The Manchester derby is the main attraction this weekend as we preview the upcoming Premier League fixtures.
Norwich v Aston Villa
Neither of the teams have made good start to their league campaign. Norwich are coming into this game on the back of a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham at White Hart Lane. But Chris Houghton knows that his team will have to pick up points at home, if they are stay away from the relegation scrap and so far they have done well at Carrow Road. In their first home game they drew with Everton and followed that up with an important victory over Southampton.
Aston Villa have had some tough fixtures so far this season, facing the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in their opening three games. But Paul Lambert will be disappointed with the loss against Newcastle United at home in their last game. So this match against Norwich provides a good opportunity for them to return to winning ways.
In fact Aston Villa have had the better of Norwich in recent times at Carrow Road. Norwich have win their last two matches on their visit to this ground, including a memorable 4-1 victory in the League Cup back in December.
Chris Houghton doesn’t have any new injuries to deal with as Elliott Bennett and Ryan Bennett still remains at the side-lines. Despite the loss to Tottenham, Aston Villa doesn’t have a strong enough bench to make too many changes, although there is probability of Gary Hooper making his debut in this game.
If the defeat against Newcastle wasn’t bad enough, Paul Lambert would have been left disappointed by the fact that new signing Jores Okore’s season might be over after picking up a ACL injury in that game. Ciaran Clarke is expected to replace him in defence. In the midfield Yacouba Sylla is expected to replace Karim El Ahmadi, while their also a possibility of Aleksandar Tonev making his first start in place of Weimann.
It will be close match considering Norwich good home form and Villa’s good record in this ground. This could end in a draw.
Prediction: Norwich City 1-1 Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland
This is a clash between two sides that are at the bottom of the table at the moment. West Brom are yet to register their first win this season and are coming into this game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Fulham. It took goal from Gareth McAuley in the dying moments of the game to snatch a draw for West Brom. Interestingly their away form has been better than their home form this season. They are still looking for their first points at The Hawthorns this season.
The only club who have performed worse than West Brom is Sunderland. It has gone from bad to worse for Roberto Di Canio. They have managed just one point so far and are coming into this game on the back of controversial 3-1 defeat at the hands of Arsenal.
Historically West Brom have had the better of Sunderland at the Hawthorns. In fact Sunderland’ last victory in this stadium came way back in 2007, but West Brom have scored 10 goals in four matches against Sunderland at home since that defeat.
Steve Clarke has long list of injury worries ahead of this fixture. Zolton Gera, Ben Foster and George Thorne are still out of contention for a place in the side. There are also doubts about the fitness of Shane Long, Matej Vydra and Steven Reid. James Morrison is likely to get a start after recovering from his injury, also there is a possibility of Stephane Sessegnon could make his debut against the former club after being granted a work permit.
Good news of Paolo Di Canio is that John O’Shea has returned from his suspension and will replace Roberge in the starting line-up that faced Arsenal. Emanuele Giaccherini, who missed the last match with an injury, has recovered well and is expected replace Mavrias on the left. Wes Brown and Phillip Bardsley are still out injured, while there are concerns about the fitness of new signing Andrea Dossena and Lee Cattermole. Gardner is also expected to start in this game after an impressive performance in the second half against Arsenal.
West Brom could finally turn their season around in this game and win their first match of the season. Their record at home against Sunderland is mightily impressive.
Prediction: West Brom 2-1 Sunderland
West Ham v Everton
Both the sides have made decent start to their league campaign, in fact Everton are only the second side who are still undefeated in the league. Everton might have lacked to cutting edge upfront to win matches in the first three games, despite dominating possession (although they did score 2 goals in their opening game), they pulled out a wonderful performance against Chelsea in their last match. Steven Naismith’s header from a well worked move turned out to be the winner as Chelsea faltered upfront.
