy was only able to conclude deals for support acts and defenders. The club have done well to trim much of the fat from an inflated squad, but may rue the as of yet fruitless pursuit of West Brom’s Saido Berahino.

Watford


Total spent:
£31m
Notable addition: Etienne Capoue (Tottenham, £6m)
Notable departure: None

The most active top-flight team in this transfer window, the Hornets made no less than 15 signings during the summer. On the surface it appears to be a case of quantity over quality, although the likes of Etienne Capoue and Valon Behrami at least have the capacity to supply sufficient ammunition for Troy Deeney and co. to trouble the scorers.

West Bromwich Albion


Total spent:
£33m
Notable signing: Salomon Rondon (Zenit, £12m)
Notable departure: Joleon Lescott (Aston Villa, £1m)

The Baggies have had a successful window, retaining the services of star striker Saido Berahino against his will, while adding real quality in the shape of Salomon Rondon, Johnny Evans and James Chester. Tony Pulis has steered clear of panic deals, upgrading key areas. With Rickie Lambert now on the books, Albion have a mouthwatering three-pronged front-line available if they can get Berahino to stop sulking.

West Ham United


Total spent: £35.6m
Notable addition: Dimitri Payet (Marseille, £10.7m)
Notable departure: Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough, £5m)

A new manager and a dozen additions to the playing staff may seem excessive, but the Hammers needed revolution rather than evolution this term. Multiple deadline day deals so often spells impending disaster, but the quality of players such as Alex Song and Victor Moses can’t be questioned. Dimitri Payet holds the key to unlock any defence in Europe.

Did we nail it? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

John Carver and 10 other terrible EPL managers

John Carver’s reign as full-time Newcastle United boss has thus far proven little short of an unmitigated disaster, achieving the worst sequence for the club in 28 years by losing seven league matches in a row.

John Carver

Carver has previous failures on his CV; his track record was equally inept during his stint in the hot-seat, with just three points yielded from five matches as Leeds United’s interim boss, a similarly short and unsuccessful term at Sheffield United, and a woeful spell at Toronto FC, which ended with the club in the MLS relegation zone and Carver given his marching orders.

Mentioning that he’s a Geordie who worked under the great Sir Bobby Robson in virtually every interview may have been a ploy to garner sympathy from the Tyneside natives, but has in fact had the opposite effect, with the Toon Army soon tiring of JC reminiscing about getting the rub to justify his appointment.

Carver isn’t alone though, here’s a rundown of ten other terrible Premier League managers.

Iain DowieIain Dowie

Dowie has successfully led two teams to the Championship, as well as directly causing the relegation of a third. His top-flight career peaked in the mid-2000’s, as he tried admirably to save Crystal Palace from going straight back down, while at his next job, Dowie hopelessly kept Charlton in the relegation places, despite being given extensive funds, before getting sacked halfway through the 2005/06 season.

At Hull City, Dowie was brought in to keep the Tigers in the top tier, but once again, the former striker could not inspire any sort of survival. These facts speak for themselves and Dowie has to be considered one of the least inspiring Premier League managers ever.

Terry Connor

One in, one out: Terry Connor was out of his depth as a manager.
One in, one out: Terry Connor was out of his depth as a manager.

 

Terry Connor was Wolverhampton Wanderers’ assistant manager when Mick McCarthy was given the boot in February 2012. Despite having zero experience as a senior manager, Wolves entrusted Connor with keeping the club in the Premier League.

The 50 year old, who is back as McCarthy’s assistant at Ipswich Town, took over with the club in 18th position, yet by the end of the season, Wolves were at the bottom of the table. Connor failed to win a single game in his 13 games in charge, leading Wolves to seven consecutive defeats and life in the Championship.

Luiz ScolariLuiz Scolari

Scolari makes the list as he had a talented squad and excessive funds at his disposal; and this is without even mentioning his previous achievements, including a World Cup! His stint with Chelsea was in fact Scolari’s first (and only) job as manager of a European club and this may explain the reason why he didn’t even last until the end of the season.

The Brazilian boss endured a horrid run of form with the Blues and was replaced with interim manager Guus Hiddink in February 2009, who arrived to adjust the error of Scolari’s ways and win the FA Cup.

Les ReedLou Reed

Les Reed holds the record of having the shortest managerial reign in Premier League history, when he left Charlton Athletic by mutual consent, after just 41 days. He is regularly voted as the Addicks’ worst manager of all time and it’s to no surprise.

Reed’s stint of seven games produced one victory, one draw and five defeats, one of which was an embarrassing loss to League Two’s Wycombe Wanderers in the League Cup. He was swiftly replaced by Alan Pardew in December 2006.

Juande Ramos

The first of two former Spurs managers in this list did initially win the hearts of his supporters by clinching the League Cup over Chelsea in 2008. Yet, in his second season in charge, the former Sevilla head coach lost his way in spectacular fashion, amassing 2 points from the opening 8 league games.

That mark remains Tottenham Hotspur’s worst ever start to a Premier League season and an inability to speak English did not help matters for the increasingly forlorn gaffer. Surprisingly Ramos’ next coaching position was at the helm of Real Madrid.

Steve WigleySteve Wigley

Steve Wigley replaced the equally inept Paul Sturrock as full time Southampton manager in August 2004. Many were surprised with Wigley’s appointment as his only previous experience was that of a three year spell of non-league Aldershot Town.

Wigley lasted a total of 14 games, with the Saints’ board realising their mistake and the 51 year old quickly returned to his duties with the club’s youth teams. he managed only one win during his time as manager  but that was against bitter rivals Portsmouth.

Steve KeanSteve Kean

Blackburn Rovers fans reading this will surely be satisfied that bumbling Kean’s torrid Ewood Park tenure has been acknowledged. The Scottish coach miserably led Blackburn to relegation during the 2011-12 season, and somehow managed to evade “Kean out” demands for many months before finally getting the boot in early 2013.

The 45 year old, currently without a job, splashed £8.25m on the exceptional Jordan Rhodes, but still couldn’t inspire the Blue and Whites towards a play-off place, suffering 30 defeats in just 60 games all told. His ignorance to the fans’ calls to resign just beats Paul Ince to a spot in the list.

