|Nu-skool Ultras - don't be messin'|
North London club Arsenal have been having a fruitful time of late under French boss Arsene Wenger. Le gaffer has assembled a team many are calling the cutest in the league, and with the likes of swarthy party liason Carlos Vela, wee-scamp-who-can-handle-himself Jack Wilshere, Mr Handsome Aaron Ramsey and media training's Theo Walcott all looking to break through this season, it's surely only going to get better. I'm predicting a bestselling 2012 calender.
When we talk about the Premier League Aston Villa are always there or thereabouts. The success of new manager Jock McWallace will no doubt depend on his bringing in a bigger-than-Zigic big man to knock down the crosses of the to-be-bought replacement for underage winger Stewart Downing for goals-for-breakfast Twitter legend Darren Bent to finish off, probably with aplomb. Also, since West Ham and Burnley (haha) sailed off, they should be giving it the big one as the sole wearers of the best colour combination in the Premier League.
Blackburn have been in the Premier League for too long and won't bring anything new to it this season.
Last season's Kevin Davies Pop Tart saga was a story that ran and ran and ran. Bolton's limited support will be hoping that it'll be the lads doing the running this season, though with the other day's news that sprightly Korean market-opener Chung-Yong Lee is crocked they might be forced to rely on the cloggers again. Let's hope Davo's in the news for the right reasons this season; fouls committed and eyebrows-at-the-near-post assists.
Uncertainty has reigned at Premier League club Chelsea this preseason since former manager Carlo Ancellotti heeded the wishes of his wantaway left eyebrow, leaving his boss, Russian fuel thief Roman Abramovich, high and dry. Abramovich has delved into the kitty to replace him though, choosing little known Portuguese ginge Luís André de Pina Cabral e Villas-Boas to steer his soldiers back into the big time, and is hoping the opportunity to be part of a three-headed jink monster with Benayoun and Malouda will be too good for Tottenham's frightened child Luka Modric to turn down. Chelsea are a model of good business sense and as such are always up there.
If Premier League prizes were awarded to the team with the manager with the fiercest stare, Everton would be right up there. Surely no amount of glaring is going to turn the Yak into a goal machine though, and that's what these scousers need; goals goals goals. They have subbed out their gorgeous pink away strip, bringing on instead a quite incredible camouflage goalkeeping jersey in a not quite like-for-like swap. Some observers are saying that Tim Howard does a lot of shouting anyway; making him think he's going into a jungle war might push him over the edge.
The big news coming from Craven Cottage, home of every crimin... I mean Australian's favourite team (why is that, by the way? best answer wins a mechanised replica of the excellent Jacko statue) is that Tony Soprano's back in town. He'll be looking to use the football business as a front for his waste management business, whacking opponents with his gruff good nature and giving instructions to leading hitman Bobby Zamora to put two in the back of the goalie's head. "How you shay, bada bing?"
Having already thrown £35 million to Newcastle for the 6ft 3in hooligan Andy Carroll, the £2 million King Kenny Dalglish has spent on Sunderland's Jordan Henderson (haha, it says here it was £20 million but that can't be right..) seems to me further evidence of a one man mission to use American cash to kickstart the flagging economy of the Northeast. I for one applaud him for his solidarity, and also for his unflagging commitment to buying British no matter how high the cost or average the product. Oh, and also for treating top level football in 2011 like it was 1989/90. Where's Rushie?
According to insightful ex-footballer Alan Shearer, City used to be everybody's second favourite team. Now though, since the arrival of hot air-filled aggressively capitalist marketing spanner Garry Cook, they're really putting the heat on frontrunners United in a two horse race to see who can do the most damage to the reputation of the city of Manchester. Good luck with that.
It's difficult to imagine a more likeable group of young men than those on the payroll of Manchester United, current champions of England, if not quite Europe. Mild-mannered Wayne Rooney will once again be staring down the lens of a busy domestic and European campaign, shinning home bicycle kicks from crosses supplied by gentleman of the game Ryan Giggs, or maybe 'Thriller'-era Michael Jackson impersonator and honest pro Nani will be the one falling over to supply the ammunition for wholesome about-to-break-through/in youth star Ravel Morrison. Whichever way you look at it, egomaniacal cod psychologist and fake Socialist 'Sir' Fergie is doing a bang-up job of keeping his lads in check.
