Big Weekend: Prem six-pointer, Lampard, Kiddy, Kulusevski

Ian Watson
It's a big weekend for Frank Lampard, Kidderminster Harriers, Sean Dyche and Roy Hodgson.

It’s FA Cup fourth-round weekend and an Everton bow for Frank Lampard. But arguably the biggest game comes at the bottom of the Premier League.


Game to watch – Burnley v Watford
To many it will seem a shame that perhaps the biggest game of the FA Cup fourth-round weekend is a twice-rescheduled Premier League clash between Burnley and Watford. But that’s where we are at with few really tasty cup ties at the same time as a rescheduled relegation six-pointer.

Watford really need Roy Hodgson to provoke a new manager bounce from his Hornets in his first game in charge. The match that did for Claudio Ranieri was a dispiriting home defeat to Norwich which saw their best player this season sent off and the Canaries score roughly a quarter of their total Premier League goals this season in one half at Vicarage Road.

At least with Hodgson, Watford and everyone else knows what they are getting. With their January recruits, we will have to wait and find out. Only eight clubs in Europe spent more than the Hornets, though there there is not a minute of Premier League experience between the six new arrivals – as Samir showed against Norwich.

There is little doubt what Wout Weghorst will bring to Burnley. For roughly half the fee they received for Chris Wood, Sean Dyche has recruited a 6ft 6in giant to get on the end of whatever the Clarets can hoik towards the Holland striker and Watford’s raw defence.

It almost certainly won’t be pretty, and it might not be entertaining, but it will be intense with bottom place the booby prize for the loser at Turf Moor.


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Manager to watch – Frank Lampard
Deadline day did little to lift the spirits of many clubs in the Premier League but Everton is a much breezier place after the announcement of a new manager and a couple of high-profile signings.

Unfortunately for Lampard, the new boss will have to do without Dele Alli and Donny van de Beek when Brentford come to Goodison Park in the FA Cup fourth round after the pair’s previous bosses used the last round to give them some all-too-rare game time.

So Lampard has to get a tune out of the players who showed little interest in playing for Rafael Benitez, and though the will was present for Duncan Ferguson’s only game as caretaker boss, the quality was still lacking. It wasn’t just Rafa or Big Dunc – the Everton squad, in its various guises, has underperformed for too many managers now.

What can Lampard offer that his predecessors could not? Well, not being Benitez is a start. Beyond that, we have to wait and see. For both Lampard and Everton, their tie-up is a gamble. An FA Cup run would be an easy way to win over his doubters and with 11 winners’ medals between him and new assistant Ashley Cole, at least this is a competition they know how to prosper in.


Team to watch – Kidderminster Harriers
On FA Cup weekend, we are morally obliged to mention the minnows; no side in the fourth round is as wee as Kiddie.

The Harriers host the Hammers in a clash between the third-placed side in National League North and one of the Premier League’s Champions League hopefuls. It’s a dream tie for the hosts – especially manager Russ Penn who said of David Moyes “he would’ve been top of my list for any manager to come down for the day” – but for Moyes, a trip to Aggborough on Saturday lunchtime is an assignment he would doubtless have preferred to have avoided.

Davids Gold and Sullivan will certainly have shuddered upon the draw, having painful experience of losing a cup tie to Kidderminster while owners of Birmingham in 1994. Harriers’ journey that year ended at the hand of West Ham, who did a professional job to win 1-0 on the Kiddie cowfield thanks to Lee Chapman’s goal. The current Hammers, into the Europa League last 16, will have to embrace the occasion in a similar way or risk being bundled out of a competition they have no reason to be sniffy about.


Player to watch – Dejan Kulusevski
Only one of Tottenham’s new signings is likely to line up in Antonio Conte’s side against Brighton on Saturday night, with Rodrigo Bentancur slightly behind Kulusevski in the process of securing a work permit and getting to meet his new teammates.

Kulusevski will have a couple of days training behind him come the weekend and Conte must be tempted to get the Swede straight into the action, given how long he’s waited to work with the attacker.

Conte tried to sign Kulusevski when he was Inter manager but the then-teenager opted to join Juventus instead. There his progress stalled somewhat. The former 2019/20 Serie A best young player has started only five league games for Juve this term, with neither Andrea Pirlo nor Max Allegri seemingly as convinced about Kulusevski as Conte seems to be.

Against Brighton, we could get a hint about what role Conte has in mind for the 21-year-old. Kulusevski can play off the flank or as a No.10 but Conte’s preference for wing-backs means we are likely to see the new boy more centrally.

Kulusevski is one of the few deadline day signings who might feature this weekend. Newcastle aren’t in action and Everton’s pair are cup-tied, while Christian Eriksen won’t be rushed into a Brentford debut at Goodison.


European game to watch – Inter v AC Milan
There are some humdingers on the continent this weekend. In Germany, Bayern face RB Leipzig on Saturday evening, with second-placed Borussia Dortmund hosting third-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday. At a similar time in Spain, Barcelona’s new signings get their fresh starts underway against Atletico Madrid.

But the biggest match in Europe this weekend takes place in Milan, with the derby kicking off at 5pm on Saturday.

Inter, the ‘hosts’ at the San Siro, sit at the top of the Serie A table, four points clear of Napoli and Milan. Moving seven points clear of their housemates may well end the Rossoneri’s realistic title hopes for another year.

It’s a pity that the San Siro will be restricted to half its capacity. And for those watching in England, just hope that nothing interesting happens in the first quarter of an hour since the 3pm blackout rule means we won’t be able to see any of the game until 5:15pm. But as warm-ups go for Burnley v Watford, five-sixths of the Derby della Madonnina will certainly do.


EFL game to watch – Blackburn v Swansea
If you don’t fancy the best of what Italy has to offer on Saturday evening, perhaps you might be tempted by something a little more Championship-y?

Blackburn face Swansea in the EFL’s evening offering, with the two sides heading in contrasting directions.

Rovers occupy one of the automatic promotion spots, while Swansea hover three places above the drop zone, putting Russell Martin under pressure to prioritise substance over style.