By Andrew Robinson | Premier League
While we were all watching the likes of Argentina in Sweden, Denmark travelling to Macedonia and Mexico taking on Jamaica at home this week, Premier League managers were counting up the air miles their players clocked up ahead of a crucial weekend in domestic football.
Some of the longest trips this week were taken by Mexican and US internationals who travelled to central America to take part in World Cup qualifiers – none of these namby pamby friendlies for them.
Everton’s Tim Howard, Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan, Tottenham’s Clint Dempsey and Stoke’s Geoff Cameron all flew to Honduras to take on a team containing Wigan’s Maynor Figueroa and Roger Espinoza.
That’s a round trip of over 10,000 miles for those players, with Premier League games coming up on Saturday afternoon. Dempsey, who scored in the US’ 2-1 loss, will most likely be in Spurs’ side to take on Newcastle in the 12:45 kick off.
Tottenham are 4/6 favourites with Paddy Power to beat a resurgent Newcastle side and if you think Dempsey can shake of the jet lag and put in a performance he’s 6/1 to open the scoring, as he did in Honduras.
Roberto Martinez will be hoping Figueroa and Espinoza recover well from the trip as they will be needed in what will be a defensive display at Stamford Bridge. The Latics are 4/1 to pull off a draw and 8/1 for the win.
With Rafa Benitez in charge and Demba Ba struggling to overcome the kick to the head he took from former teammate Fabricio Coloccini anything could happen.
Mexico’s 0-0 draw with Jamaica included four Premier League players, with Javier Hernandez, Jobi Mcanuff, Garath McCleary and Adrian Mariappa all making the almost 12,000 mile round trip.
With Reading facing a tough trip to what will undoubtedly be a wet and windy Stoke this weekend, the travel could have an impact. They will be looking to continue their good run which has seen them pick up results against Newcastle, West Brom, Chelsea and Sunderland.
They have been on fire in the dying moments of games recently and are 3/1 to pick up a win against Tony Pulis’ men. But, with so many players coming back from international duty, they may run out of legs in the final few minutes, perfect time for Stoke to bag a win at 10/11.
A host of players will also be returning to the Premier League this week after being knocked out of the African Cup of Nations. The Toure brothers, Samba Diakite, Emmanuel Adebayor and Gervinho are all available again and could be vital to securing wins for their clubs.
Yaya and Kolo Toure will be available for selection again as Manchester City prepare to take on Southampton at St Mary’s. The Premier League new-boys gave the champions a fright on the first weekend of the season and will be looking to go one better this weekend.
They are 9/2 to overcome the power and pace of a City side with the Toure brothers back in the mix, while a City win is on offer at 8/13 with Paddy Power.