Premier League football is back after the international break and fans are holding their breath to see their new signing in action. Here is what to expect from this weekend.
Manchester United v Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace might have been away from the Premier League for a long time, but their last visit to the Old Trafford was back in 2011 in a League Cup fixture. Glenn Murray’s goal in the 98th minute of the game provided a memorable victory for Palace. United’s last victory against Palace came way back in 2004 when Paul Scholes scored a memorable brace in a 5-2 win. Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand are the only survivors from that line-up.
David Moyes will be without Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher in this game, while there are also doubts about the fitness of Rafael and Phil Jones. Maroune Fellaini is expected make his much expected awaited debut in this game after his deadline day transfer from Everton. Ian Holloway has a long list of injured players ahead of this fixture. Glenn Murray, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Parr, Lewis Proce, Patrick McCarthy, Jonathan Williams and Jack Hunt are out of this game with injuries. There are also doubts about the fitness of Jerome Thomas.
United made a good start to their campaign but are coming into this game on the back of a disappointing loss to Liverpool, while Palace, who lost their opening two matches, are coming into this match on the back of a morale boosting 3-1 victory over Sunderland. But it is hard to see anything beyond an United victory in this match at Old Trafford – by a comfortable margin one must add.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Crystal Palace
Stoke City v Manchester City
Britannia stadium hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Manchester City. The Citizens are yet to win a premier league match in this stadium, although they did win on their last visit to Stoke in the league cup fixture back in January. In fact all the last four matches between these two sides in the Britannia stadium have ended in 1-1. So Manchester City will be looking to improve their record this weekend, but they face a rejuvenated Stoke side, who have a good start to the season under new manager Mark Hughes.
Mark Hughes will be without the services of Glenn Whelan and Charlie Adams, who missed Scotland’s midweek game against Macedonia. Three news signings could make their debut for Stoke in this game, although only Stephen Ireland is likely to start among them. But all eyes will be upon the Austrian attacker Marco Arnautovic, who was signed on the deadline day. Manuel Pellegrini on the other hand a lot of injury concerns at the moment, especially at the back. Vincent Kompany is still out injured, while the man who was bought to provide back-up for Kompany, Martin Demichelis, has already picked up an injury even before making his debut. But the good news is that Micah Richards could be back in the squad and is expected to start from the bench. David Silva is also likely to miss this game after picking up an injury in training while he was away on international duty with Spain.
Manchester City might have won their last game against Hull, but they have looked far from convincing since their opening that win against Newcastle United. Without Kompany their defence looks vulnerable and the team seems to be a top heavy on the pitch. Stoke on the other hand have recovered well from their opening day defeat to Liverpool and are on a two match winning streak, including an impressive victory over West Ham away from home in their last game. This will be a very close game and one can expect Stoke to grab atleast a draw at home, where their record against City have been very impressive.
Prediction: Stoke City 1-1 Manchester City
Sunderland v Arsenal
This is one of the most highly anticipated fixtures of the weekend, simply because Arsenal record signing – Mesut Ozil – is expected to make his debut in this game, although the recent team news could dampen lot of spirits.
Sunderland have always managed to give Arsenal a run for their money. The matches between these two sides have historically been very close. Out of the last six meetings between Sunderland and Arsenal at the Stadium of light, the Black Cats and Gunners have won two each.
Both the teams have a lot of injury concerns ahead of this fixture. Paolo Di Canio will be without Craig Gardner, Phillip Bardsley, Lee Cattermole, Connor Wickham in this game, while John O’Shea will miss out due to suspension. There are also doubts about the fitness of Wes Brown. Arsene Wenger will miss out on Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Yaya Sanogo. Recent reports suggest that Per Mertesacker hasn’t travelled with the squad and will miss this game as well. While perhaps the most disconcerting report has been that of Mesut Ozil’s illness, although he has travelled with the squad despite missing training. Thomas Vermaelen is back in the squad after his long layoff, but is unlikely to start in this game.
Sunderland have made a dismal start to the season under Paolo Di Canio having collected just one point so far. They are coming into this game on the back of a very disappointing performance against Crystal Palace. Arsenal on the other hand have made a wonderful recovery since their opening day defeat to Aston Villa. They defeated Tottenham in the North London derby in their last game and the squad will be high on confidence. The Gunners should be able to maintain their momentum in his match.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal
Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City
Tottenham haven’t had much luck in defeating Norwich in recent times. In fact Spurs’ last victory against them came way back in 2011 when Gareth Bale scored a brace. Norwich have won two and drawn two of their last four encounters against Tottenham, including a famous League Cup victory at Carrow Road last season when they scored two late goals to cancel out Gareth Bale’s opener. The last encounter between these two sides at the White Hart Lane ended in a 1-1 draw as Snodgrass scored a late equalizer and Huddlestone was sent off in the dying minute of the match. AVB will be keen to improve his team’s record against Norwich this Saturday.
