For a big match. And before that, an enormous one.
All eyes in the soccer world will look this weekend to that funny little island off the coast of France where people eat their fish and chips in the rain and occasionally spill tea on their knickers. So what have we got?
New Chelsea (3rd) vs. Chelsea (1st). This is a huge game, and don't let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise. Robinho makes his debut against the team that openly pursued him for four months. Chelsea won't have the luxury of calling on Essien (something they'll have to get used to). And after all that dismissive talk about how Citeh aren't really a big club, how fired up do you think the supporters at the City of Manchester Stadium will be? Don't get me wrong: beating the Blues won't make them a big club. But it just might be the first step on the road to greatness. And it will send a huge message to the league. Alternatively, a convincing Chelsea victory will have to solidify their status as early favorites for the title.
Liverpool (2nd) vs. Manchester United (9th). This is one of the five biggest rivalries in football, and one of the largest in sports. Torres and Gerrard should be fit. Berbatov has traded in his lily white for devilish red. In terms of sheer ability, we may see the two best strikers in the league facing off against each other. But as usual, that probably won't be the story. It will be all about Reina and van der Sar, Carragher and Ferdinand, Mascherano and Scholes. It will be about possession, about mistakes, and it will be ugly. There will be blood. There may not be goals. And the Kop will be very, very loud.
I'm going out on a limb and predicting wins for both home teams. Chelsea have slowed after their firecracker start and Citeh must be chomping at the bit to get out on the field and show what they can do. And in the North England showdown, I happen to think United are ripe for the plucking. It's asking a lot of a Liverpool side that look even more lackluster to start the season than usual, but when El Nino is in the equation, things don't seem so impossible. And hey, it's Anfield right? Right?
Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.