Massive weekend of Premier League action that will determine Arsenal’s title credentials as Manchester City visit the Emirates on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile over at Anfield, Liverpool host Manchester United at the lunch time kick-off.
SWANSEA CITY v EVERTON 12:45, The Liberty Stadium (Saturday)
Swansea will feel like their season is starting from scratch again, with last week’s disappointing defeat at Villa and the draw with Sunderland in their last home game dampening the euphoria their emphatic opening two wins produced. David Moyes was rightly aggrieved with the officials’ decisions that robbed his Everton side of a victory against Newcastle on Monday night that would’ve put them joint second in the table. The two teams have had near-identical sequences of recent results so it should be interesting.
What to watch out for: The new men. Pablo Hernandez should make his Swansea debut and will want to excite the home fans as much as Kevin Mirallas has those of Everton so far.
Swansea – Vorm; Rangel, Tate, Williams, Davies; Dyer, De Guzman, Britton, Hernandez; Michu; Graham
Everton– Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Mirallas, Osman, Neville, Pienaar; Fellaini; Jelavic
Recent form (League): Swansea – LWWWDL; Everton – DWWWLD
CHELSEA v STOKE CITY 15:00, Stamford Bridge
Roberto Di Matteo will want to put league leaders Chelsea back on the right track after three games without a win in all competitions. 21-year-old Brazilian Oscar was sublime against Juventus on Wednesday night, but may be spared the physicality of a match against Stoke with Juan Mata restored to the lineup in his place. Stoke have drawn every game so far this season and though they will want to end that sequence soon enough, a draw at Chelsea would be most welcome for Tony Pulis considering they’ve lost on each visit since they were promoted in 2007.
What to watch out for: Fernando Torres. Is he the right man to lead Chelsea’s frontline? He started the season well but has sulked a bit in the last couple of games and needs to prove he’s still the player we remember from Liverpool.
Chelsea – Cech; Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Cole; Obi Mikel, Lampard; Moses, Mata, Hazard; Torres
Stoke – Begovic; Shotton, Shawcross, Huth, Wilson; Kightly, Adam, Nzonzi, Etherington; Walters, Crouch
Recent form: Chelsea – LWWWWD; Stoke – LDDDDD
SOUTHAMPTON v ASTON VILLA 15:00, St Mary’s Stadium
Southampton are just the opposition Paul Lambert would want his improving Villa side to come up against on the back of their first league win of the season against Swansea last week. Nigel Adkins’s Saints have lost all four of their games and shipped a whopping 14 goals in the process. A win at home against a side many still expect to be around them in the relegation mix-up is a must in order to restore some confidence to last season’s Championship runners-up.
What to watch out for: After a nightmare start to their return to the top flight Southampton need to tighten up at the back by abandoning the cavalier style that served them well in the Championship. If they can do that a narrow win is not beyond them.
Southampton – Davis; Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Fox; Lallana, Schneiderlin, S Davis; Puncheon, Lambert, Ramirez
Villa – Given; Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj; Ireland, Bannan, El Ahmadi, Holman; Benteke, Bent
Recent form: Southampton – LWLLLL; Villa – DLLLDW
WEST BROMWICH ALBION v READING 15:00, The Hawthorns
West Brom boss Steve Clarke was remarkably measured in his reaction to the petulant challenge of Peter Odemwingie last week, which earned the striker a red card and contributed heavily to their defeat at Fulham. Signs of frustration will likely be more apparent should West Brom start to undo their good start to the season by failing to beat struggling Reading. A convincing home defeat to Spurs last Sunday indicated Brian McDermott’s men are finding life in the top flight a little tricky thus far.
What to watch out for: In the absence of suspended Odemwingie the time could be right for Clarke to start with on-loan teenager Romelu Lukaku, who has looked bright in substitute appearances so far. If he does well it will add a different dimension to the Albion attack.
West Brom – Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Dorrans, Yacob, Mulumbu, Morrison; Lukaku, Long
Reading – McCarthy; Gunter, Gorkss, Pearce, Harte; McCleary, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff; Guthrie; Pogrebnyak
Recent form: West Brom – DLWDWL; Reading – WDLDLL
WEST HAM UNITED v SUNDERLAND 15:00, Upton Park
In contrast to their fellow promoted clubs West Ham haven’t made too shabby a start to the season at all, perhaps a reflection of the experience they possess both in terms of players and manager Sam Allardyce. Sunderland have been steady so far, with three draws out of three, but look a bit further and you find Martin O’Neill has the great concern of his side not winning in their last 12 league outings.
What to watch out for: If Adam Johnson is fit to start it can give Sunderland an attacking impetus that might see them end their winless run. Steven Fletcher is in the mood for goals and West Ham may be caught cold.
