Weekly football conversation since 2009, with Graham Sibley, Jan Bilton and Terry Duffelen. Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn or your podcatcher of choice.

Weekend Boxset: After the January sales

The transfer window has slammed shut for another four months. Time for the drama to move back on to the pitch.

Seven great matches to take you from Friday to Sunday. It’s the Sound of Football Weekend Boxset.

All times are UK


Premier League: Chelsea v Fulham
20.00 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
It’s hard not to make any kind of comment on Chelsea at the moment without mentioning the eye-watering amounts of money they’ve been spending. In January alone they spent well north of £300 million. Mykhailo Mudryk (£88 million) and world cup star, Enzo Fernandez (£107 million) made up the bulk of this, but the amounts laid out in the summer (£130m between Cucurella and Fofana, to name only a couple) shows that the new owners certainly mean business. What is strange, though, is the lack of any incoming striker. An ageing Aubameyang isn’t going to win you the Champions League, nevermind the Premiership. That said, from what little I’ve seen of Mudryk and Felix, I think they can have a very positive impact on the remainder of Chelsea’s season. Of course, Joao Felix will play no part in this fixture having been sent off in the recent 2-1 loss against tonight’s visitors. A slim win against Palace and a decent, but very very dull, draw at Anfield suggests, with an injection of new blood, the Blues may be turning a corner. A win today could put them into sixth, with the coveted Champions League spots then within striking distance. For their part, Fulham are sitting in a lofty seventh having put together an excellent post-world cup run. However, two narrow losses to the (dirty) Mags and London rivals Tottenham, have brought them down to earth a little, as did the mighty Sunderland who forced them into an unwanted FA Cup replay. They don’t have the best record at the Bridge, but playing a Chelsea side very much in transition is far more favourable than facing them once they’re into their stride. JB


Premier League: Everton v Arsenal
12.30 on BT Sport 1 & Ultimate
When Mishi Batshuayi won’t go near you then you know things are grim. The Belgian striker who epitomises the modern-day journeyman said thanks but no thanks to a deadline day move to Everton, now under new management in the shape of Sean Dyche. In fact none of their intended transfer targets were tempted to Goodison in the January window which speaks ill for a club, who’s supporters have reached the end of their tether. But it’s not all bad. Dyche is a capable coach and the loss of Anthony Gordon notwithstanding, has a squad of players capable of winning enough Premier League matches to steer them clear of the bottom three. That is once this game is done. While I expect the Toffees to put in a decent shift it’s hard to see them getting any change out of the Arse. The best they can hope for is to put in some prep for the forthcoming derby against Liverpool, a week hence. The Gunners had a bit more success on deadline day, signing Italian international regista, Jorginho, from Chelsea. The deep-lying midfielder can only enhance the current squad and will help to shoulder the burden on a relatively small squad. Of the 17 players who have played this season, only 11 have started more than ten games. One of those with single figure starts is Eddie Nketiah who was upgraded from impact player after Gabriel Jesus’ injury and has scored four vital goals to keep his team’s title challenge on track. I’ll finish with a tweet from Ben McAleer “Everton ended an eight-game Premier League winless streak last season with a 2-1 home win over Arsenal. Everton are currently on an eight-game Premier League winless streak.” TD

Premier League: Newcastle United v West Ham United
17.30 on Sky Sports Premier League, Main Event & Ultra
From a personal point of view, tonight’s game between two sides I have little love for, is one to avoid (although I will be watching). It’s a straightforward dislike for David Moyes and his negative, dour approach during his time at my own club driving for one. The other is borne out of what used to be a North-East rivalry which, given the sheer scale of the resources at N*wcastle’s disposal, will never be anything other than one sided from here on in. I do, albeit grudgingly, have to admire what has been achieved by that lot up the road. Instead of the brash, borderline vulgar way in which City began their current incarnation, the vision from those brought in by the Saudi PIF has been one of slow and steady. Indeed, in terms of impact, the biggest signing they made was the supremely talented, if understated, Eddie Howe. In the years to come, when the St James’ dugout could be occupied by any of the world’s finest coaches, I do hope that Howe will still be there, directing his Geordie galácticos. Tonight, though, he’ll be without the influential Bruno Guimarães who begins a three-match suspension after being dismissed in their League Cup semi-final victory over Southampton earlier in the week. Ordinarily, Jonjo Shelvey would slot straight into the vacant slot, but he departed for Forest in the recent transfer window. The same is true of striker Chris Wood, who also left for the East-Midlands club. With Almiron and Wilson enduring something of a quiet spell of late, Joelinton has been picking up the slack. In my view, the best the visitors can hope for is a draw, despite N*wcastle’s selection issues. The (dirty) Mags have yet to lose at home this season, and alongside leaders Arsenal, have been beaten just once in the league this term. By contrast, the Hammers have won just once on the road, and they’re going to get nothing here. Tune in early to watch the usually excellent fan display orchestrated by the Wor Flags group. For further reading, take a look at the Twitter page of NUFC Fans Against Sportswashing, a fan group who offer a critical and intelligent voice against the one-eyed hysteria. JB

