1. How Long Has This Been Going on?
Having served a 3-match ban for jinxing our FA Cup run, The H List previews return just in time to pull HeadHammer Shark back from the brink of an ill-conceived war with the Netherlands.
A chronic lack of preparation and generally slapdash approach are hallmarks of this blog, so I am well equipped to leap straight back into the fray.
2. Call To Arms
My self-imposed hiatus has been partially due to the despondency at seeing ourselves revert to type and come unstuck against the likes of Bolton and ‘Boro.
Sunday’s victory and general display against Man City coupled with Craig Bellamy’s ineffectual performance and injury have reignited my appetite, though not to the extent that I am willing to do any research.
The flirtation of a return to action was sealed with a glance at the fixture list, showing that our next game is against Wigan Athletic, one of the most loathsome teams in the League and one guided by a geometrist’s nightmare with an outrageous nasal defiance of gravity.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that the forces of evil must always be met head-on by average men with ill-prepared commentary.
3. Marvels Of Medicine
Valon Behrami felt great after his oxygen treatment.
Bank-rolled by a convicted price-fixer.
Managed by a rhinal contortionist.
Formerly willing to pay Kevin Kilbane money (actual money) as a professional footballer.
Consider it reasonable to expect visiting sides to clamber through the cratered morass of Flanders fields in the pursuit of a football.
Sold their two most effective players in Wilson Palacios and Emile Heskey during the transfer window.
Brought in Charles N’Zogbia, who graciously headed for the JJB Stadium despite self-claimed interest from AC Milan, Real Madrid and Barack Obama’s inaugural administration.
Continually praised for having an outstanding season, while we are lambasted as an affront to civility who repeatedly flout the Geneva Convention, despite being above Wigan in the league.
Have of late displayed such wastefulness in front of goal as to rival our own David Di Michele.
Their manager recently accused of war crimes (by me) having been linked with blueprints (again, by me) detailing his eerie powers as the precursor to the Death Star’s tractor beam.
Have established themselves as regular Premiership participants, in flagrant contravention of karma and the teachings of all the major religions.
Mido returns to contention after injury and is a man who ranks behind only Kevin Davies and Michael Owen in his cloying habit of scoring against us.
5. Narcoleptic News
Friday provides the latest chapter in the unending saga of our financial malaise.
Chairman Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson’s holding company, Hansa, are due in the Icelandic courts in a bid to delay the appointment of creditors and the potential administration of BG’s assets.
The Board are likely to point to our recent ascent of the League table as evidence of the need for stability for the remainder of the season.
I'm thinking of putting together a bid myself just to end the tedium. I've scraped together €4.60, half a Bounty and a dog-eared copy of Charlotte's Web.
Our record at the JJB Stadium is very good, having lost just once in six visits and emerging victorious on four occasions.
Our singular defeat came last season when none other than genetic aberration Kevin Kilbane beat Rob Green with a looping header just before halftime.
In the first game of this season, we laboured to a 2-1 win at Upton Park. Dean Ashton was briefly revived from his Malted Milk-induced coma to score twice in the first ten minutes.
We then did our utmost to throw the game away, but despite our best efforts, managed to claim all three points.
Physics-meddling fantasist, Steve Bruce said:
"Their fans will go away thinking that Wigan are a decent side."
7. Hope On The Horizon
As has been customary through the ages, we have once again stuttered when confronted with one-dimensional and lesser sides, having failed to capitalise on recent encounters with Bolton and Middlesbrough.
The next clutch of fixtures are similarly fraught with danger: Wigan, West Brom, Blackburn and Sunderland turning what is conceivably a stroll in the park into a mined ravine.
Were we to play to our potential in these games, we could finally banish the not-quite-exorcised-spectre of relegation and look forward to the potential of European competition next season.
8. The Battle For Middle Earth
Valon Behrami was worryingly stretchered off against City with what looked like a very nasty injury. He was due to miss this game through suspension anyway and Mark Noble returns from the sin-bin to stake a claim in midfield.
In the absence of the commendably committed Behrami, I will be interested to see whether Savio gets the nod ahead of Noble, who has been out of sorts recently.
Zola has spoken of his desire to relieve any pressure from the shoulders of the Ugandan-born German international as he is only 19, but if he's good enough, he's old enough and the youngster could be in line for his debut start.
A midfield of Parker, Noble, Collison and Kovac would be unlikely to maintain any threat or incisive supply and so I would like to see our record signing get at least the first 60 minutes.
7. Picture Book
Mark Hughes looks on agog as Steve Bruce marshals the mighty forces of his Angular Hooter™, compelling the flight of the ball to fulfil his evil bidding.