What a fantastic weekend of Premier League awaits us, especially on Sunday, but we’ll get to that shortly. First of all, there are six games on Saturday, with the early kick off being the one at the Liberty Stadium between Swansea and Everton. The Swans started the season like an express train, but a surprise 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa last week saw Michael Laudrup’s side relinquish the leadership, and they will be keen to show the fans that was just a hiccup.
However, history is on the side of the visitors, who have never lost to the Welsh side in 15 meetings. No less than 11 of those have resulted in victories for the Toffees, including both fixtures last season, in which David Moyes’ side kept a clean sheet. In addition they have never failed to score at least twice, and even without the injured Nikica Jelovic who is sidelined for a fortnight, they will approach the match with confidence after the crazy Monday match against Newcastle in which they were the moral winners, even if denied all three points on the night.
Chelsea were on the brink of ending the long unbeaten run of Juventus midweek but were pegged back by a class side. Now they entertain Stoke who are a different animal altogether. Tony Pulis will be able to call on Michael Owen to form a ‘little and large’ offensive with Peter Crouch, but the facts are that Chelsea have won each of the last five league meetings at Stamford Bridge, and have yet to be beaten by the Potters in the Premier League.
Fulham appear to be getting their act together judged on last weekend’s win over West Brom, and should be value for at least a point at Wigan where they have drawn five times in their last six visits. The hosts were thrashed by Manchester United last week, but they won’t be the first team to suffer that fate, and will at least be confident of not leaking the same total this time. A draw looks very much on the cards.
The remaining Saturday fixtures appear close calls as well. In truth, Sunderland were clear second best to Liverpool at the Stadium of Light last time, and may mount a rearguard action at Upton Park against West Ham. That may be enough to steal a point. West Brom have beaten both Merseyside clubs on their own patch, but we shall see if the momentum has gone against Reading, while Southampton must shake off the nightmare of that 6-1 drubbing by Arsenal to get something from an improving Aston Villa side.
On to Sunday, and the biggest match in the calendar between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield. Given the recent happenings over the Hillsborough report, this will be a tense occasion, and of course there is the added history of the Suarez-Evra affair. Wayne Rooney may be set to make a surprise return to the United squad as they bid to grab all three points to ensure the pressure is kept on leaders Chelsea, while both Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez will be raring to go after being rested for Thursday’s Europa League trip to Switzerland.
Liverpool have two big questions to answer-can the defence hold firm against a top side, and can they somehow start to find the net. Both answers need to be yes, otherwise they will stay firmly rooted near the relegation zone.
Another fantastic game is set for the Etihad Stadium where Manchester City play host to Arsenal. The Gunners have surprised everyone, even their own fans, by the sudden upsurge in form, and that is in no small part thanks to summer signing Lukas Podolski. City, only just denied by Real Madrid’s late, late show midweek, need to get their feet back on the ground or the Gunners may catch them cold and add another away win to their recent triumph over Montpellier.
The London derby between Tottenham and QPR will not be as tense as last week’s Chelsea game as far as Rangers are concerned, and in a slightly more relaxed mood, they may well pinch a point, while Newcastle, lucky to earn a point at Goodison on Monday night, will not need any four leaf clover surely to see off Norwich.
The Weeks Premiership Football Odds
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