Robert Van Der Does previews the weekends Premier League action with some tasty ties including, Chelsea’s visit to the Emirates to play in-form Arsenal, and Tottenham travelling to Old Trafford in search of a first win their since 1989. Also, East meets West on Monday night as QPR take on West Ham in the London derby.
ARSENAL v CHELSEA 12:45, The Emirates (Saturday)
The creativity on show and the intricate passing these two sides are capable of should, in theory, produce a veritable sizzler of a lunchtime London derby. On the other hand, both sides have been quite stingy; equals at the top of the ‘least goals conceded’ chart with two each. This has been particularly noteworthy in the case of Arsenal since it contrasts so starkly with their start to last season and coincides with the introduction of legendary defender Steve Bould as Arsene Wenger’s assistant.
What to watch out for: A cagey affair may well ensue. Both teams hit six in the week so they’ll probably play it conservative rather than risk leaving themselves open. It’s worth considering that last season’s fixture finished 0-0, although the game at Stamford Bridge ended up 5-3 to Arsenal!
Arsenal – Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaby, Arteta, Podolski; Cazorla; Gervinho
Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic, David Luiz, Terry, Cole; Obi Mikel, Ramires; Oscar, Mata, Hazard; Torres
Recent form (League): Arsenal – WDDWWD; Chelsea – WWWWDW
EVERTON v SOUTHAMPTON 15:00, Goodison Park
Everton had a setback midweek with their exit from the Capital One Cup at the hands of Leeds, but it shouldn’t discourage them too much bearing in mind the number of chances they created in blowing Swansea away last week. Southampton recorded an emphatic win of their own, despite going behind against Villa, and should feel the benefit of the freedom that first win allows them in future games.
What to watch out for: Southampton only seem to be able to play one way under Nigel Adkins and their positive approach will not be expected to keep Everton out at the moment. Expect goals for both sides, but the Merseysiders to gain the upper hand.
Everton– Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Mirallas, Osman, Neville, Pienaar; Fellaini; Anichebe
Southampton – Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox; Lallana, Schneiderlin, S Davis; Puncheon, Lambert, Ramirez
Recent form: Everton – WWWLDW; Southampton – WLLLLW
FULHAM v MANCHESTER CITY 15:00, Craven Cottage
Fulham seem to have the bit between their teeth at the moment so now is as good a time as any to be playing Manchester City, especially following the latter’s shock home defeat to Villa in the League Cup on Tuesday. Moreover, City have actually gone four games without a win in all competitions and even in those they have won Mancini’s men have not looked as irresistible as they did this time last year. Having played two hours in that Villa defeat Carlos Tevez is likely to be rested.
What to watch out for: Fulham are strong at home and playing with confidence. They held City in the corresponding fixture last season, coming back from 2-0 down, and can do it again.
Fulham – Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Kakaniklic; Berbatov, Rodallega
Man City – Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy; Silva, Y Toure, Javi Garcia, Sinclair; Aguero, Dzeko
Recent form: Fulham – LWLLWW; Man City – WWDWDD
NORWICH CITY v LIVERPOOL 15:00, Carrow Road
A comeback from a goal behind to win at West Brom in the League Cup on Wednesday evening should have done wonders in restoring confidence amongst the Liverpool squad after consecutive crushing home defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United. Brendan Rodgers desperately needs a Premier League win to ensure the points deficit to the Red’s top six rivals doesn’t become already too big to make up.
Chris Hughton is also looking for his first league win as Norwich manager, but the Canaries are simply finding it hard to create good chances.
What to watch out for: Liverpool’s youthful attacking options. Raheem Sterling has become a first teamer under Rodgers,16-year-old Jerome Sinclair made his debut with a midweek League Cup substitute appearance, and Spaniard Suso came on against Manchester United last week and grasped his chance by playing a big part in Liverpool going ahead.
Norwich – Ruddy; R Martin, Turner, Barnett, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington; Jackson, Holt
Liverpool – Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Sahin, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling, Suarez, Borini
Recent form: Norwich – WLDDDL; Liverpool – LLDLDL
READING v NEWCASTLE UNITED 15:00, The Madejski Stadium
A late Capital One Cup win for bottom-of-the-league Reading at QPR on Wednesday will have restored the belief in Brian McDermott’s men that they can beat Premier League opposition. Newcastle’s hopes of scaling the heights they reached last season rest on the goalscoring form of their Senegalese strikeforce, so Alan Pardew will be delighted Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba are starting to look sharp again, with a goal apiece in their last two matches.
What to watch out for: Pavel Pogrebnyak has looked capable of scoring goals and being a handful to the best of defences during his short time with Fulham and so far with Reading. He’ll score goals if Reading can supply him.