Jacques SantiniJacques Santini

Who? I hear you ask. Santini is the first of two Spurs managers in this list (and Christian Gross could also have been included). The French manager had worked wonders at Lyon and tried his luck in the Premier League with Tottenham.

However, he only lasted five months in the job and was soon replaced by his assistant, Martin Jol, who went on to do very well. The French boss had a decent record as Spurs manager but announced his resignation after just 13 games.

Alan ShearerAlan Shearer

A harsh choice perhaps, considering that the Geordie legend was afforded only eight matches in charge of his beloved Newcastle United, and inherited a squad choc-full of has-beens, ne’er weres and rotten to the core characters.

It was little wonder then that his final stats in charge read 1 win, 2 draws and 5 defeats, albeit three of those reverses were at the hands of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United respectively. Still, it was 1-0 losses to Fulham and Aston Villa that truly put paid to the club’s survival hopes, as Hull City escaped by a single point.

Brian KiddManchester United

After stints as manager at Barrow and Preston North End, Kidd became an assistant at Manchester United from 1988-98. While there, he learned from one of the all-time greats: United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Did Kidd take what he learned from Ferguson into the head job at Blackburn? Of course not. Instead he got Rovers relegated in 1999 — just four years after they were champions.

The most painful part for Kidd is the knowledge that the stinging words of Sir Alex were swiftly proved accurate. Fergie never forgave Kidd for walking out of United and in his autobiography, he described his erstwhile right-hand man as a worrier who could not evaluate a player and talked behind his back –something which was difficult to deny after Kidd oversaw a host of terrible signings, such as £9m dud-duo Ashley Ward and Jason McAteer.

Agree with our list? Feel that we missed out some truly horrible bosses? Let us know in the comment section below.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier Predictions: Week 8.

Last time out Dom comfortably overcame the might of former UK Gladiator Nightshade, winning by a personal high 10 points to 5. This time he takes on the wit and wisdom of ex-Pop Idol Rik Waller, hoping to make it back-to-back victories.

Rik Waller

*A correct outcome gains one point, an exact result three points. All games kick off at 3pm on Saturday 14th March unless stated.

Crystal Palace vs Queens Park Rangers
Kick-off: 12.45, Saturday

Bobby Zamora

Dom: 2-0
Alan Pardew must be on cloud nine; a few months ago he was being booed by his own fans as Newcastle United manager, now his name is sung from the Selhurst Park terraces, and with good reason. Pards has revitalised his old team, and they’ll slam another nail into the QPR coffin this afternoon.

Rik: 1-1
Hulk Hogan! Now that I have your attention I have a gig next month in collaboration with an Isle of Wight artist called Jonty not Bonty (his real name is Jonty Chodeflap, hence the change!) – with half a dozen people now tolerating his existence, and my three supporters “livin’ it large” we hope to at least account for five of the seats in the Dog and Duck pub in Fratton this time without getting heckled off the stage before we get to our third ballad!

Arsenal vs West Ham United

Dom: 3-1
The Hammers have reverted to last season’s tactics of drilling the ball long at every opportunity, this despite Andy Carroll once again being on the sidelines. Big Sam looks like he’s out of ideas, just as Arsenal’s league form appears to be gaining consistency – wrong time, wrong place for The Irons.

Rik: 10-2
During my last set of night terrors, Nasty Nigel seemed to be barking “ten two, ten two” at me, in hindsight it may have been Auntie Joan leaving a message about the time, oh wait wasn’t I supposed to scrub her shoulders in the tub around that time? Never mind, I’m stuck with the prediction now – just my luck.

Leicester City vs Hull City

Hull City

Dom: 2-2
A draw doesn’t really help either of these basement dwellers, but seems the logical result. The Foxes have played quite well recently, just lacking bite in the final third. Hull are hit and miss; a frustrating 90 minutes at the King Power Stadium will encapsulate their season.

Rik: Abandoned (Bomb Threat.)
All my life I was told what I can’t do; “You can’t sell your teeth to the Science Museum in London Rik”… “You can’t wear a cape to the Job Centre”…  Well screw you mother, I will go for a 6-1 win for the Lancashire Hot Pots, either that or I’ll call in a bomb threat, do we get extra points for that?

Sunderland vs Aston Villa

Dom: 0-1
Spare a thought for the supporters of these two sides, who have been subjected to the ugliest football in the division. Worse still, Black Cats star man Adam Johnson was recently arrested on charges of sex with a minor, meaning he could miss a chunk of games even if found innocent, something that would spell disaster for the Mackems.

Rik: 1-0
With Benteke and Johnson probably sitting this one out both sides are without their main sources of creativity, or at least that’s what I read on Ceefax. Benteke is one funny name though, doesn’t sound like he’s from Aston at all, so come on Sunders.

West Bromwich Albion vs Stoke City

Dom: 2-1
A last gasp defeat to bitter rivals Aston Villa in their previous league encounter dampened some of the enthusiasm surrounding Tony Pulis’ appointment and subsequent upturn in fortunes. No problem, the Baggies will return to winning ways against Stoke, virtually guaranteeing safety in the process.

Rik: 2-5
Stoke have found a second wind lately, I thought I’d found a second wind with the old singing lark recently, but it was just a very tuneful burp. Stokers to win in some good style – go the young’uns!

Burnley vs Manchester City
Saturday, 17.30

Dom: 1-3
Manchester City’s title aspirations are surely dwindling; Chelsea will open up an 8-point lead if they win their game in hand. Burnley are still in the midst of a relegation scrap, with their small squad beginning to wilt in recent weeks. City should romp home.

Rik: 4-0
Man City are getting what they deserve. As I once told Simon Cowell; money can’t buy you everything, certainly not class anyway. City are going to get trounced! Let us make it trend: #cityisbadinfootballl!

Chelsea vs Southampton
Sunday, 13.30

John Terry

Dom: 3-1
The Blues will be gagging to put things right after their embarrassing Champions League exit at the hands of Paris Saint Germain on Wednesday, where their players acted like infants to get Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off. Saints’ form is hit and miss at the moment, so despite their excellent league position they’ll struggle at Stamford Bridge.