Andre Villas Boas does have few injury concerns ahead of this fixture. Etienne Capoue picked up an injury during their defeat against Arsenal and is expected to be out for couple of weeks. Gylfi Sigurdsson is out with a dead leg, while there are still concerns about the fitness of Aaron Lennon. Adebayor is on a leave following his brother’s death and is unlikely to be part of the squad this Saturday, while new signing Vlad Chiriches is still waiting on his work permit to get his Tottenham career started. Norwich have a relatively smaller injury list to worry about ahead of this game. Midfielder Elliot Bennett remains the only long term injury concern at the moment, although there are also doubts about the fitness of Ryan Bennett. The good news for Norwich is that new signing Gary Hooper has recovered from his calf injury and is likely to make his Norwich debut as a substitute in this game.
Both the teams went into the break on the back of contrasting results. Tottenham, who made a fine start to the season with two victories and two clean sheets, produced a rather disappointing performance against Arsenal in the much awaited London derby. Norwich on the other hand pulled off an amazing victory against Southampton as Nathan Redmond’s goal in the second half proved to be the winner. It was a crucial win for Chris Houghton’s side as they started their campaign with a draw against Everton at home, followed by a disappointing loss to Hull City. So the three points against a relatively strong Southampton side, has surely lifted the mood Carrow Road.
Tottenham will have a point to prove in this game, after their loss to Arsenal. They will come out all guns blazing and are expected to dominate possession. Norwich will give them a good fight, but Spurs’ better quality on the pitch will come through in the end.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Norwich City
Aston Villa v Newcastle United
Newcastle United have had the better of Aston Villa in recent past. Aston Villa’s last victory over Newcastle United came in 2010-2011 season when James Collins scored the winner. Newcastle have managed to grab four points in their last two trips to Villa Park, including a famous 2-1 victory back in January.
Charles N’Zogbia is the only injury concern for Villa ahead of this game. Nathan Baker will be back in the squad after recovering from his ankle injury, although he is unlikely to start in this game. Newcastle United on the other hand will miss out on Ryan Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez in this game. There are also doubts about the fitness of Gabriel Obertan and Michael Williamson. Steven Taylor is back in the squad after serving his suspension, but is unlikely to start in this game. French midfield Yohan Cabaye is set to start in this game, after failing to secure his move to Arsenal during the transfer window.
Aston Villa have had a tough start to their campaign with their opening three fixtures against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. They might have lost two of their last three games, but Paul Lambert can be proud of his team’s performances in all the three games so far. They have certainly showed massive improvement since last season. Newcastle United on the other hand are coming into this game on the back of their first victory this season, against Fulham. But Alan Pardew will be concerned about the team’s lack of cutting age upfront – having scored just one goal in three games.
Aston Villa at home will be a difficulty proposition for Newcastle United. Paul Lambert should be confident about getting all three points in this game.
Prediction: Aston Villa 2-1 Newcastle United
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion
Craven Cottage has been a tough place for West Brom to visit in the recent past. Their last victory against Fulham in this ground came way back in 2005, in a league cup fixture, when Junichi Inamoto scored the winner in extra time. Fulham have managed to score 15 goals against West Brom in their last five matches at home, conceding just two in the process.
Martin Jol has few injury concerns ahead of this game. Kieran Richardson is yet to return to full fitness, while Maarten Stekelenburg continues his spell on the side lines. There are also doubts about the fitness of Aaron Hughes, who missed out on his international duty due to a thigh injury. New signing Fernando Amorebieta is likely to make his debut in this match. Steve Clarke has a slightly longer injury list at the moment though. Zoltan Gera and Ben Foster continue to be at the side lines with injuries, while there are doubts about the fitness of James Morrison, Steven Reid. Matej Vydra and Graham Dorrans. West Broms fans would be hopping to see the new signings Sessegnon, Anichebe and Amalfitano in action at some point in the match.
Fulham’s season has gone downhill since their opening day victory against Sunderland, while West Brom are at the bottom of the table. Neither of the sides are in inspiring form at the moment, but given Fulham’s strong record at home against West Brom, one can see Martin Jol’s side grabbing all three points.
Prediction: Fulham 1-0 West Brom
Hull City v Cardiff City
Cardiff have managed to win only once in their last six visits to the KC stadium, but they could make it two out of seven in this match. 18 goals have been scored in the last five meetings between these two sides in this ground, so one can expect an exciting game.