Reading – McCarthy; Gunter, Gorkss, Pearce, Harte; McCleary, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak
Newcastle – Harper; Perch, Coloccini, S Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Cisse, Ba
Recent form: Reading – DLDLLL; Newcastle – LWLDDW
STOKE CITY v SWANSEA CITY 15:00, The Britannia Stadium
Tony Pulis was frustrated after his Stoke team pushed Chelsea all the way last weekend before succumbing to a late defeat that broke up their run of consecutive draws. It was a clash of football styles for sure and we can expect more of the same when Swansea roll into the Potteries. A heavy home defeat to Everton proved the Swans are not nearly as obdurate as Stoke, but of more concern to Michael Laudrup is that the passing game that has served them well seems less effective with the departure of Joe Allen.
What to watch out for: Michael Owen might or might not be given his first start for Stoke, but whatever, expect him to get longer than he’s been given thus far and have an influence on the result.
Stoke – Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Whelan, Adam, Nzonzi, Kightly; Walters, Crouch
Swansea – Vorm; Rangel, Chico Flores, Williams, Davies; Dyer, De Guzman, Britton, Hernandez; Michu; Graham
Recent form: Stoke – DDDDDL; Swansea – WWWDLL
SUNDERLAND v WIGAN ATHLETIC 15:00, The Stadium of Light
Steven Fletcher is already looking a contender for signing of the season with four goals for Sunderland since his late Summer move from Wolves. If the Black Cats are to finally break their 13-game winless league run then surely the Scotsman will have a lot to do with it. Wigan’s problems seem pretty much the same as always: wasteful in front of goal and too easy to score against; a recipe for disaster. Roberto Martinez needs to get his team performing at their top level more often.
What to watch out for: Wigan at home represents as good an opportunity as Sunderland will get to break their mounting run of games without a win, which I expect them to do if Martin O’Neill ensures his team are fully focused ahead of this match.
Sunderland – Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Larsson, Colback, Cattermole, McClean; Sessegnon, Fletcher
Wigan – Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Kone, Di Santo, Maloney
Recent form: Sunderland – LLDDDD; Wigan – WLWDLL
MANCHESTER UNITED v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 17:30, Old Trafford
Andre Villas Boas switched his Tottenham team’s formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 during half-time of their home game with QPR last Sunday and it paid dividends, enabling them to come from behind to win 2-1. Deploying that system at United would perhaps be naïve as it would virtually guarantee United control of the crucial midfield area. Wayne Rooney marked his return from injury with a lively performance in the League Cup win over Newcastle on Wednesday and may restart a potentially deadly partnership with Robin Van Persie.
What to watch out for: Is this the year Spurs finally end their dreadful run of results against United, which includes not winning at Old Trafford since 1989? They’ve not been playing much worse than Sir Alex Ferguson’s men but United have this useful habit of winning while looking under-par and against a transitioning Spurs will just edge it again.
Man Utd – Lindegaard; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Kagawa; van Persie, Rooney
Tottenham – Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton; Sandro, Sigurdsson, Dembele; Lennon, Defoe, Bale
Recent form: Man Utd – WLWWWW; Spurs – WLDDWW
ASTON VILLA v WEST BROMWICH ALBION 16:00, Villa Park (Sunday)
Villa have had an extremely Jekyll and Hyde couple of weeks: achieving their first league win at home to Swansea, then leading Southampton before finishing 4-1 losers, and then beating millionnaires Manchester City on their own patch in the League Cup by four goals to two after extra time. You can bet however that Paul Lambert would even trade that City win for three points in this West Midlands derby against high-flying West Brom. Steve Clarke’s Baggies would love a repeat of last season’s 2-1 win at Villa Park but were well beaten at Fulham in their last away game.
What to watch out for: As the sole remaining top flight West Midlands derby it has taken on an even deeper resonance for fans of the two clubs and we should expect that to be reflected in the intensity of the players’ performances.
Villa – Guzan; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj; Holman, Bannan, El Ahmadi, Agbonlahor; Benteke, Bent
West Brom – Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Popov; Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Morrison; Lukaku, Long
Recent form: Villa – LLLDWL; West Brom – LWDWLW
QUEENS PARK RANGERS v WEST HAM UNITED 20:00, Loftus Road (Monday)
A third London derby on the bounce for QPR, who have shown gradual signs of improvement since their opening day thrashing at home to Swansea. West Ham have been very steady on their return to the top flight, but the going-over they received from Wigan in the League Cup on Wednesday might point the way to signs of weakness that Mark Hughes will be eager to exploit.
What to watch out for: If QPR can build on the positive aspects of their games with Chelsea and Spurs you’d fancy them to get their first win of the season. The additions of Esteban Granero and Park-Ji-sung have provided greater midfield quality and Bobby Zamora ought to thrive on it.
QPR – Julio Cesar; Dyer, Onuoha, Nelson, Hill; Mackie, Granero, Faurlin, Park; Wright-Phillips; Zamora
West Ham – Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, O’Brien; Diame, Nolan, Noble; Vaz Te, Cole, Jarvis
Recent form: QPR – LLDLDL; West Ham – WWLWDD
Tags: arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Premier League, Spurs