Rik: 1-0
I used to know a lad from Southampton, Dave something. Anyway very funny story about Dave; so Dave owned a bicycle and he forgot to tie it up and someone did away with it. The sad thing is that Dave was never the same after that, never really spoke much and always sitting in golf course bunkers with his middle fingers raised defiantly. Funny how everyone knows a Dave right?!

Everton vs Newcastle United
Sunday, 16.00

Dom: 2-0
Everton’s Europa League exertions on Thursday may have offered a pleasant distraction, but their domestic form is cause for concern, with the Toffees sitting only six points above the drop zone. Newcastle have given up on their season (again) and with a dozen injuries and Papiss Cisse’s lengthy ban to boot it’s hard to see where the goals will come from.

Rik: 0-0-1?
0-0 looks like a shocked face when you write it! Or maybe something else like ring doughnuts (num num!) I read the form guide and these two teams are not so good, so no goals for the two teams and maybe just the one for the ball boys or some American tourists. One lump or two? 0-0-1.

Manchester United vs Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday, 16.00

Harry Kane Adebayor

Dom: 2-2
I’m not convinced that either side has a defence worthy of Champions League football, but both possess talented attackers. Spurs’ Harry Kane in particular is fresh from two consecutive player of the month awards. Kane will score again, but Rooney’s due a couple.

Rik: 0-0 5-6
I’m torn between 0-0 and 5-6, they both seem like the obvious outcome when you add up corner kicks and divide them by numbers. Ok, my therapist said be decisive: 5-6. Linekar with 2 and Gazza to cry tears of joy again. As for Cantona, let’s just hope he doesn’t punch all of the fans again!

Swansea vs Liverpool
Monday, 20.00

Dom: 1-2
Swansea’s home form has been decent this term and Liverpool have lost a few away, but where The Reds appear to be getting stronger with each league match, their Welsh counterparts are just bubbling along contentedly in mid-table, and will have no answer to Raheem Sterling’s pace and trickery.

Rik: 3-0 for Anne
Swans in the sea or Liver in a pool? It all sounds eerily familiar to a wonderful meal I had under the stars one evening – my Tinder date ‘Anne’ didn’t show up, but funnily enough there was another Anne with exactly the same face, height, blood type (O Negative, as in “Oh she’s so negative!) and whose phone’s screen saver was the same photo-shopped profile pic I’d used on the app (Jared Leto’s face with Jared Leto’s body and my hair.) 3-0 it is, but only for for Anne.

The Premier Predictions league table is still led by DJ Rees. Dom’s win last time means that he goes level with Damian Clark, as Nightshade brings up the rear.

1. DJ Rees: 11 Points

2. Just Mike: 9

3. True Geordie: 8

4= Damian Clark: 7

4= Dom Kureen: 7 (average)

6. Kelvin West: 6

7. Jonathan O’Shea: 5

8. Nightshade: 5

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier Predictions: Pt.3.

During the previous edition of Premier Predictions, ‘Just Mike’ managed an 8-8 tie with Dom Kureen, with both achieving one exact scoreline and five other correct outcomes.

Mystic Psychic

This time Dom tests his mettle against YouTube royalty ‘The True Geordie’ who uploaded his predictions to the video sharing site. If you enjoy football and don’t mind the occasional cuss word please check out his Youtube channel.

*All matches kick off at 3pm on Saturday unless otherwise stated. 

Burnley vs Southampton

Dom: 1-2
Burnley finally found their Premier League mojo during November, only for a 2-0 defeat at Loftus Road in their previous match to suck them back into the bottom three. A Saints side fresh from a trio of successive defeats to some of the leagues biggest hitters will see a trip to Turf Moor as winnable, but will have to dig deep to earn it.

TG: 1-1

Chelsea vs Hull City

Ben-Arfa: Steve Bruce wishes he'd kept the receipt.
Ben-Arfa: Steve Bruce wishes he’d kept the receipt.

Dom: 4-1
No longer ‘the invincibles’, Chelsea will be keen to return to winning ways after a torrid 2-1 defeat against Newcastle allowed Man City back to within touching distance of the top-flight summit. Hull City can’t buy a win and look void of ideas, they could face a morale sapping afternoon in south London.

TG: 2-0

Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

Dom: 0-1
Two teams who performed well last weekend, it was Stoke who took the headlines with a sensational 3-2 victory against Arsenal, while Palace had to settle for a stalemate at White Hart Lane. In Bojan Krkic, Mark Hughes’ Potters have one of the league’s in form players, expect the little dynamo to shine again.

TG: 1-1

Leicester City vs Manchester City

Hart stopper: Man City custodian has been in superb form this term.
Hart stopper: Man City custodian has been in superb form this term.

Dom: 2-3
The Foxes would love to turn the clock back a couple of months to take a page from their pulsating 5-3 triumph against Man United. The lights have dimmed at the King Power Stadium since then, with a series of lightweight showings leaving them rooted to the foot of the table. City have returned to winning ways both domestically and in Europe; even without Aguero they’ll win by the odd goal in five.

TG: 0-2

Sunderland vs West Ham

Dom: 2-2
Expect free-flowing, direct football at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland have been frustratingly inconsistent all season. Andy Carroll sent out a warning to the rest of the league with his brace of goals and assist battering Swansea last week. The gargantuan Geordie will revel in the inevitable sour reaction he receives, but the Mackems have enough about them to nick a point against the run of play.

TG: 0-2

West Bromwich Albion vs Aston Villa

Dom: 1-1
A derby of sorts between two mid-table teams should be evenly contested. West Brom are tidy enough without inspiration, whilst Villa rely heavily on the over burdened Christian Benteke – the Belgian’s return seeing them halt a run of nine without a win. He might score again at the Hawthorns, but it will only be a point saver this time.

TG: 0-0

Arsenal vs Newcastle United
Saturday, 17.30

Colo: Newcastle captain should be fit to start at the Emirates.
Colo: Newcastle captain should be fit to start at the Emirates.

