On August 5th, 2010, 33 Chilean miners got stuck in a mine and were down there for 69 days. While their story has been covered in depth, one aspect has not been mentioned anywhere else…Chile is a nation of football fans and these 33 guys have completely missed the first seven matches of the Premier League season. Just for them, here’s a look at the weekend’s fixtures with a Chilean Miner’s view (i.e. what you would have expected had you not seen anything in the last 69 days) weighed up against how the rest of us see the games.
Arsenal v Birmingham
Miners’ View: Arsenal too strong at the Emirates and won’t have any trouble dispatching with a middle of the table team.
Rest of us: Having slipped up at home to West Brom, followed by a loss away at Chelsea, Arsenal will be intent on not suffering three straight league defeats. Birmingham have not started well, however, and lost at home to Everton last time out.
Prediction: Miners will prove to be right and that West Brom game will (unfortunately) be a minor blip on Arsenal’s otherwise formidable home form.
Bolton v Stoke
Miners’ View: Bolton tough to beat at home, Stoke not so good away from the Britannia. Likely to be a narrow home win.
Rest of us: Bolton have played three home league games so far, and drawn all of them. Stoke started poorly, but have won 4 and drawn 1 of their last 5.
Prediction: An inevitable, scrappy, bore draw: 0-0. A game so dull that you’d almost consider going back in the mine rather than sit through it. Almost.
Fulham v Tottenham
Miners’ View: Fulham always good at home, Tottenham now resilient away from home under ‘Arry. A must watch game (even Chileans love Tottenham, in my world view at least)
Rest of us: Van der Vaart has shown he can win any match almost single-handedly, but the rest of the team might be distracted with a trip to the San Siro in midweek to look forward to. Fulham are actually unbeaten thus far this season, but have also only won once.
Prediction: I can’t decide who will win but I feel confident the score line will be 2-1 to somebody.
Man United v West Brom
Miners’ View: West Brom will be cannon fodder for United and will not put up much of a fight in an away game at one of the top four teams. Coule be the sort of game where Rooney is rested, with Berbatov given the chance to impress.
Rest of us: Man Utd’s strike force has been the complete opposite of what you would have expected. Berbatov back to looking more like his old self from his Tottenham days, Rooney struggling with “injuries” and personal issues. West Brom won at Arsenal in their last away game and are level with the team from Woolwich and Spurs for fourth place.
Prediction: United to win, but in a close game.
Newcastle v Wigan
Miners’ View: Last time the Chilean Miners could have watched a Wigan league game, they were thrashed 8-0 by Chelsea. Newcastle, back in the Premier League after a year’s absence, would be an unknown quantity.
Rest of us: We still don’t quite know what to make of Newcastle, winning 6-0 against Villa at home, but then being beaten by Blackpool there. Wigan endured a torrid start to the season, but have been improving since winning at White Hart Lane.
Prediction: Wigan’s recent improvement to come to an end with a heavy defeat
Wolves v West Ham
Miners’ View: Avram Grant coming in should make West Ham much stronger, whereas Wolves were somewhat lucky to survive last season and will likely struggle to repeat that this year.
Rest of us: Both these teams were in the bottom three on August 5th (alphabetically) and neither has managed to move out of there ever since. Other than a home win against Tottenham (there’s a theme here), West Ham have looked worse than ever under Grant.
Prediction: Wolves to win 1-0
Aston Villa v Chelsea
Miners’ View: Martin O’Neill makes Villa a tough fixture, especially at home. Chelsea have struggled there in recent years and will be hard pushed to pick up all three points.
Rest of us: Of course, O’Neill was gone before the season actually started and Chelsea have been on a rampage.
Prediction: Another high scoring win for Chelsea, who’ll got their sole loss (to Man City) out of their system by beating Arsenal in their last game.
Everton v Liverpool
Miners’ View: Roy Hodgson’s appointment seemed to pump new life and belief into Liverpool, if only they could get rid of those pesky American owners. Form book goes out the window for a derby like this though, so anything could happen.
Rest of us: If there’s a group of people who understand what it’s like to be stuck in a deep hole with seemingly no way out, it’s Liverpool fans. Hodgson’s Liverpool have been woeful this season, off the pitch there may be light at the end of the tunnel in getting rid of Hicks & Gillette and to bring in some good old…American owners. The only positive note, Everton have been just as bad thus far.
Prediction: The Everton Blue Sox to win 2-1
Blackpool v Man City
Miners’ View: Blackpool will be the whipping boys of the division, and taking on City’s Billions, this will likely produce a result that is so incredulous they have to type out the number to prove it’s not a mistake…Blackpool 0 Manchester City 13 (Thirteen)
Rest of us: Sitting in the top half, Blackpool have been the Hull of this season, picking up away wins at Anfield and St. James’ Park and the DW Stadium. Man City started slowly, but look like they are forming a more cohesive team now and are up to second in the league.
Prediction: They’ve had some good wins, but Blackpool have also been thrashed a couple of times this season. Add another to that tally here, with City putting at least 4 past them.
Blackburn v Sunderland
Miners’ View: Ewood Park is always a tough place to visit, as is any team managed by Sam Allardyce. Sunderland rely heavily on Darren Bent to score their goals but are no pushover.
Rest of us: Neither side has started the season particularly well and both will be looking for a win here to avoid being drawn into the relegation fight.
Prediction: A rain-soaked 1-1 draw which helps nor hinders either team.
Enjoy the games Chilean Miners! (And everyone else…)