A very interesting weekend, with most of the focus on the Sunday matches, as Arsenal travel to face the champions Manchester City and Manchester United visit Anfield, playing Liverpool in the Merseyside derby. League leaders Chelsea play on Saturday, hosting the always difficult Stoke City at Stamford Bridge.
Swansea City vs Everton (12:45)
After a fantastic start, it’s been slowing down for Michael Laudrup’s team, showing some defensive problems as they drew 2-2 with Sunderland and lost at Aston Villa 2-0, placing them at fifth place with 7 points. There’s a good chance Pablo Hernandez makes his debut for the side after transferring from Valencia. Everton are off to the same start as Swansea (7 points, ranked a spot below) drew at home against Newcastle last Monday, but were disallowed two goals that should have stood. Nikola Jelavic will be missing due to injury. Looks like a draw to us.
Chelsea vs Stoke City (15:00)
Chelsea haven’t won a match since their 2-0 win over Newcastle, one month ago. It’s been mostly disappointments on the European circuit since then, but they still are the league leaders with 10 points. Stoke, missing Andy Wilkinson for three matches, have begun the season with four draws, including against Manchester City and Arsenal. They’re ranked 12th, but the lack of midfield quality that makes life usually hard for Chelsea means this should be a Blues victory.
Southampton vs Aston Villa (15:00)
The last time these two teams met was back in April 2005, with Villa winning 3-2 at St. Mary’s with goals from Carlton Cole, Nolberto Solano and Steven Davis. Southampton are dead last in the league, losing four of four and conceding 14 goals so far. Villa just won their first match, hoping to continue their undefeated (2 matches) streak. Gaston Ramirez for the Saints and scorer Christian Benteke for Villa should make their first starts for the clubs. A draw or a win for Villa, but we’re feeling Southampton getting their first point.
West Brom vs Reading (15:00)
Both teams are heading into their first ever Premier League clash coming off losses, with Reading still looking for their first win of the season, playing a match less than everyone. Peter Odemwingie will be missing for the home side (red card), which might give either Markus Rosenberg or Romelu Lukaku the chance to start. Alex McCarthy will probably be getting another start at goal instead of the injured Adam Federici, which gives us a feeling that West Brom pick up their third win of the season.
West Ham vs Sunderland (15:00)
Sunderland have drawn their first three matches of the season, hoping that they can recapture the magic of their previous visit to Upton Park, a 3-0 win, helping send the Hammers down to the Championship. West Ham also drew their previous match, 0-0 against Norwich, as Andy Carroll continues to be out. Sunderland will probably be missing both Adam Johnson and Carlos Cuellar. This match screams draw, but defensive problems for the Black Cats might mean West Ham should be considered slight favorites.
Wigan vs Fulham (15:00)
Wigan are looking for their first home win of the season, with only Antolin Alcaraz as a doubtful name in Martinez’ plans. Fulham have lost their two away matches this season to Manchester United and West Ham, but have quite a few injury problems. However, Dimitar Berbatov’s fantastic debut for the side leaves a lot of promise in what should be their first away win of the season against a side that struggles to score goals.
Liverpool vs Manchester United (13:30, Sunday)
It’s been an awful start for Brendan Rodgers with the Reds, but it’s going to be interesting how the crazy 5-3 win over Young Boys in the Europa League boosts his players, not to mention the emotional day at Anfield, the club’s first home match since the release of the Hillsborough panel findings. Alex Ferguson is hoping his players don’t get caught up in the atmosphere, still missing Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney. Feels like a draw, although anything can happen in this one, despite United’s advantage on paper.
Newcastle vs Norwich (15:00, Sunday)
Alan Pardew’s side has yet to win a match since the season opener in August, and now Demba Ba is stirring trouble with the aid of his agent. Papiss Cisse and Cheick Tiote might make a return to the squad. Norwich, still without a win would love to have another draw in a tough away fixture, heading into St. James’ Park without any injury concerns. A rested Newcastle side should mean they’ll find a way to win their first match in over a month.
Manchester City vs Arsenal (16:00, Sunday)
The big match of the weekend along with the Merseyside derby. City have conceded in every match they’ve played this season, including Europe and the Charity Shield, but have won both their home matches, scoring three goals. Samir Nasri will not be playing against his former club, while Sergio Aguero and Joleon Lescott might make their return to the lineup. Arsenal are getting warmed up with wins over Liverpool and Southampton, and will be without between the posts once again, Vito Mannone taking his place. Recent history suggests the gunners don’t do well on their visits to the Etihad, and City have a better team, when it comes down to the main differential.
Tottenham vs QPR (16:00, Sunday)
A one sided London derby should be the case, but Tottenham still haven’t won a home match this season, with the biggest question being who’ll start – Friedel or Hugo Lloris, while Emmanuel Adebayor remains a game time decision. For QPR, who drew with Chelsea last week and hope to continue the trend against superior London sides will be missing quite a few players – Anton Ferdinand (hamstring), Fabio (hamstring), Stephane Mbia (groin) and Armand Traore. Seems like Spurs win for the first time at home this season.