Dom: 3-0
Arsenal’s walking wounded are only outnumbered in the top-flight by the Magpies’ extensive casualties, so in essence it may come down to who can adapt the better of the two. Arsenal have been ordinary so far this campaign, but will fancy their chances against a Newcastle team who have a pitiful record at the Emirates in recent seasons.

TG: 1-1

Manchester United vs Liverpool
Sunday, 13.30.

Dom: 2-1
A slightly fortuitous win at St Mary’s on Monday continued United’s upward momentum, with the previously maligned Robin Van Persie at his clinical best for his two goals. Liverpool are lacking inspiration sans the injured Sturridge and erstwhile Suarez. They’ll exhibit plenty of pride at Old Trafford, but it won’t be enough to increase their points tally; Rooney and Mata to shine for the home side.

TG: 1-0

Swansea City vs Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday, 16.00

Dom: 1-2
The Swans suffered at the hands of a resurgent Andy Carroll last weekend, fortunately for them Spurs’ strike force currently carries all of the threat of a moribund chihuahua. In Christian Eriksen the visitors do possess a play maker of high calibre, and in Harry Kane a young striker with hefty upside, the pair will combine to earn Pochettino an invaluable three points.

TG: 2-1

Everton vs Queens Park Rangers
Monday, 20.00

Dom: 2-0
With Charlie Austin absent it’s difficult to see where the goals are going to come from in this hoops side, barring a rare wonder-strike from Niko Kranjcar or scuffed tap-in from Bobby Zamora. Romelu Lukaku has been a shadow of his former self since Everton splashed a club record £28m on the forward in the summer. With that in mind expect a brace from the big Belgian.

TG: 1-0

DJ Rees still leads the way with 11 points, can anyone defeat the prince of predictions? Stay tuned to find out!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League Predictions pt.2

Last weekend’s inaugural edition of Premier League Predictions saw Dom Kureen test his psychic powers against former England beach soccer international DJ Rees. It was the sand lurking sharp shooter who prospered, crushing the host’s modest five points with an outstanding three exact results and two other correct outcomes for 11 points of his own. 

The favoured technique for predicting scores this week
The favoured technique for predicting scores this week

This time it’s the turn of a man some say owns the main cottage for cottage cheese distribution, others say he has a tongue made of wax and oat flapjacks – to those who are closest to him he’s ‘Just Mike’.

*All matches: kick off Tuesday, 19.45 unless stated.

Burnley vs Newcastle United

Dom: 0-0
Two sides whose recent winning runs came to an end last weekend. The Toon’s 1-0 reverse at Upton Park was compounded by a slew of suspensions and injuries – their depleted troops might just have enough to repel Danny Ings and co.

Mike: 2-3
With both teams prone to bouts of substandard defending it should be an open game at Turf Moor. Newcastle in particular have a lot of defenders missing, hopefully forcing them onto the front foot to compensate, although in Danny Ings the Clarets have one of the league’s in-form marksmen.

Leicester City vs Liverpool

Dom: 1-3
Glen Johnson’s last gasp winner against Stoke on Saturday dissipated some of the gloom surrounding the Kop. Leicester’s thrilling defeat in a five goal thriller at QPR was the latest in a string of setbacks, with the Foxes in free-fall. Liverpool to click, Leicester to feel sick.

Mike: 0-0
Liverpool’s late winner at the weekend failed to mask the lack of innovative quality currently afflicting the side. The same shortcomings will be highlighted at The King Power Stadium, with Leicester over compensating for the weekend’s goal fest by ‘parking the bus’.

Manchester United vs Stoke City

RVP: Taking more corners so that he can touch the ball more than 11 times in future matches.
RVP: Will he touch the ball more than 11 times tonight?

Dom: 3-1
United are belatedly showing signs of a pulse, with their much maligned back line and the previously out of form Robin Van Persie impressing during a 4-0 blitz against Hull City at the weekend. Stoke are solid and with Bojan beginning to adapt – the Potters seem set for their standard mid-table finish despite defeat here.

Mike: 2-0
It’s probably too late for Manchester United to mount a serious tilt at the Premier League title, but with their collective fire power Old Trafford should welcome back Champions League action next season. Their resurgent form should be enough to see off stubborn Stoke.

Swansea vs Queens Park Rangers

Dom: 2-1
The Swans have been frustrating in recent weeks, their aesthetically gratifying build up play too often lacking a clinical touch in the final third. The Hoops are in a rich vein of form and with Charlie Austin on fire they’ll run their hosts close.

Mike: 3-1
Swansea’s Liberty Stadium points haul is the main reason why they currently sit pretty in the table. A disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Crystal Palace should be remedied by a comfortable victory against Harry Redknapp’s relegation battlers, although Bobby Zamora and Charlie Austin could prove to be a handful.

Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa
Tuesday, 20.00.

Dom: 1-1
Two teams struggling to rise above the league’s nadir, Palace do at least attempt to do more than simply stifle their opponents (Villa’s trademark under Paul Lambert). Expect this to be last on Wednesday’s Match of The Day running order.

Mike: 2-1
This has lack of quality written all over it, although the return of Christian Benteke will afford Aston Villa supporters some cheer during the festive season. Under Neil Warnock Palace have turned Selhurst Park into a difficult arena for visiting teams, that coupled with Villa’s lack of imagination should ensure that the Eagles take the spoils.

West Bromwich Albion vs West Ham United
Tuesday, 20.00

Dom: 2-1
West Brom’s promising start is in danger of going to waste if their current poor run continues. With Saido Berahino in razor sharp form and Andy Carroll yet to open his seasonal account, the Baggies might just squeak by here.

Mike: 1-2
West Ham have reinvented themselves this season, with an eye-catching counter-attacking style to their play. Since the return of Andy Carroll from injury they’ve admittedly resorted to a more direct approach, but with West Brom unable to muster shots on goal at the moment it’s hard to see them avoiding defeat in front of their patient fans.

Arsenal vs Southampton
Wednesday, 19.45

"Fifa 15 had us both fit for three matches in a row.... fake!"
“Fifa 15 had us both fit for three matches in a row…. fake!”