News in today that class warrior and Grateful Dead fan Joey Barton has been allowed by popular chairman Mike Ashley to leave on a free transfer. Maybe it had something to do with his controversial tweeted views on the leadership of the Labour Party: "Hate to say it but I struggle with Ed Milliband because of his lisp. Sorry leader of the country cannot have a speech impediment"; "I know its quite arrogant but I've just heard him speaking in commons and cannot abide his haircut or his lisp. Its my opinion end of......"; "Surely there's somebody within the labour that can speak properly and with authority? Obviously he shouldn't be banished just not front man"; "If u like Milliband put the news on and listen to him say "hesitate" and tell me u want him as the face of ur country. Trade unions or not!"; "I'VE NOTHING AGAINST LISPS IN EVERYDAY LIFE JUST AUTHORITARIAN FIGURES HAVING THEM ESPECIALLY ELECTED ONES. LABOUR NO CHANCE NEXT ELECTION"
Norwich town cryer Delia Smith has been out and about to drum up support for her boys' forthcoming campaign back in the big league. "Les'h beee 'avin yoouuuu" the ladette home cook hollers from her customised ice-cream van, tossing out perfect roast potatoes and christmas cake to bewildered passers-by. Her canaries will be going in cautiously this time around, hoping that the Premier League coal mine doesn't gas them to death.
QPR stands for Queens Park Rangers, a London club invented in 2007 by famous Nazi Bernie Ecclestone and Italian sleaze Flavio Briatore. They were almost docked promotion from last year's championship because of their controversial employment of illegal immigrants who were paid in cigs. Now managed by Match of the Day 2's favourite windbag Neil Warnock, i hope they get relegated twice.
The worst joke played on the Premier League is getting a bit old now. Take it back?
Apparently Baby Jet has been told that his career as a rapper is potentially detrimental to his career as a top level footballer. Er, who cares? Have you heard his flow?
Oggy oggy oggy. The first Welsh team to shoot for the Premier League bullseye must be buzzing. Personally, not being interested in non-top tier English football, I'm not sure how these fellows will get on; I'm sure they'll give it a ruddy good go though.
Look at him there, in his Jag with the window down, leaning out telling us who's a "good player, yeah, t'riffic player", talking about how barmy the wages are these days, lamenting all the swearing that goes on at grounds these days when there are kiddies about, getting his pocket picked while buying sweets in Spain, crikey! Cut his head off and you'd read the words 'good egg'* running through him like in a stick of rock. Last season's success stories were Dutch (chill)Master Rafael Van Der Vaart, emotional hardcore fan Gaz Bale, and the deceptively tall Peter Crouch, showing he knows when to put himself about with a couple of early reducers in an insignificant cup tie. This year, if information obtained by hacking into Redknapp's blackberry is anything to go by, the coming transfer window - or maybe just deadline day (like last time, when he discovered something called 'La Liga') - promises to be another rollercoaster ride. What a plonker!
Rolling Stones fan Roy Hodgson has managed sixteen teams in eight countries and speaks five languages. He doesn't speak Scouse though, and this time last year he was in the early stages of developing a thousand-yard stare so haunted that, by the end of 2010, it looked like his bosses were about to ship him off to Switzerland to be put down. Instead they sacked him, and the afterlife's loss is the West Midlands' gain. Joining the gaffer back from the dead is midfielder and former Doors frontman James Morrison, who knows the team couldn't get much higher than last season's 11th place finish.
Premier League team Wigan Athletic are the brainchild of noted moneylover Dave Whelan. Not a lot of people realise they're still in the top division but there they are, leading some of those hawk-eyed commentators who did notice this to question how it happened. Maybe this season their top tier comrades will sort themselves out and get around to doing something about it.
Straight talking Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Mick McCarthy will be hoping Bully will be on target again this season. Without his firepower it might prove a tricky campaign, especially if defensive rock Keith Curle has a recurrence of his well known knee problems.
*or maybe 'fraudster'