Hull are without Allan McGregor, Abdoulaye Faye and George Boyd due to injuries, while there are doubts about the fitness of Sone Aluko. Yannick Sagbo will also miss out due to suspension. McGregor’s absence will provide the opportunity to Steve Harper to make his debut for the club. Cardiff will miss Steven Caulker and David Marshall after the duo picked up injuries while they were on international duties. Andreas Cornelius will continue his spell at the side lines with his ankle injury. Joe Lewis and Mark Hudson could make their first start this season.
Cardiff have made a good start to their life in the Premier League. Very few would have expected them to pick up four points against Manchester City and Everton in their last two games. Hull on the other hand have expectedly lost their matches against Chelsea and Manchester City, but got a crucial three points against Norwich. Even in their defeat in the last game against Man City, Hull put up a wonderful fight and were perhaps unlucky to lose by a margin of two goals in the end.
It will be a close match, but expect Cardiff to sneak in with a win at the end.
Prediction: Hull City 1-2 Cardiff City
Everton v Chelsea
This is undoubtedly the most high profile match this weekend. It has been a fairly even contest between these two sides at the Goodison Park. Both the teams have won two each in their last five fixtures in this ground – and only once has a team won by more than a one goal margin, so one can expect another close contest in this game.
Everton will be without Antolin Alcaraz and Darron Gibson in this game as the duo lack match fitness. Romelu Lukaku, who signed on loan from Chelsea on the deadline day, will be ineligible for this game. There are also doubts about the fitness of James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman. Gareth Barry, another deadline day signing, is in line to make his debut for the club. There are some concerns about the fitness of Eden Hazard and Oscar, but the duo could be recover in time to start in this match. New signings Samuel Eto’o and Willian are expected to start on bench.
Everton are still undefeated this season, but Roberto Martinez will be concerned about the fact that his team has missed out on victories against teams like West Brom, Cardiff and Norwich. Everton have kept two clean sheets in their last two games, but have also failed to score a goal in that period. Chelsea on the other hand have made a fantastic start to the season with two victories and a draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
It will be close game as Everton are always a tough nut to crack at home, but their lack of firepower upfront could be cause for concern. Chelsea are expected to collect all three points in this game.
Prediction: Everton 0-1 Chelsea
Southampton v West Ham
West Ham’s last victory at the St Mary’s stadium came way back in 2000. Sinclair scored the winner for the away side in that game, which finished 3-2. But since then, three of the last five encounters between these two sides in this ground have ended in draw, along with two Southampton victories.
Mauricio Pochettino has a full squad to choose from in this game as Jos Hooiveld seemed to have recovered from his illness. Sam Allardyce on the other hands has his hands full with injured players. Andry Carroll, Alou Diarra, Stewart Downing and Joe Cole are all out of this fixture. Diarra and Carroll are expected to be out of action for a long time. Sam Allardyce will have a problem in setting out his attack for this game.
Southampton have made a reasonable start to their campaign, although they lost their last game against Norwich. In fact both West Ham and Southampton have grabbed four points in their opening three matches and both teams have suffered a 1-0 defeat in their last game. This it is hard to separate these two teams at the moment. But considering how injuries has weakened West Ham’s attack and Southampton’s good record at home against them, Mauricio Pochettino will expect a victory in this game.
Prediction: Southampton 1-0 West Ham
Swansea v Liverpool
Liverpool scored five goals against Swansea in the last match between these two sides, but that was their first win over Swansea in the last five matches. In fact Liverpool are yet to win at the Liberty Stadium since Swansea were promoted two seasons back.
Neil Taylor continues his spell at the side lines and there are also concerns about the fitness of Jonjo Shelvey and Nathan Dyer, although Shelvey should be able to recover in time to face his former club. Liverpool will be without Sebastian Coates, Aly Cissokho and Glen Johnson in this game. Luis Suarez also continues to serve his suspension. There are also concerns about the fitness of Joe Allen and Daniel Sturridge, although the England international is expected to start in this game. Kolo Toure is fit and available in this game, but might have to be contained with a role on the bench after Skrtel’s impressive performance in the last game.
Swansea have had a tough start to the season with opening matches against Manchester United and Tottenham, but they were back to winning ways in their last game against West Brom. That victory would have restored a lot of confidence back into the squad. Liverpool meanwhile top the points table having made perfect start to their season with three consecutive 1-0 victories, including a massive win over Manchester United in their last game.
Liverpool are expected to maintain their momentum in this game against Swansea.
Prediction: Swansea City 1-2 Liverpool