Dom: 2-0
The Gunners have one of the softest centres among Europe’s elite clubs, lacking leadership and a robust element to their spine. A 3-0 thumping at the hands of Manchester City brought high-flying Saints down to earth at the weekend, expect more of the same at the Emirates.

Mike: 4-4
Two teams slowly finding their place in the league come head to head in North London, with Southampton keen to prove they’ve got the staying power to mount a Champions League charge. Expect goals, cards and controversy during a highly charged contest.

Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur
Wednesday, 19.45

Dom: 2-1
A pair of clubs with different lofty aspirations; Chelsea will view anything less than the 2014-15 Premier League crown as anticlimactic, while Spurs know that a top four finish is well within their grasp in this most unpredictable of seasons. The latter’s fragile defence is likely to be exposed at Stamford Bridge, although it will be far from one way traffic.

Mike: 3-0
Jose Mourinho has built a squad with the quality and depth to challenge on all fronts. Tottenham did well to snatch a couple of 2-1 wins against the run of play last month, but will struggle in south London, with Chelsea running out comfortable winners on the night.

Everton vs Hull City
Wednesday, 19.45

Dom: 3-1
Everton gave a decent account of themselves during their 2-1 loss at White Hart Lane on Sunday, and although some of their big hitters are yet to come to the party they should win with something to spare against a Tigers side of diminishing potency and increasing predictability.

Mike: 1-2
Hull started the season with vigour and belief, something that has since been quashed by a combination of half-hearted forward players and unfortunate decisions. Everton remain unconvincing, struggling to juggle Europa League and domestic football, for that reason I’m backing Steve Bruce to return to the Yorkshire with three much needed points.

Sunderland vs Manchester City
Wednesday, 19.45

Aguero - a perfect strike partner for Aguero.
Aguero – a perfect strike partner for Aguero.

Dom: 1-1
The Mackems are a strange bunch, reserving their better performances for elite opposition; evident as they clung on for a goalless draw against Chelsea in their previous match. Man City’s man of the moment, Sergio Aguero, followed his Champions League hat-trick against Bayern with a trio of assists at Southampton, and although he’ll probably net again it will only be enough for a point.

Mike: 2-2
Sunderland will fancy their chances against a City side whose first choice central defensive pair, Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala, are absent, possibly forcing full-back Bacary Sagna to shift into the middle. A 2-2 draw in this fixture was the catalyst for the Black Cats’ great escape last spring, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a repeat of that scoreline here.

So, do you think we nailed it this time? Can anyone overhaul DJ Rees’ 11 point haul? Let us know your thoughts.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League Predictions

In the first round of Premier League predictions, Dom Kureen takes on Tottenham Hotspur fan and former beach soccer star DJ Rees – three points are awarded for an exact result and one point for predicting the correct outcome (all matches kick off Saturday at 3pm unless stated.)

Bet the house: Who will come out on top this week?

West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal
Saturday, 12.45pm.

Dom: 1 – 2
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has received a fan backlash since his troops lost 2-1 to a Manchester United side who only managed a single shot on target last weekend. The pressure will be temporarily alleviated with a narrow victory at the Hawthorns against a frustratingly inconsistent Baggies team.

DJ: 0-1
Early season, early concern for Arsenal, who were unfortunate to suffer defeat against Manchester United last weekend. West Brom too often fail to capitalise on the opportunities they create, having netted just once in their previous three fixtures. Expect Arsenal fans to be kissing Wenger’s feet again by the start of 2015.

Burnley vs Aston Villa

Villa are backed for a narrow away win
Villa are backed for a narrow away win

Dom: 0-1
Two wins on the spin have propelled Burnley from the foot of the table, with Danny Ings in particular catching the eye. Fellow basement dwellers Aston Villa have also improved recently, with two successive stalemates ending a six match losing streak, expect the Midland side’s upward surge to continue at Turf Moor.

DJ: 1-2
Villa secured a hard fought point against Southampton on Monday night and I expect them to prosper at the expense of a Burnley team who have won their previous two matches despite spending the majority of those 180+ minutes on the back foot.

Liverpool vs Stoke City

Dom: 2-1
The Reds are one of a clutch of ‘big’ teams to have made an underwhelming start to the campaign, but a decent result in Europe during mid-week should boost the confidence of fans and players, ensuring they hold on for a nervy three points after battling Stoke grab a 70th minute Victor Moses goal to keep Anfield on tenterhooks.

DJ: 1-0
Liverpool continued their poor form post-Suarez last weekend with a miserable 3-1 defeat at Crystal Palace. To make matters worse for Brendan Rodgers and co, Stoke City are a team who give no merit to reputation, having already taken three points at Man City and Spurs. I’ll take the struggling Scousers to gain temporary respite with a nervy 1-0 win.

Manchester United vs Hull City

Dom: 4-2
Two unpredictable teams face off at Old Trafford, with Manchester United keen to build on last weekend’s Emirates Stadium success. An irresistible attack and world class goalkeeper are undermined by the Red Devils’ woeful back-line. Hatem Ben-Arfa should prosper against this rabble, but United will have too much for Hull in the offensive third.

DJ: 3-1
United’s smash and grab victory last weekend papered over the cracks; exceptional offensive prowess is undermined by a patched up defensive line that regularly owe debts of gratitude to the outstanding David De Gea. Hull impressed in defeat against Spurs, but were undone by the daft dismissal of Gaston Ramirez – they’ll struggle to contain Rooney, Di Maria et al.

Queens Park Rangers vs Leicester City

Harry: Insistence that Joe Cole and Jermain Defoe play every England match irked the FA.
Harry: Plans to sign Jermain Defoe for a 47th time in January.

Dom: 2-0
A 6-pointer already? Early season optimism has evaporated at the (horribly named) King Power Stadium and big money signing Leonardo Ulloa is suffering a Sahara level goal drought. Conversely, fellow Premier League newbies QPR look increasingly at home among the elite – Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora will enjoy facing the Foxes’ sluggish defence.

