Good morning. Paul Doyle will be online from 12.30pm BST to take part in a live webchat. If you have any questions about this weekend's fixtures in the Premier League, drop them into the comments section below.
The midweek European games produced some memorable encounters, but this weekend's Premier League games should not disappoint. Manchester United travel to Newcastle; Manchester City host Sunderland; and Arsenal meet West Ham in a London derby. Here is the full fixture list for the weekend:
Man City v Sunderland
Chelsea v Norwich
Swansea v Reading
West Brom v QPR
Wigan v Everton
West Ham v Arsenal
Southampton v Fulham
Liverpool v Stoke
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Manchester United
If you have any questions for Paul, drop them into the comments section below.
today's Premier League blog on the ten things we're looking forward to this weekend. Will Peter Crouch score at Anfield and will Sam Allardyce provide another putdown for Arsène Wenger?Paul will be along shortly. In the meantime, here is
Or, if you're au fait with the Premier League, here is Jacob Steinberg on the derbies taking place across Europe this weekend, including Barcelona v Real Madrid, Milan v Internazionale and Marseille v PSG.
Paul Doyle is in the comments section answering your questions:
Hello. Let's dance
Legaff asks: "Will this Belgium side amount to anything? Over the years there have been countless 'golden ages' for national teams who never did anything with it (the most glaring being England not building its team around Scholes, instead relying on the dire 'partnership' of Gerrard & Lampard)."
Belgium are indeed blessed with stacks of excellent players at the moment and all, according to Jan Vertonghen when asked about it by a gathering hacks last week, thanks to pure luck: he reckons the federation and clubs have done nothing in particular to cultivate such a gifted generation. And the act that all of the players came up through different routes (including clubs in France and Holland from their young teens) suggests he's right.
As for their performances so far, attitude has been diabolical on many occasions but there are signs that they are getting themselves together in that respect, even if there is unquestionably still a couple of divas in the team.
The one area where they are not yet great is in the striker positions: the likes of Lukaku, De Bruyn and Mirallas have lots of potential but are not yet deadly enough to finish all the chances they create. Vertonghen said last week they could win the World Cup: doing so may entail replicating France 98 or Spain '12
Legaff asksa about John Terry: "Warrior. Gladiator. Strong. Brave. Liar. Racist. Cunt. Discuss."
Brave? Surely brave would have be owning up pronto to a terrible error, if that is what it was, rather than trying to brazen it out through smoke and bluster.
Definatelynotashark asks: "How much do you hate Trappatoni and who would you replace him with?"
I don't hate Trapattoni: he a very lovable character an many ways and there's no doubt his charisma, vigour and rigour were exactly what Ireland needed after the sadly shambolic Stan Misunderstanding. But that was only the first step and his refusal to take the next one, apparently due to his conviction that Ireland are rubbish, is infuriating.
Ireland are no world beaters, but his belief that they are worse than they are is self-validating, insfoar as it makes them appear worse than they are. If you were to try to set out to make Ireland look as bad as possible, the team and strategy you picked would not be far from Trap's.
Citizenthirdmankane asks: "Chelsea for the Premier League, no?"
Possibly, but, aside from a few players (e.g. Mata, Ivanovic, Cech), they haven't played consistently well this season and have been quite lucky in some of their wins. And it'll be interesting to see how long they can keep getting results without a proper striker. Reckon January can;t come soon enough for Di Matteo.
seb202 asks: "Any chance for Villa this weekend or are Tottenham going to swat them away and go on a roll in the Premier League? Do you think Lambert dropped Bent to try and get a response out of him and improved performances, or do you think they've had a falling out?"
Firstly, I'm not sure what to make of Tottenham yet: they have been excellent in patches and bizarrely listless in others. They sure haven't had many solid 90-minute performances and at times the players look not so much tired as muddled. AVB speaks with great fluency but not always with great clarity: well, in press conferences anyway: if he talks like that in the dressing room I wouldn't be surprised if some players were occasionally confused. But it would be rash to draw any conclusion at so early a stage in his reign: he needs time. And, by the way, I think his handling of the Friedel/Lloris thing has been fine.
I don't know whether Lambert and Bent had a falling out. I do know that, as in much of last season, in the first couple of games of this campaign Villa's midfield found it very hard to get the ball to Bent. Personally it seemed to me that that was because their own lack of imagination: Bent seemed to be making the same runs he always has (including some that were onside!) but just wasn't getting the service. Guess it's easier to get the ball to big Benteke and ultra-fast Aggonlahor, but,as you suggest, neither of them has the finishing prowess of Bent.
I just gave a few examples that sprang to mind. Cole has played consistently well, although I would like to see him attack much more, especially as with Oscar, Hazard & Mata in the side, there is even more onus than before on the full-backs to provide width. His goal against Stoke notwithstanding, Cole has not done this as well as Ivanovic. Defensively, of course, he has still been very good.
Mikel has had a decent season too, although in the first couple of games I was amused at how cavalier he suddenly became, as if the joy of playing with the aforementioned attacking trio suddenly reminded him that in his youth he was a nifty sort too, before Mourinho and the ordeal of the squabble over him between United and Chelsea seemed to cow him.
Carfreewalker asks: "Paul, are Liverpool getting any better? They are playing better football than last year, but surely Rodgers needs to address the individual errors?"
Yes. Because they are at least starting with the right intentions, which Hodgson (although I backed his appointment at the time) and Dalglish didn't. Rodgers has shown the courage of his convictions, both in the way he has set out to play and in the personnel he selects, and Liverpool fans and directors should show similar courage and give him time to bring them to fruition. And a bit more money would surely help too. Although the case of Borini hasn't bolstered his bargaining power much so far...
Ian Patten asks: "Can Sunderland replicate there stunning 3-3 performance from last season at Man city tomorrow?"
Sure they can. I'd even say they could win if I thought they could defend better.
OThilonthehill asks: "Of the two challengers to the Champions League participants this year, do you agree that Everton have a better first 11, and possibly a better squad, than Tottenham?"
It's a close call. Kyle Walker v Tony Hibbert? Hmmn. Certainly Everton have greater cohesion and dynamism than Spurs currently do. Also, Spurs would have been a better team last season if Redknapp has given Pienaar a proper chance. Him on the left with Bale as a marauding full-back (similar to Baines for Everton) would have been top. Vertonghen has shown glimpses of that sort of action recently.
RazzleDazzler asks about the Manchester United midfield: "It has been frustrating for at least the last three seasons seasons, with the problem getting more and more pronounced in terms of impact on performances and trophy prospects. Why is Ferguson not addressing this most obvious of problems?"
I am as mystified as you. Especially as other clubs have bought players for reasonable fees that could have done the job that United so obviously need (Dembélé, Cabaye...)
On the football site there is also the news story about the FA, John Terry and Ashley Cole, as well as an interview with Steve McManaman and James Richardson's review of the European papers.
If you're a boxing fan, check out the Joy of Six.
Thanks for all your questions and comments.