Weekend Preview: Arsenal Back to Winning Ways, & Andy the Answer-Man

What up playas? So I'm checking in from vacation because I love you all so much. Now, if some of you are wondering "Well, if he loves us so much, then why didn't he write up a Weekend Roundup this week and totally ruin my Monday, forcing me into an alcoholic haze from which I awoke shivering in the doorway of an A&P liquor store, waiting impatiently for it to open so that I could procure more of that sweet, sweet, life-giving booze?" And to that I would reply, because I love alcohol more than I love you. That's also why this post will probably be on the short side.

And I love football, and most importantly Arsenal football. After a full-throttle savaging of Wigan on Saturday (4-0), including a brace from the ever-impressive Thomas Vermaelen, the Arsenal kids took on West Bromwich Albion (maybe the most English-sounding team there is) in the Carling Cup. I, like almost all of you, was unable to watch this match because Sky wouldn't release the rights, so I find them Guilty of being assholes.

Unfortunately we're all left with poring over firsthand accounts from the lucky bastards who went to the match. So, Arsenal won 2-0, goals from Sanchez Watt and Carlos Vela, who was making his season debut. By all accounts, the match was even until former Gunner Jerome Thomas did something to Jack Wilshere. Depending on what you read, he slapped, elbowed, punched or mushed Jack in the face, immediately seeing red. I'm going to say that due to the Arsenal media bias, that Jerome Thomas struck him in the face with a fistful of brass knuckles, and that it was covered up by well-placed Baggies supporters.

After that, and after Vela's introduction on the hour, the game was up. Watt put away a deflected Vela shot, and Vela later getting one back on his own. I think every Gooner out there is happy to see Vela return, adding great pace and finishing to our attack, as well as the versatility to play up front and on the wings. I really think the 4-3-3 suits him, and we can all look forward to seeing what more he can add this season.

On to less important things (and by that of course I mean anything not directly relating to Arsenal), Pompey are fucked. No, I'm not referring to their bottom of the table position. They're not getting up from that this season without a large injection of cash. Which isn't likely, seeing as they need 6 million pounds in two-to-three weeks just to stay afloat. This week, new Portsmouth owner Sulaiman al-Fahim retracted his statement of Sept. 14 that the club will have money to spend in the transfer window. Which is probably a good idea. You wouldn't want to bankrupt your club just to sign Bobby Zamora.

A lot of action coming up this weekend. I'll not have time to go over Barney Stinson's picks from last week, but we do have a new, real-life guest star to pick the matches on tap this weekend, Essex boy and fellow Gooner, Andy Bennett. Andy?

Portsmouth v Everton
Pompey have financial problems that are as bad as their on-field problems, which is saying something. Everton have had a rocky start, but are simply a superior side.
Pompey 0-2 Everton

Birmingham v Bolton
Neither team is all that impressive, and Birmingham should get a bit of a boost being at home.
Prediction: Birmingham 1-1 Bolton

Blackburn v Aston Villa
Blackburn are at home, and will most likely kick the crap out of Villa, being an Allardyce side. Villa should still nick a result, but could very well pick up some injuries with the points.
Prediction: Blackburn 1-2 Villa

Liverpool v Hull City
Hull just signed Geovanni to a 2-year extension. Congratulations. They can comfort themselves with that while they're getting mauled at Anfield.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Hull

Stoke City v Man Utd
Stoke's main attack is still the Rory Delap throw-in. United are coming off a 4-3 win in the Manchester Derby. Sorry, Tony Pulis.
Prediction: Stoke 0-2 Man U

Tottenham v Burnley
Much as it pains him to say it, Andy feels Sp*rs have too much for Burnley. Personally, I might pick differently if Burnley were home. But they're not.
Prediction: Spurs 3-1 Burnley

Wigan v Chelsea
Wigan just got stomped by Arsenal last weekend, Chelsea pulled off a 3-0 defeat of Spurs on Sunday. Personally, I think this will be another late escape for the Chavs, but these are Andy's picks.
Prediction: Wigan 0-2 Chelsea

Sunderland v Wolves
Wolves' nightmare start continues as they travel to a very good Sunderland side. Darren Bent is scoring for fun, and Wolves' top striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blakes-Rodhams-Clintons just can't seem to get started.
Prediction: Sunderland 3-1 Wolves

Man City v West Ham
Craig Bellamy marks his return to his former club. One of his former clubs, anyway. City will be missing Adebayor, that c*ntrag, and lest we forget why he's out, here's a reminder. City should still have plenty more than West Ham can contend with.
Prediction: Man City 2-0 Hammers

Finally, we come to a fixture that caused a great many Gooners a great deal of pain, Fulham v Arsenal. Arsene Wenger leads his club and a great contingent of his Red & White Army to Craven Cottage to avenge last season's 1-0 defeat. On the back of wins in the Champions League and the Premier League, Arsenal appear to have sorted much of went wrong in consecutive defeats: 1) They're no longer in Manchester, and 2) no more Mike Dean nor Mark Clattenburg. Fulham have wins against Pompey and Everton, and are still looking to get on the sort of roll that saw them into Europa League this season. A win over Arsenal would certainly do wonders for their confidence, and would seem to be rather damaging to Arsenal as well. Based on current performance, however, Arsenal look as though they have too much for this Fulham side to contend with.

Last season, Arsenal went into this fixture without Cesc Fabregas and many other assorted players due to injuries, and just looked flat. This time around, many Arsenal players who were not available for selection, specifically Andrey Arshavin (fresh from injury) and the inspiring Tomas Rosicky will be back. And let's not forget Eduardo, who was still on the road to recovery during this time last year, but now appears to be fully fit. Wenger has also remarked that Theo could make the squad. All these things considered, this points to an Arsenal win. My prediction: Fulham 0-2 Arsenal.

Plenty to enjoy this weekend, and I hope you do. Kurt says he will have the Gooner shirts with him at Nevada's this Sat., so if you haven't made your orders, give a look at them here and make it happen. I've seen them, and they do look great. You won't regret it. As always, until next time, you stay classy, Gooner nation...

- B, a Gooner.