DJ: 1-1
Two newly promoted sides meet at Loftus Road, having enjoyed very different starts to the campaign. The Foxes got off to a flyer, but have lost their way and Rangers have almost done the opposite. They will probably cancel each other out on the day.

Swansea vs Crystal Palace

Dom: 3-1
Both teams performed well last weekend, but it was Palace with the meatier scalp, having dispatched Liverpool 3-1 at Selhurst Park. The Swans glide through games at home and they shouldn’t have too much trouble continuing that trend on Saturday.

DJ: 2-1
Swansea were labelled as one of the pre-season relegation favourites, only to approach the end of November within touching distance of the top four. Engineering the return of Gylfi Sigurdsson was a transfer master stroke. Palace are the definition of inconsistency, but rarely boring. On this occasion they’ll leave Wales empty handed.

West Ham United vs Newcastle United

Dom: 2-2
Mid-table on paper, both clubs are punching above their weight thus far. Newcastle have won six in a row to ease the early season pressure on boss Alan Pardew. Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan will look forward to facing their former employers – I envision the giant Geordie denying his boyhood favourites the points with his first goals of the season.

DJ: 2-2
Pardew was odds-on to win the sack race just over a month ago, with his side at the foot of the table – it seems infeasible that they now sit in fifth. Diafra Sakho has been a revelation for the Hammers. I can see a goal-fest with a contentious penalty decision supplying the main post-match talking point.

Sunderland vs Chelsea
Saturday, 5.30pm.

Fabregas: Not impressed with the new Chelsea away kit
Fabregas: Not impressed with the new Chelsea away kit

Dom: 1-2
The Mackems are difficult to figure out, with an uninspiring group punctuated by a couple of exciting performers such as Adam Johnson. They’ll dig in, ultimately coming unstuck against the champions elect, with Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and co having the ancient Wes Brown and John O’Shea on toast.

DJ: 0-3
The last time these two sides met Sunderland ended Jose Mourinho’s 77-match unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge. This time the Black Cats have a chance to end Chelsea’s unbeaten start to the season. That won’t happen, with Costa, Hazard and Cesc Fabregas dominating proceedings.

Southampton vs Manchester City
Sunday, 1.30pm

Dom: 1-3
Second meets third in this top of the table clash, Saints having been a revelation so far this term. They’ll finally come unstuck against a City side basking in the glow of Tuesday night’s 3-2 Champions League victory over Bayern Munich, where the white hot Sergio Aguero netted a sublime hat-trick.

DJ: 2-3
Players sold, manager replaced; who would have thought that Southampton would have started the season so well? With the best defensive record in the league who would bet against their run continuing?… Actually I would! City seem to have their mojo back and will win an entertaining encounter by the odd goal in five.

Tottenham Hotspur vs Everton
Sunday, 4pm.

Dom: 1-1
Both Spurs and Everton qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League on Thursday, with plenty of squad players given the chance to shine. The Premier League has been a bit of a damp squib by comparison, with neither team able to sustain any reasonable form. The Toffees are usually chewed up by the 75th minute and that’s about when Spurs wake up. 1-1 with Erik Dier levelling late on.

DJ: 2-1
Tottenham have only won one home game in the league all season (4-0 vs QPR) and often look nervous in front of their own supporters. Everton were the surprise package of 2013-14, but have been patchy so far this time round. Spurs will turn a corner here, with Lukaku grabbing a late consolation for the visitors.

What do you think of our predictions? Check in again after the matches to see if it’s Dom or DJ who wins this round.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Premier League Deadline Day – who needs what?

The Premier League kicked off more than a fortnight ago, with Manchester United’s woeful start forcing them to splurge a British transfer record £59.7m on Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria, one of the stars of the 2014 World Cup.

Other clubs, such as Arsenal and Everton, have embellished their squad with a handful of high-calibre additions, while Newcastle United and Liverpool have been amongst this summer’s most active deal brokers.

How has each club fared during the 2014 summer transfer window? Dom Kureen takes a look at the ins and outs of all 20 top-flight sides.

Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez
Best addition: Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona, £35m)
Notable departure: Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona, £15m)

Last season’s FA Cup winners have operated shrewdly in market this summer, with the marquee signing of attacking maestro Alexis Sanchez adding yet more flair to an already heaving creative hub.

The likes of Matthieu Debuchy (£12m from Newcastle) and Calum Chambers (£16m from Southampton) were probably overpriced additions, although both improve what was, at times, a leaky Gunners back line last term.

What they need: A striker is a must now that Olivier Giroud has gone down for up to five months with a broken leg – Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon would be an excellent addition to Arsene Wenger’s squad.

8/10

Aston Villa
Joe Cole

Best addition: Carlos Sanchez (Elche, £4.8m)
Notable departure: Marc Albrighton (Leicester City, free)

A strange window has seen the Villains snap up veterans Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson and Phillipe Senderos – all of whom are past their best.

On the flip side Paul Lambert has managed to conclude deals for Colombian defensive midfielder Carlos Sanchez Moreno and pacy French full-back Aly Cissokho, both of whom should command regular first-team spots at Villa Park.

What they need: a creative player such as Newcastle’s out of favour Hatem Ben-Arfa would add an air of spontaneity to an ostensibly uninspiring group of players.

5/10

Burnley

Best addition: Matthew Taylor (West Ham, free)
Notable departure: Chris Baird (West Brom, free)

Newly promoted Burnley have been active in the market this summer, adding seven new faces to the ranks without spending more than £1.5m on any of them.

The free acquisition of versatile veteran Matthew Taylor adds a glaze of experience to a youthful setup, although the Clarets still look well short of possessing the quality to stay up.

What they need: Three or four proven Premier League players would be helpful, although with their limited budget that may prove difficult and the pursuit of Watford’s Lewis McGugan isn’t likely to improve early season fortunes drastically should it prove successful.

2/10

Chelsea
Diego Costa

Best addition: Diego Costa (£32.2m, Athletico Madrid)
Notable departure: Romelu Lukaku (£28m, Everton)

A breathless turnaround for the always active Stamford Bridge club has seen the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Frank Lampard, Demba Ba, Ashley Cole, Fernando Torres and David Luiz depart – the latter to Paris Saint-Germain for an astonishing fee of £50m considering the regularity of the Brazilian’s mid-match brain farts.

