Ed Chamberlin says Rickie Lambert may not start against West Ham
Ed Chamberlin says Rickie Lambert is due a hero's welcome on Sunday, but possibly not a starting spot.
Last Updated: 12/09/13 2:03pm
Now it's time to re-focus on the Premier League and with the transfer window closed, it feels like the season now kicks on for real. We have a fascinating weekend ahead with a load of new faces at clubs and numerous teams with questions to answer.
The Super Sunday cameras will pay a first visit of the season to St Mary's for Southampton against West Ham. Both these teams got their seasons off to flying starts but both have stuttered since.
Rickie Lambert is sure to get a hero's welcome on Sunday afternoon. The Saints' number seven finally seems to be getting the credit he deserves, with people realising he's far more than just a 'target man'.
Lambert can hold the ball up as we saw in the first half in Ukraine but he also has an assured touch and can pick a pass, which he did twice in the build-up to two of the goals at Wembley last week. Matt Le Tissier, who will be our guest on Sunday, has described Lambert as the best passer of a ball at the club since he wore the number seven shirt himself.
Lambert is flying but there's no guarantee he will start against West Ham. After the busy week Lambert has had, I can easily see Mauricio Pochettino going with Dani Osvaldo up front. The experiment of playing Lambert and Osvaldo in a 4-4-2 system at Norwich did not work and the chances are he'll revert back to 4-3-3 with Jay Rodriguez and Adam Lallana either side of the main striker.
Pochettino has tricky decisions all over the field. Rodriguez and Jack Cork were arguably Saints' two best players at the back end of last season, yet both are struggling to get a game.
What is good to see is the core of young English players at the club and there's every chance two English teenagers will start at full-back - Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw. On the opening day, they were the youngest to do so since the Neville brothers in 1995.
From St Mary's, Neville senior and I will head to London to link up with Jamie Carragher as Monday Night Football returns this week. There's bound to be lots of interesting things to look back on from the Premier League weekend with so many new signings in action, notably Mesut Ozil's potential Arsenal debut at Sunderland.
We also have a really good live game as Swansea take on the Premier League's only team with a 100% record, Liverpool. A theme has developed with Liverpool winning all their games 1-0 and Daniel Sturridge becoming the first player in Premier League history to score winning goals in the opening three games of a season.
If he's fit, Sturridge is 6/4 with Sky Bet to score in the game and become just the eighth player in history to score in his team's opening four Premier League games of a season.
We kick off at 7pm on Sky Sports 1.
Most racing fans will want to erase the 2012 St Leger and its winner from their memories but I'm not sure the 2013 edition is one to help to that. It's far from a vintage renewal and lacks a decent 'story' at this stage.
For the Leger winner these days look no further than John Gosden. He has a tremendous recent record in racing's oldest Classic and is looking to win it for the third time in four years and a fifth occasion in total.
Gosden is the master at training a slow developing three-year-old. This year Excess Knowledge is his representative and I can't erase from my memory being at Glorious Goodwood in July and after Excess Knowledge's luckless second in the Gordon Stakes, you'd have expected connections to have been cursing their misfortune.
Not a bit of it. John Gosden was thrilled with the run and his mind was clearly already on Doncaster in September. He excels with a horse of this type.
Excess Knowledge has stamina on both sides of his pedigree and looks every inch a St Leger contender. He looks like a relentless galloper and his trainer this week described Doncaster as the best galloping track in Europe.
Another fancy this week is Biographer in Friday's Mallard Stakes. I fancied this horse to run a big race in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot before he was withdrawn due to the quick ground. This week Biographer could finally get the cut in the ground he needs.
I'm assuming something was wrong at Newbury last time as he was never travelling but before that Biographer shaped like a stayer with a big race in him - granted some ease in the ground.
Last week the quick surface wasn't ideal for the Sky Sports News owned two-year-old On Demand, who nevertheless ran a fine debut at Salisbury. She led until just before the furlong pole and had Alex Hammond and I very excited for a while. Andrew Balding's newcomers always come on a tonne from their debut and On Demand is a horse to keep a close eye on.
Vuelta a Espana
In amongst the football on Saturday, do try and see some of La Vuelta's penultimate stage.
First, because the race is so close and set to go down to the wire. Second, because it is as tough a stage as there is in cycling as the riders tackle cycling's Olympus, L'Angliru.
It's a leg breaker of a climb that you and I would only be able to walk up and it's the finish where infamously in 2002 David Millar protested about its severity by stopping a metre before the line and handed in his race number.
Race leader Vincenzo Nibali showed fallibility in the final Pyrenean stage on Tuesday and any chinks in his armour will be brutally exposed on L'Angliru. Rigoberto Uran is bound to feature heavily as he bids to make amends for the narrow defeat on Tuesday and finish Team Sky's race on a high.
His biggest danger is Joaquim Rodriguez, who yet again is coming good in the third week of a Grand Tour and I'll be backing him to win Saturday's stage on Spain's equivalent of Alpe d'Huez and Mont Ventoux.
L'Angliru will be epic.