West Ham – Jaaskelainen; Demel, Reid, Collins, McCartney; Noble, Diame, Nolan; Vaz Te, Cole, Jarvis
Sunderland – Mignolet; Gardner, Cuellar, O’Shea, Rose; Johnson, Colback, Cattermole, McClean; Sessegnon, Fletcher
Recent form: West Ham – WWWLWD; Sunderland – DLLDDD
WIGAN ATHLETIC v FULHAM 15:00, The DW Stadium
Dimitar Berbatov made an instant impact in Fulham’s demolition of ten-man West Brom last weekend and if he can maintain that level of performance the Cottagers can look forward to another top half finish this season. That said, they’re still the sort of team Wigan will consider beatable at home. Roberto Martinez’s men must win this type of game to avoid a repeat of last season’s reliance on victories over the top six sides.
What to watch out for: Former players often come back to haunt teams and Hugo Rodallega is due a goal. Watch this space…
Wigan – Al Habsi; Ramis, Caldwell, Figueroa; Boyce, McArthur, McCarthy, Beausejour; Kone, Di Santo, Maloney
Fulham – Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff, Sidwell, Baird, Kacaniklic; Berbatov, Rodallega
Recent form: Wigan – WWLWDL; Fulham – WLWLLW
LIVERPOOL v MANCHESTER UNITED 13:30, Anfield (Sunday)
An early season clash between the two most decorated clubs in English football presents the first Liverpool home match since the truth about the Hillsborough tragedy was made public, exonerating fans from blame. It promises to be a hugely emotional occasion which could have both positive and negative implications for Liverpool’s level of performance in this match. United have ominously got back into a winning rhythm since their opening match defeat at Everton, but have failed to win on their last five trips to Anfield, losing four.
What to watch out for: Hopefully a passionate derby as usual, United fans conducting themselves with sensitivity and compassion and an inspired exhibition of football.
Liverpool – Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Kelly; Sahin, Gerrard, Allen; Sterling, Suarez, Borini
Man Utd – Lindegaard; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Carrick, Scholes, Nani; Kagawa; van Persie
Recent form: Liverpool – WLLDLD; Man Utd – WWLWWW
NEWCASTLE UNITED v NORWICH CITY 15:00, The Sports Direct Arena
2012-13 looks like providing the difficult second season syndrome for Norwich, who are still to win in the league under Chris Hughton. Their start to the campaign won’t get any easier in the northeast, with Newcastle aiming to iron-out the flaws of their last home match: a 1-1 draw with Villa. While the Canaries are finding it harder to score goals this season than last: two in their four games; the same can be said for Magpies’ striker Papisse Cisse, who, after going goal-crazy last season has yet to notch this one.
What to watch out for: Open defences. Norwich achieved an excellent draw at Tottenham a few weeks ago and although they’ll find it hard to restrict Newcastle’s attacking advances, they’re capable of creating their own and it could be a decent end-to-end contest.
Newcastle – Krul; Perch, Williamson, S Taylor, Santon; Ben Arfa, Anita, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Cisse, Ba
Norwich – Ruddy; R Martin, Bassong, Barnett, Garrido; Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington; Jackson, Holt
Recent form: Newcastle – LLWLDD; Norwich – DWLDDD
MANCHESTER CITY v ARSENAL 16:00, The Etihad Stadium
Arsene Wenger will be delighted with how his men are playing at the moment, scoring goals for fun at home and away, so it’s a good time to play the champions. The teams enjoyed contrasting fortunes in Europe during the week and City will be stinging from their late defeat in Madrid, having led with only minutes to go. Roberto Mancini’s men will surely have to perform better than they have so far this season to see off the Gunners and will be boosted by Sergio Aguero’s return from injury.
What to watch out for: Spanish Battle: with probably four Spaniards starting the match and all in midfield, it’s likely at least one will have a decisive say in how it turns out. The head-to-head between newcomers Cazorla and Javi Garcia will be especially interesting.
Man City – Hart; Zabaleta, Lescott, Kompany, Clichy; Silva, Y Toure, Javi Garcia, Sinclair; Aguero, Tevez
Arsenal – Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Arteta, Podolski; Cazorla; Gervinho
Recent form: Man City – WWWDWD; Arsenal – DWDDWW
TOTTENHAM HOTSPURS v QUEENS PARK RANGERS 16:00, White Hart Lane
AVB relieved the pressure on him by overseeing his first victory as Tottenham boss last Sunday at Reading. His team created a wealth of scoring chances and enjoyed a greater degree of superiority than the 3-1 scoreline suggested. QPR are starting to look better in possession with the new signings they’ve made but appear to struggle to create genuine goalscoring opportunities and the loss of Andy Johnson to injury won’t help that situation.
What to watch out for: Jermaine Defoe has looked as deadly in front of goal as anyone in the league so far, confident and decisive and hence keeping Emmanuel Adebayor out the team. QPR will struggle to contain him on current form.
Tottenham – Friedel; Walker, Gallas, Vertonghen, Naughton; Sandro, Sigurdsson, Dembele; Lennon, Defoe, Bale
QPR – Julio Cesar; Bosingwa, Ferdinand, Nelson, Traore; Wright-Phillips, Granero, Faurlin, Park; Mackie; Zamora
Recent form: Spurs – DWLDDW; QPR – WLLDLD
Tags: arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Premier League