Diego Costa has started well with goals in each of his first three league matches, and although Cesc Fabregas (£30m from Barcelona) has yet to sparkle, the ex-Arsenal man brings an abundance of pedigree to SW3. The return of ‘wunderkind’ custodian Thibaut Courtois, following a three year loan spell at Athletico Madrid, could prove the most pivotal addition of the lot.

What they need: Jose Mourinho would love to add Raphael Varane to the ranks, although it may take north of £30m to prise the central defender away from current club Real Madrid.

6.5/10

Crystal Palace
Neil Warnock

Best Signing: Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United, loan)
Notable departure: Danny Gabbidon (Released)

The Eagles lost their talismanic leader Tony Pulis this summer, whilst also missing out on most of their top targets, including free-scoring midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, who snubbed a move from Spurs in favour of a return to Swansea City.

Newly appointed gaffer Neil Warnock has more than a whiff of the lower leagues about him, and the whole setup reeks of troubled times ahead – a lot will depend on the success of the returning Wilfried Zaha, with Brede Hangeland and Martin Kelly the only other summer acquisitions of note.

What they need: A time machine to go back three months and draw up a more realistic list of targets, possibly placating Tony Pulis with the new faces that he desperately required.

2/10

Everton
Romelu Lukaku

Best signing: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea, £28m)
Notable departure: None.

Christmas came early for Toffees fans when the club agreed a long-term deal with last season’s loan star, Romelu Lukaku, whose £28m jump from Chelsea almost doubled the club’s previous transfer record.

A less heralded loan deal made permanent was the free transfer of evergreen Gareth Barry from Manchester City – a fine player who fits the ethos at Goodison Park, although the short term signing of Samuel Eto’o may prove one move too many for the experienced forward.

What they need: Another central midfield option would be handy, with Manchester United’s want-away England international Tom Cleverley the subject of tug-of-war between Everton and Aston Villa.

8/10

Hull City
Tom Ince

Best signing: Harry McGuire (Sheffield United, £2.5m)
Notable departure: Shane Long (Southampton, £12m)

Steve Bruce has been a wily operator in pre-season, making Jake Livermore’s loan spell from Tottenham Hotspur permanent for a cool £7m, snapping up brilliant young central defender Harry McGuire from Sheffield United, nabbing the reliable Michael Dawson and stealing Thomas Ince from under the noses of a dozen or more other admirers.

Of the departing players only Shane Long was any great shakes, meaning that Tigers fans can expect another season of progression and some exciting months ahead.

What they need: With Long having headed south, the need for a new partner for Nikola Jelavic has grown more pressing, expect Palermo’s Uruguayan hitman Abel Hernandez to be announced later today.

7/10

Leicester City
Leonardo Ulloa

Best signing: Leonardo Ulloa (Brighton, £7m)
Notable departure: None

The Foxes have shown faith in the majority of the group that brought them success last season, as Nigel Pearson’s men romped to the Championship title to gain promotion to the Premier division with weeks to spare.

Leonardo Ulloa should add some muscle to a lightweight frontline, although at £7m the former Brighton and Hove Albion man is probably a little overpriced. Marc Albrighton and Esteban Cambiasso are two of the better free transfers of the summer.

What they need: One more experienced player could prove invaluable – something that should be addressed by the imminent arrival of Lokomotiv Moscow striker Dame N’Doye.

5/10

Liverpool
Mario Balotelli 2

Best signing: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan, £16m)
Notable departure: Luis Suarez (Barcelona, £65m)

The departure of Luis Suarez hinted at an end to the controversial times at Anfield… and then they decided to sign AC Milan’s wild-eyed forward Mario Balotelli.

The Italian should prove a shrewd investment, likewise Dejan Lovren is a terrific defensive addition and Lazar Markovic has the potential to do well after his big bucks move from Benfica. In contrast Adam Lallana might find the going tough at such a high-profile club.

What they need: Not much. If anything the defence lacks a bit of depth, something that the potential signing of River Plate’s Eder Balanta would resolve.

7/10

Manchester City
Eliaquim Mangala

Best signing: Eliaquim Mangala (Porto, £32m)
Notable departure: Gareth Barry (Everton, free)

A quiet summer by Manchester City’s standards has been more courtesy of FIFA restrictions than design of the club, with the champions punished for a previous breach of financial fair play rules with a budget of ‘only’ £49m net expenditure allowed.

Almost two thirds of that amount was splashed on Porto’s promising centre-half Eliaquim Mangala, who should provide captain Vincent Kompany with a worthy partner. Midfield scrapper Fernando was signed from the same club, while the addition of goalkeeper Willy Caballero from Malaga provides decent competition for Joe Hart.

What they need: With Alvaro Negredo unsettled Manchester City might look to do a swap deal for Athletico Madrid’s creative starlet Koke.

6/10

Manchester United
Angel Di Maria

Best signing: Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid, £59m)
Notable departure: Nemanja Vidic (Inter Milan, free)

Louis Van Gaal arrived at Old Trafford having taken the Netherlands to an impressive third place finish at the World Cup, in theory his presence was intended to create a quick fix for David Moyes’ doomed tenure, in reality it is proving more difficult.

This is despite a massive summer outlay of around £140m, easily the most in the division, and the addition of half a dozen very highly rated players to the roster. There is still a sense that the shiny new Dutch boss has plenty of streamlining to do before the window shuts.

What they need: Clearing out dead wood such as Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Anderson would be progress, as would the expected conclusion of deals for Ajax schemer Daley Blind and long-term target Arturo Vidal from Juventus.

6/10

Newcastle United
Remy Cabella

Best signing: Siem De Jong (Ajax, £6.1m)
Notable departure: Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal, £12m)

Following two painfully reticent previous transfer windows, Newcastle have been busy this summer, capturing nine new players and allowing a slew of second rate performers to depart.