Ligue 1: Rennes v Lille
20.00 on BT Sport 3
On this week’s podcast we discussed Brighton’s success in scouting new talent. Terry suggested that it was only a matter of time before teams recognised their approach, which is probably why Rennes managed to get £22 million from Southampton for a player who has only started twice in his sixteen Ligue 1 appearances this season. Kamaldeen Sulemana has great numbers though - actually, ridiculous numbers when it comes to dribbling and take-ons. It also looks like Rennes already have their replacement for him in the shape of seventeen year old Désiré Doué. Already on Dan Ashworth’s radar, he scored and made an assist in the comfortable midweek win over Strasbourg and, to top all that, he then came off to allow his older brother, Guela, a first team debut. Incoming for Rennes in the window was the loan signing of Djed Spence, who impressed in Nottingham Forest’s promotion run last season but has failed to make an impact since his summer move to Tottenham. He’s set to join his Spurs teammate Joe Rodon for this one in an injury hit backline. Portugese defender Tiago Djalo and Canadian striker Jonathan David were both strongly linked with moves to the Premier League but the deadline passed with them remaining at Lille. Top scorer David missed Wednesday’s goalless draw with an in-form Clermont with a hand injury that is expected to keep him out of this game too. Former Manchester United prospect Angel Gomes steps in for him and has already shown what he can do, hitting a 30 yard screamer in the recent Coupe de France victory against Pau. GS


Women’s Super League: Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea
12.30 on BBC Two & iPlayer
With women’s football on its steep upward trajectory, the importance of the transfer window is increasing at the same pace. With a World Cup fast approaching, business was brisk in January with many fringe players at the biggest clubs reassessing their options. Before Serina Weigmann took the role as England head coach, Bethany England was seen as the natural successor to Ellen White as England’s first choice centre forward. She was regularly high in the top scorers chart and in the reckoning for Player of the Year awards. That was until 2020 when Chelsea signed two of the best strikers in the world: Sam Kerr and Pernile Harder, and followed with the 2021 signing of Lauren James. Having got zero minutes at the Euros, this season England was an unused sub in four of Chelsea’s six Champions League group games and had just two goals to her name - a total she’s already achieved in just three games since her big money move to Tottenham. Together with Japanese midfielder Mana Iwabuchi, on loan from Arsenal, they have the task of reigniting Tottenham’s faltering season. They’re on a run of five straight WSL defeats in which they’ve scored just once (England getting that goal, of course). In stark contrast to their male counterparts, Chelsea brought in no new players in this window. Though with the players they have it can be argued they didn’t need to. GS

Bundesliga: Wolfsburg v Bayern
16.30 on Sky Sports Football
It looks like this game is happening a fortnight too late. Last Friday, when looking ahead to this weekend’s fixtures I looked at this game and thought it had the makings of a classic. Bayern were winless since the winter break and Wolfsburg were in great form and full of goals. Die Wolfe had a shaky start to the season before going on an unbeaten run of 11 games, the last six of which were wins. Niko Kovac’s men scored six against high-flying Freiburg on the restart of the season and subsequently five against Hertha. Surely to Betsy, I thought, Wolfsburg were the team to beat Bayern after their run of 1-1 draws. But then, last weekend, Werder Bremen happened. That 2-1 defeat was then followed by a 3-1 loss to Union Berlin in the Cup on Tuesday. Now I’m not so sure, especially in view of the fact Bayern’s winless run came to an emphatic end with a 4-0 win in the cup on Wednesday. Deadline day signing, João Cancelo made his debut in this game. His exquisite cross set up Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting who scored his team’s opener with a sublime volley at a tight angle. It’s true that league form can go out of the window in the Cup, but the Bundesliga champions were ruthless against a very well organised Mainz team, and that bodes ill for Wolfsburg. TD

Serie A: Inter v Milan
19.45 on BT Sport 1 & Ultimate
After the Derby D’Italia the Derby della Madonnina is the probably most hotly anticipated fixture in the Italian calendar and will hopefully continue a streak of dynamite Serie A games held on Sunday evenings. Milan badly need to kick-start the second half of their season after an alarming drop in form. Since the start of the year the Rossoneri have struggled with just the one win against Salernitana when the season reopened and only two draws since. The current Serie A champions are out of the Coppa Italia at the hands of Torino and have conceded nine goals in the last two league games. The ultimate indignity came at the hands of Inter, in the Supercoppa two weeks ago which they lost 3-0. But this game allows an opportunity to seize control of the narrative, should they win. That said, history is not kind to Milan in this derby, having only won once in seven encounters at the San Siro when occupying the home team dressing room, although that was the most recent match. A recent 1-0 defeat to Empoli aside, Inter are good value for their second place and could be the team to capitalise should Napoli implode. Indeed, Simone Inzaghi’s team are the only side to beat the champions elect, this league season. The Nerazzurri also overcame a dogged Atalanta side on Tuesday to continue their defence of the Coppa Italia. Derbies by their nature are chaotic and can throw up surprises but Milan will need to bring all the chaos to overcome their rivals. You love to see it. TD

Whatever you watch, have a great weekend.

Terry, Graham and Jan

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