West Ham played out a goalless draw against Southampton in their last game and worryingly for Sam Allardyce, it was the third match in a row that his side has failed to score a goal. In fact Everton and West Ham have managed to score just five goals among themselves in eight games, although they have conceded only three so far.
Everton have had the upper hand in this fixture in recent times and have won five out of their last six matches at Boleyn Ground, although most of them have been very close games.
Sam Allardyce has a long injury list to contain with ahead of this game. Alou Diarra, Andry Carroll, Steward Downing, Joe Cole and George McCartney are all out injured and has left them weak in attack. So big Sam doesn’t have too many options at the moment and is likely to field an unchanged eleven in this game.
Roberto Martinez will be without Darren Gibson, Antolin Alcaraz and Steven Pienaar in this match and there are also doubts about the fitness of Aroune Kone. Romelu Lukaku is likely to come off the bench to make his debut in this match.
Everton will continue their unbeaten streak in this game and maintain their impressive record in this stadium. Expect a hard fought victory for Roberto Martinez’s men.
Prediction: West Ham 0-1 Everton
Liverpool v Southampton
It has been a dream start for Liverpool in this year’s campaign. Having won three out of four matches so far, they are currently the league leaders. They are coming into this match on the back of a 2-2 draw with Swansea and will be confident about maintaining their unbeaten start at home against Southampton.
Southampton made a good start to their season as well, but now they have failed to score in their last two games. But they seem to have a strong enough squad for a mid-table finish this season and if Mauricio Pochettino can resolve their problem in front of the goal, they could even push for a top half finish. At the moment though, they seem to be too dependent on Rickie Lambert to provide them the goals.
It has been a fairly even contest between these two sides in recent past, in fact Southampton have won three of their last four matches against Liverpool. But the Saints’ have struggled to get a result at Anfield. In fact their only victory in their last five visits to the stadium was way back in 2003.
Brendan Rodgers has a long list of injuries to contain with ahead of this game. Philippe Coutinho, Aly Cissokho, Sebastian Coates and Glen Johnson are all out of this match. There are also doubts about the fitness of Daniel Agger and Joe Allen, although Agger is likely to start alongside Skrtel in defence. Luis Suarez will serve the last of his 10-match ban and will return to action from their next game.
Southampton on the other hand have a nearly fully fit squad, although there are still question marks about the fitness of Luke Shaw and Daniel Fox. This could possibly leave them short in the left back spot.
Southampton will struggle to score against a resolute Liverpool defence and the home side have enough fire power upfront to get all three points.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Southampton
Newcastle United v Hull City
Newcastle United have recovered brilliantly from their opening day loss against Manchester City and are coming into this game on the back of two consecutive victories. It was an impressive performance in their last game against Aston Villa, away from home, as Yoan Gouffran’s second half goal proved to be the winner.
Hull City might have accumulated only four points in their four matches so far, but their two defeats came against Chelsea and Manchester City. In fact many would consider them unlucky to have lost to Manchester City by such a score line after putting up a wonderful performance. But Steve Bruce will be particularly delighted about the fact that his side has picked up points at home, which is crucial for them. They put up another good display against Cardiff in their last game, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Alan Pardew has a long injury list to contain with ahead of this game as Jonas Gutierrez, Gariel Obertan, Shola Ameobi, Massadio Haidara, Ryan Taylor and Michael Williamson are all out of this fixture. Which means Pardew will field an unchanged line-up in this game.
Steve Bruce is without Robert Koren in this game, and he could prove to be a big miss in attack. Stephen Quinn is expected to replace him in the side. The only other change is that of Yannick Sagbo replacing Danny Graham upfront, after he completes his three match ban.
Interestingly Hull City have had the upper hand against Newcastle United in recent fixtures. In fact they have won three and drawn two of their last five games with the Geordies. But that run could be broken this time around with Newcastle seemingly getting back in form. Expect the home side to win this close game.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-0 Hull City
Chelsea v Fulham
Another London derby awaits us this weekend, although it is not among the most traditionally fierce rivalries, it is a derby none the less. Chelsea made a good start to their campaign this season, but it has started to go downhill after their loss to Bayern Munich in the Super Cup. They have now lost three games in a row, including a disappointing 1-2 defeat at the hands of Basel in the Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge. In their Premier League last game they lost 1-0 to Everton, after an insipid performance upfront.