The £14m spent acquiring Remy Cabella from Montpellier and Siem De Jong from Ajax should prove a bargain, although both will take time to settle. One player who has adapted quickly is £5m full-back Darryl Janmaat, recruited from Feyenoord to replace outgoing incumbent Mathieu Debuchy. Jack Colback’s free transfer from arch rivals Sunderland is a genuine coup for the club.

What they need: a 15+ goals a season striker and a pacy centre back are paramount, Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette and Virgil Van Dijk of Celtic are two players who could be the difference between a season of struggle and a top half finish for the Toon.

7/10

Queens Park Rangers
Rio Ferdinand

Best signing: Steven Caulker (Cardiff City, £7m)
Notable departure: Loic Remy (Chelsea, £10.5m)

Harry Redknapp made defence his priority this summer, pairing new signings Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker to add some much needed steel to last season’s play-off winners.

The versatile Mauricio Isla, on loan from Juventus, is a quality utility man and in Leroy Fer and Jordan Mutch the Loftus Road outfit have stoked up their engine room. Losing Loic Remy to Chelsea has severely depleted an already paper thin attack.

What they need: A replacement for Remy is vital to reduce the burden on Charlie Austin. Jordan Rhodes could probably be persuaded to take the step up, although Blackburn Rovers are demanding more than £12m for the Scotland international.

6/10

Southampton
Fraser Forster

Best signing: Fraser Forster (Celtic, £10m)
Notable departure: Adam Lallana (Liverpool, £25m)

The summer started horribly for the Saints, with manager Mauricio Pochettino heading to Spurs and no less than four key players and exciting young defender Callum Chambers all exiting, albeit generally for massively inflated fees.

New manager Ronald Koeman has managed to snap up some nifty talent to alleviate much of the misery from St Mary’s. The most impressive of these are goalkeeper Fraser Forster, Dusan Tadic of FC Twente and £12m hit man Shane Long from West Bromwich Albion.

What they need: A couple more squad players and centre-half would fill some of the gaping holes in the squad. Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld would solve the latter issue and is expected to join on loan today.

5/10

Stoke City
Bojan

Best signing: Bojan Krkic (Barcelona, £6.8m)
Notable departure: None

In typical Stoke City fashion, the club have made a series of solid, dependable signings this summer embellished with a couple of less predictable ones.

Bojan Krkic was once regarded as the next great player from Barcelona’s youth academy and it’s a measure of how far his stock has plummeted that he now joins The Potters with a reputation in need of salvaging. Mame Biram Diouf and Victor Moses perpetually lurch between potential match winners and a state of ineptitude.

What they need: Mark Hughes has publicly stated that he doesn’t wish to add any more players to the squad, looking instead to offload the likes of Wilson Palacios and Jack Butland.

5/10

Sunderland
Jack Rodwell

Best signing: Jack Rodwell (Man City, £10m)
Notable departure: Jack Colback (Newcastle United, free)

The Mackems’ investment in Manchester City’s want-away midfielder Jack Rodwell has paid instant dividends and given the player a new lease of life, with his point salvaging goal against Manchester United serving as testament to that.

The departure of another Jack – Colback – caused consternation amongst Sunderland fans, with the 24 year-old, cheekily nicknamed ‘ginger Pirlo’, heading to arch rivals Newcastle United on a free transfer.

What they need: A quality central defender, with the club strongly linked to Celtic’s Virgil Van Dijk and Athletico Madrid’s (Southampton bound) Toby Aldreweireld.

5/10

Swansea City
Bafe Gomis

Best signing: Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon, free)
Notable departure: Michu (Napoli, loan)

The high flying Swans have attracted some quality players to the club this summer, including Lyon’s livewire forward Bafe Gomis and returning Gylfi Sigurdsson from Tottenham Hotspur.

Perhaps more crucially, they have so far hung on to star men Wilfried Bony and Jonjo Shelvey, despite intensive transfer speculation. Losing both Ben Davies and Michel Vorm to Spurs was disappointing, albeit unavoidable.

What they need: Jet-heeled Marseille winger Andre Ayew would add a sprinkle of dynamism to the Welsh side.

7/10

Tottenham Hotspur
Mauricio Pochettino

Best signing: Mauricio Pochettino (Southampton, £6m)
Notable departure: Michael Dawson (Hull City, £4.5m)

Luring new manager Mauricio Pochettino from Southampton seems to have breathed new life into Tottenham and should provide long-term dividends for the club going forward.

After last season’s wild spending spree, it was inevitable that the business would be a tad less hasty this time around. The likes of Ben Davies and Eric Dier are exceptional prospects and snapping up Sevilla defensive rock Federico Fazio is an astute piece of business.

What they need: Morgan Schneiderlin has been linked with Spurs all summer, although Southampton are for once proving reluctant sellers.

7/10

West Bromwich Albion
Brown Ideye

Best signing: Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev, £10m)
Notable departure: Billy Jones (Sunderland, free)

Eleven new faces should have put plenty of ‘boing’ into the Baggies’ step, only for closer inspection to reveal a dearth of quality among the new faces.

Brown Ideye has all the attributes to be a success in the Premier League, although his mediocre goal scoring feats elsewhere suggest that he might not be one to hang your hat on. Craig Gardner, Chris Baird and the like are solid enough reinforcements. Georgios Samaras lacks the quality to set the division alight.

What they need: Someone with a touch of class in the centre of midfield wouldn’t go amiss. Will Hughes of Derby County has been a long term target of the club.

5/10

West Ham United
Enner Valencia

Best signing: Alex Song (Barcelona, loan)
Notable departure: Joe Cole (Aston Villa, free)

The Hammers pulled off one of the coups of the window 48 hours ago by bringing in Alex Song on loan for a year from Barcelona, although his arrival probably spells the end for Mohamed Diame, who has his sights set on Hull City.

Enner Valencia is another exceptional addition, arriving just in time to cover Andy Carroll’s latest injury setback. Aaron Cresswell and Mauro Zarate are technically gifted players who will hopefully steer ‘big’ Sam away from his usual tactical anti-football.

What they need: Another body at the back. Micah Richards is being strongly linked with a late move to Upton Park from Manchester City, so watch this space.

8/10

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Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.