Another terrific weekend of Premier League football awaits us, with another 10 matches to look at. The biggest is the early kick off at the Emirates between Arsenal and Chelsea. Both sides are in form, with just four points separating them in the table, and with home advantage, the Gunners will fancy themselves to inflict a first defeat of the season on their London rivals, and move to within just a point of them at the top.
If the Blues lose, they will still be top until around 7.15pm when the final whistle goes at Old Trafford. By then, Manchester United will have hoped to have kept up their 100 per cent home record after the visit of Tottenham. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have not shown their best form of late, and indeed were considered somewhat fortunate to come away from Anfield with all three points last week, but with Robin Van Persie to call upon, they should get the job done.
The Dutchman has five goals to his name already this season, one more than Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe, who has in fact had more shots on target than any other Premier League player so far. He will be a threat on the break, but the visitors overall have yet to gel under AVB and it is hard to envisage them leaving with even a point.
There are six 3pm kick-offs, including at Carrow Road where Norwich entertain fellow strugglers Liverpool. Both have yet to win any of their five games, and on the evidence so far, the visitors are the more likely to put things right, but don’t bank on it. There will be a minute’s silence before kick-off in honour of former Norwich player and manager John Bond, who died earlier this week.
Champions Manchester City were deservedly held to a draw by Arsenal last week, and ended their involvement with the distraction of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Aston Villa on Tuesday, so can now concentrate on the task of leapfrogging over Fulham at Craven Cottage. Fulham are unbeaten at home and have yet to concede a goal, so will make life tough for City who have yet to post a win on their travels. City have the better squad to call on, but it would be no surprise if this were to end up all square.
Everton have looked the part since beating Manchester United on the opening weekend, and judged by the way that they tore Swansea apart last week, the Toffees will not fear the visit of Southampton, who finally got themselves off the mark by beating Aston Villa convincingly last Saturday. The midweek defeat to Leeds in the Capital One Cup will have done little to dent Everton’s confidence, and as long as they keep a close eye on Saints talisman Lambert, another three points should be on the way.
The good news for Sunderland fans is their side is still unbeaten, but then again they have yet to win a game either. Martin O’Neill’s side face Wigan who will be on a high after scoring four in the midweek Capital One Cup romp over West Ham, and this could easily be yet another draw for home fans to endure.
Reading are propping up the table still, and got no joy from their visit to West Brom last week, despite their efforts. Brian McDermott will demand more graft from his side if they are to stop Newcastle leaving with all three points, while Stoke, still looking for a first win of the season, welcome to the Britannia Stadium a Swansea side that have gone downhill since being early-season pacesetters.
The midlands battle between Aston Villa and West Brom on Sunday presents a good opportunity for the visitors to show that they are top dogs in that neck of the woods. The Baggies sit proudly in fourth place though, and will not want to slip up after all their hard work so far. With wins over both Merseyside outfits, and a deserved late equalizer at Spurs, Steve Clarke’s men are riding high on confidence, and can leave Villa Park with a first away success.
Monday night’s game is the London derby between QPR and West Ham. The hosts are already in trouble second from bottom despite making some decent signings, and desperately need all three points to kick-start their season. The Hammers have yet to win away from Upton Park this term, and indeed have yet to score, so Rangers are the percentage call.