Fulham started their season with a 1-0 away victory against Sunderland, but followed that up with two defeats in a row. In their last match they missed a brilliant opportunity to grab another victory as Steve Sidwell’s goal gave them a lead against West Brom. They protected that lead for most part of the match, but conceded late in the 92nd minute and dropped points.
Jose Mourinho doesn’t have any injury worries at the moment, but he does have a lot of selection headache ahead of this fixture. Samuel Eto’o is likely to be dropped to the bench with Fernando Torres getting back into the starting line-up. Mourinho is yet to get his right midfield combination and Ramires is expected to return to starting line-up alongside Lampard in the pivot.
Martin Jol on the other hand has a lot of injury concerns ahead of this game. Bryan Ruiz, Maarten Stekelenburg, Matthew Briggs and Aaron Hughes are all out this game. There are also doubts about the fitness of Dimitar Berbatov, which means Darren Bent could start upfront.
Although Chelsea won the last meeting between these two sides 3-0, most of the recent fixtures have ended in a draw. In fact four of the last six games between Fulham and Chelsea have ended in a stalemate. Chelsea’s last victory over Fulham at Stamford Bridge came in 2010 when Michael Essien scored the winner and was also sent off in that game. But Mourinho’s men will be eager to bounce back with a win in this game after their loss to Basel and Fulham have too many injuries to cope with at the moment.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Fulham
Crystal Palace v Swansea City
Crystal Palace have had a tough start to this season and it seems like Ian Holloway will have a tough time in keeping them out of the relegation zone this season. They lost 2-0 in their last game to Manchester United, although they did put a decent defensive display till they went down to 10-men at the end of the first half.
Swansea on the other hand have recovered well from the defeat they suffered at the hands of Manchester United and Tottenham in their opening two matches. They are undefeated in their last three games, including a massive victory away to Valencia in the Europa League. In their last game, Jonjo Shelvey dominated the headlines with one goal, one assist and two mistakes which lead to Liverpool’s goals, but Michu’s equaliser in the second half salvaged them a point.
Ian Holloway has a really long injury list contain with ahead of this game. Patrick McCarthy, Jonathan Perr, Jack Hunt, Glenn Murray, Yannick Bolasie and Jonathan Williams are all out injured. Kagisho Dikgacoi will serve his suspension after picking up his red card against Manchester United. There are also doubts about the fitness of Joel Ward and Jerome Thomas ahead of this game.
Swansea will be without the services of Pablo Hernandez and Neil Taylor, who also missed their trip to Valencia in midweek. It will be interesting to see the midfield combination that Michael Laudrup prefers to put out in this game with De Guzman, Shelvey, Britton and Canas all in contention.
Swansea have had the upper hand in this fixture having won three of the last three games. They have also won on their last two visits to the Crystal Palace Park. The Eagles’ last victory against Swansea on their home ground came way back in 2008. It seems Swansea will maintain their impressive record in this stadium against Palace in this ground and maintain their recently gained momentum. Palace doesn’t have the depth in their squad to deal with so many injuries.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 1-2 Swansea City
Arsenal v Stoke City
Arsenal have turned around their season fantastically after this much talked about opening day loss to Aston Villa at the Emirates. They have now won six games on a row after that defeat and are currently in second place in the league table. In their last game an early goal from Olivier Giroud and a brace from Aaron Ramsey gave them three points against Sunderland, although the game was later overshadowed by controversies regarding some questionable decisions by the referee.
