KEVIN O’BRIEN previews the weekend's action across channel in the Premier League
Manchester United vs. Manchester City
Old Trafford is set for the first Manchester derby of the season when Louis Van Gaal’s Manchester United takes on Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City. Anthony Martial rescued a point for the Red Devils in Europe during the week but they are off the back of an impressive 3-0 away win at Everton.
Meanwhile, City go into this game in a good run of form having won their last four in all competitions including a win over Sevilla in the Champions League, which saw Kevin De Bruyne score his fifth goal in eight games. However they will be without midfield maestro David Silva and their top goal scorer Sergio Aguero for the derby through injury.
A win for United will see them leapfrog City in the table and will go top if Arsenal fail to win. City will stay top with a win at Old Trafford.
Sunderland vs. Newcastle United
It is one of the most important Tyne-Wear derbies in recent years when Sunderland host Newcastle at the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon.
Sam Allardyce will take charge of his first home game at Sunderland against the side he managed between May 2007 and January ’08 before he was sacked by the board. Allardyce was very unlucky not to get a point in his opening game at West Brom. A win on Sunday could see Sunderland get off the foot of the table.
While for Newcastle there is a huge amount of pressure on boss Steve McClaren who only picked up his first win as Newcastle manager last week in an impressive 6-2 home win over Norwich.
There were positives and negatives for McClaren from that win. The positives were £14 million man Georginio Wijnaldum was in terrific form and bagged four in the rout and Aleksander Mitrovic is starting to find his scoring touch. The negatives were the defence was shaky and could have easily conceded more than two with Nathan Redmond hitting the post twice.
It is set up to be a great game on Sunday but I do see Newcastle taking all three points and getting a vital win
Liverpool vs. Southampton
Jurgen Klopp is set to take charge of his first home league game as Liverpool manager when they take on Southampton at Anfield on Sunday evening. Liverpool go into this game unbeaten in their last seven, but they have only won once in that time however, which was a 3-2 win over Aston Villa a month ago.
After a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Rubin Kazan on Thursday night the Liverpool fans expect a much better performance from The Normal One’s team.
Southampton go into this game unbeaten in their last four. In that time they have picked up impressive wins against Swansea and Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Ronald Koeman’s side are full of confidence at the moment and were terrific in their last away outing at Chelsea so they will fancy their chances and spoil Jurgen Klopp’s big day. However they have lost their last three games against the Reds in all competitions.
Prediction: Liverpool win.
Arsenal vs. Everton
Arsenal take on Robert Martinez’s Everton at the Emirates on Saturday night. The Gunners go into this game off the back of a fantastic 2-0 in Europe against Bayern Munich during the week.
Arsene Wenger’s side have won five of their last seven games and are in a great run of form. Petr Cech, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud are in brilliant form for the Gunners, which was evident against Bayern midweek.
Everton were poor in their 3-0 home defeat against Manchester United and are looking for redemption and hope to come away from North London with all three points.
Prediction: Arsenal win.
West Ham United vs. Chelsea
There should be a good atmosphere at Upton Park on Saturday as West Ham host Chelsea and under-fire boss Jose Mourinho in a London derby.
West Ham have only won once at home in the league so far this season while Chelsea have only won once away from home in the league so something has to give this weekend.
A win for West Ham will see them go second for a couple of hours at least and should Arsenal win, the Hammers will be third for 24 hours at least and will mount the pressure on Jose Mourinho.
A win for Chelsea will see them go into the top half of the table for the first time since their 2-2 draw with Swansea on the opening day.
Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace
At the start of the season many people thought these two teams will be lying around mid-table but both teams have started off brilliantly to the season and lay in fifth and sixth respectively.
Leicester and their boss Claudio Ranieri look to have been a match made in heaven with the Italian taken into the Leicester fans hearts already. The Foxes are unbeaten in their last two and picked up a solid point in a come from behind draw away at Southampton which saw Premier League top goal scorer and England international Jamie Vardy score twice. He is in great form going into this game scoring ten goals in his last ten games in all competitions and he is a man Palace has to keep a firm eye on.
Leicester’s home form has been brilliant this season, winning three and drawing one from five home games and will fancy their chances against any team at home this season.
Crystal Palace have been very good on the road and have won three out of their four away games so far this season. Alan Pardew’s men are looking to put things right this weekend after a 1-3 home loss to West Ham last weekend but will be without Dwight Gayle this weekend through suspension.
Prediction: Leicester City win.
Stoke City vs. Watford
Stoke City have been in great form recently, winning their last four game with three of them coming away from home. They are looking to make it five wins from five when they welcome the visit of Watford to the Britannia Stadium and they should fancy their chances as Watford have only won twice this season.
Watford striker Odion Ighalo has scored five goals so far and the Nigeria international will want to add more to his collection and come away with the points.
Prediction: Stoke City win.
Aston Villa vs. Swansea City
Under-fire Villa boss Tim Sherwood needs all three points this weekend against visitors Swansea to ease the pressure. The ex-Tottenham boss denied reports last week that he was given an ultimatum of two games to save his job. Regardless of an ultimatum or not he needs his Villa players to put in a shift on Saturday and get a vital win.
The Villains have struggled since they lost top striker Christian Benteke to Liverpool and captain Fabian Delph to Manchester City. They go into this game with the Swans off the back of five defeats in a row, failing to score in their last two.
After a strong start to the season Swansea haven’t won since their 2-1 win over Manchester United in August and have plummeted down the table to 14th. This game is also a must-win for Swans manager Garry Monk.
Prediction: Swansea win.
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham
Newly promoted Bournemouth welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham to the Vitality Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Eddie Howe’s team is on a poor run of form, losing two of their last three games including last week’s 5-1 thrashing at Manchester City. They have lost goal-machine Callum Wilson to injury for the rest of the season but new signing Glenn Murray from Crystal Palace is showing he can fill the void left by Wilson, getting his name on the score sheet the last two weeks.
Tottenham have been somewhat of the draw specialists so far this season, drawing five of their first nine games but only Leicester City are level with Spurs with the fewest Premier League defeats this season with one that coming on the opening day against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Harry Kane has struggled to find the net this season so far only scoring one goal, which came in a 4-1 against Manchester City and he will be hoping he can kick start his season on Sunday.
Prediction: Tottenham win.
Norwich vs. West Brom
James McClean is a lucky man after he escaped a fine and a possible ban from the FA for celebrating his side’s 1-0 home win over his old team Sunderland in front of the Sunderland fans which sparked a tussle with Danny Graham and Lee Cattermole. West Brom have had mixed fortunes in their last five games in all competitions, winning two and losing three.
Meanwhile, Norwich and their manager Alex Neil are looking to bounce back from their heavy 6-2 away defeat to Newcastle last week. A win is much needed for both teams.