the weekend: Southampton v Portsmouth
This is a
fascinating encounter, and one which Southampton fans will use to get right in
the faces of their local rivals.
suffered the ignominy of dropping down the divisions after a financial meltdown
of their own, Saints fans know better than most what their bitter enemies are
going through at the moment. Just don't expect them to have any sympathy.
This is one
of the fiercest of English derbies, yet considering the clubs' various stints
in the lower divisions over the years, it is far from the most high profile.
is no doubting what it means to both sets of fans, who are sure to generate an
electric atmosphere at St Mary's on Saturday. Let's just hope that the players
also understand what this game is about - there were not many of them around
the last time they met back in 2005.
in the FA Cup - or any derby for that matter - it's anyone's game, although I
just feel that Pompey will be too strong, despite their recent plight. Southampton
are hardly flying high themselves, after all.
it before, but Avram Grant's side are not playing that badly and they do not
deserve to be propping up the rest of the Premier League. There are worse teams
out there. They just lack a goalscorer.
victory over the Saints and a good Cup run this year will have absolutely no
bearing on the future of the club. That will instead be decided in the courts.
And it is a crying shame when focus is shifted from the players and the
football they play to events off the pitch.
to watch: Wayne Bridge
pressure is on Manchester City's Wayne Bridge against Stoke this weekend,
through no fault of his own.
He is going
to be scrutinised like never before and as we saw last weekend, he may even be
on the receiving end of some terrace abuse. Fans love to exploit weaknesses and
at the moment Bridge's is there for all to see.
be looking for any slight sign of a crack in his game for an indication as to
how he has been affected by the whole John Terry affair and the latest news
that the pair may even line up alongside each other for the England friendly
against Egypt next month.
expect Bridge to react in the way he plays his game - quietly and efficiently.
What he cannot afford to do is approach the game tentatively. Then he will not
go looking for the ball and he will be scared to make a tackle for fear of
putting in a poor challenge. Then when he does get the ball, mistakes are
He has to
forget the crowd and the press reaction in the morning, and concentrate on
impressing his new manager, who still does not really know Bridge as a player.
As long as he focuses on the talent that won him his previous England caps and
his subsequent move to City, he will be okay.
the weekend: Crystal Palace v Aston Villa
potential upset this weekend, look no further than Selhurst Park where a club
in the lower reaches of the Championship meets a club with aspirations of
getting into the Champions League.
is financially embattled and has had points deducted this season after entering
administration. They have since been forced to sell one of their better players
and now find themselves a single point above the relegation zone.
are playing well and their league position is unrepresentative of their form.
meanwhile are inconsistent and struggle to score goals. They also seem unable
to win games when they really have to and considering Selhurst Park is one of
the most uninspiring grounds in the world and Villa are going to find it
O'Neill's side could easily end up with egg on their face. This is,
after all, the FA Cup.