Stoke City have also been in fine form under new manager Mark Hughes. Like Arsenal they have recovered well from their opening day defeat against Liverpool and followed that up with two impressive wins against Crystal Palace and West Ham. In their last game, they put up a wonderful display against Manchester City and were unlucky in many respects to have come out with only a draw in that game.
Arsene Wenger still has a long injury list to deal with ahead of this game with Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain all out injured. The good news is that Mikel Arteta has returned to full fitness, although he is unlikely to start in this game against Stoke. Inclusion of Per Mertesacker in place of Carl Jenkinson is the only change that will be made to the starting eleven that was fielded against Sunderland.
Stoke will be without Glenn Whelan, Marc Muniesa and Jamie Ness in this game. Mark Hughes is expected to make only one change to the team he fielded against Manchester City. Peter Crouch is expected to replace Kenwyne Jones upfront, who missed a lot of guilt edged chances against the Citizens.
Stoke have always managed to give a good fight against Arsenal , although their last victory against the Gunners came in 2011. At the Emirates though Arsenal have had the upper hand, winning all of their last six encounters. Expect the Gunners to maintain that record against them in this game, although it will be a fairly tight game.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Stoke City
Cardiff City v Tottenham Hotspur
Cardiff have made a good start in the Premier League and look the most likeliest of the newly promoted sides to avoid relegation this season. They have already caused a massive upset in beating Manchester City and followed that up with a draw against Everton. In their last game, they came away with a point against Hull courtesy of a wonderful strike from Peter Whittingham.
Tottenham look to be the real deal this season. A lot is expected of the London side after investing heavily in their squad this summer and they have started their campaign on the right note. Currently third in the league, Tottenham have won six of their last seven matches in all competition. They look set to break into the top four this season and could possibly launch a sustainable title challenge.
Malky Mackay will be without the services of Andreas Cornelius and David Marshall. Meanwhile there are also doubts about the fitness of Craig Bellamy and the former Liverpool striker is unlikely to feature in this game. Don Cowie is set to replace him in the starting line-up.
Andre Villas Boas has to contain with a long injury list ahead of this game. Nacer Chadli, Etienne Capoue, Danny Rose and Aaron Lennon are all unavailable for this fixture, while there are doubts about the fitness of Dembele.
The last meeting between these two sides was back in 2007 in a FA Cup fixture, which Tottenham won on replay. That victory came five years after their previous meeting in the league cup back in 2002, when Teddy Sheringham scored the winner for the London side. Tottenham will once again be too strong for Cardiff City, although the home side have already shown their ability to pull out an upset.
Prediction: Cardiff City 0-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City v Manchester United
Manchester City are yet hit their top form this season and they haven’t quite lived up to their billing after their victory against Newcastle United on the opening day. They lost against Cardiff, gave an unconvincing performance against Hull City and were lucky to have come out with a draw against Stoke City in their last match. Manuel Pellegrini will be mostly worried about the team’s defence which has looked shaky in Kompany’s absence.
It has been a similar story for Manchester United as well, although they have faced much tougher opponents so far. In their last match they grabbed all the three points against Crystal Palace, although it must be said that they didn’t create too many openings against 10-men Palace side. In fact United have failed to score from open play in their last three league matches. But their performance against Bayer Leverkusen at home in the Champions league, where they scored four goals would have provided them with immense confidence.
Manuel Pellegrini will be without Martin Demichelis, Gael Clichy and Micah Richards for his match, although their defence is now considerably stronger with the return of Vincent Kompany at the back. There are also doubts about the fitness of David Silva and he is unlikely to take any part in this game.
David Moyes also has few injury concerns ahead of this fixture with Rafael, Phil Jones, Danny Welbeck and Darren Fletcher all out of contention for this game. Ashley Young could return to the starting line-up in place of Shinji Kagawa who was selected against Bayer Leverkusen.
It has been a pretty even affair between these two sides in recent past. Both United and City have won three games each in their last six meetings. It will be close game once again, one which could possibly end in a draw.
Prediction: Manchester City 1-1 Manchester United