Paul Parker

Arshavin a joy to watch

Paul Parker

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PLAYER TO WATCH: Andrei Arshavin

The little
Russian is one of the few players in the Premier League who I would regularly pay
to watch.

He was
magnificent against Porto in midweek and you can be sure that there were
envious looks on Tuesday night from other members of the Big Four who did not
want to take a gamble on him when he was available.

Arsene
Wenger did, despite concerns over his ability to adapt to the rigours of the
Premier League, and it has certainly paid off for the Gunners.

He's got
everything you want from a top class player - he's a thinker, he's creative, he
makes goals and he scores them. Put simply, he's a joy to watch.

Sometimes
he gets accused of being lazy, but he makes things happen with the ball at his
feet and if he doesn't track back all the time, so what? Surely he can be
forgiven.

He has fitted
in brilliantly to English football, and Hull might just be the latest team to
get a closer look at his skills when the Gunners visit this weekend.

MATCH OF THE WEEKEND: Burnley v Wolves

This one's
a real relegation six-pointer that neither team can afford to lose - whoever
does will end the weekend in the bottom three.

For the
victor, three points could well prove crucial in the run-in to the end of the
season and both teams will know that these are the kind of games they have to
win if they are to retain their Premier League status.

Certainly I
expect Burnley to get at Wolves from the off - such is their difficulty in
winning points away from home, games at Turf Moor have now become must-win.

Earlier in
the season, Burnley's home was a fortress but teams have found a way around
them in recent months. Brian Laws needs it to become impenetrable once again -
and fast.

A point is
no use to either side, that would only benefit those teams around them, so we
could well be in store for an open, entertaining game.

UNDER PRESSURE: Rafa Benitez

Another
abject performance against Lille in midweek and once again it will be
interesting to see how Liverpool react in the Premier League.

The
pressure is still mounting on Benitez after his side failed to show me they had
anything different, despite having been publicly berated by Benitez after the
Wigan game.

Benitez is
still talking up his side's chances, as he has done all season, but when will
all the 'improvements' actually deliver results? That must be the question on
the lips of those in the corridors of power at Anfield, who will be aware of
Real Madrid's reported interest in the manager.

Liverpool's
opponents on Monday Portsmouth have nothing left to lose, and that poses an
inherent danger to anyone they face. They are probably producing a better brand
of football than Liverpool at the moment and I fancy them to take something
away from Anfield.

UPSET OF THE WEEKEND: Manchester United v
Fulham

Fulham may
be coming off the back of a disappointing result in Turin, but they are one of
the most stubborn sides in the Premier League and may cause United a few
problems at Old Trafford.

Roy
Hodgson's team are a tough nut to crack both home and away, not least because
of the continuity in their line-up - the manager knows what his best team is
and he likes to play it.

Perhaps
expectations were a little too high going into their Europa League clash with
Juventus following victory over Shakhtar Donetsk, but Fulham head to Old
Trafford in decent enough domestic form and in the knowledge that they have
already got the beating of the champions once before this season.

Last time
the two sides met, at Craven Cottage, Fulham were deserved 3-0 winners and
United know they have another real test on their hands. It's going to be one of
those games where they will have to get their foot in early, score the first
goal and ask questions of the visitors.

But if they
don't start well, and they allow Fulham to get a foothold in the game, there
could be problems.

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