After the international break in which England booked their place at the World Cup, the Premier League is back this weekend with some interesting clashes.The likes of Arsenal and Liverpool will look to continue their strong form, while Gus Poyet steps into the fire in his first match as Sunderland boss. Here are my predictions for the weekend’s action.
Newcastle vs Liverpool
The visitors have started the season well, winning five of their seven games, but will be tested by an able Newcastle side eager to put together a run of form.
Liverpool won 6-0 the last time they travelled to St James’ Park, but it will be much closer this time round. With Loic Remy on form, the hosts will fancy their chances of getting something from the game in front of their fans.
Arsenal vs Norwich
Table-topping Arsenal will look to gain another three points here, but may well be without key playmaker Mesut Ozil; Santi Cazorla may be fit to deputise. With Arsenal favourites in Premier League betting to win the game, there will be a lot of interest in Arsene Wenger’s team selection given that Arsenal have Champions League football next week.
The Canaries sit in 18th ahead of the clash with only two wins this term, and will need to start well to get anything from the game.
Chelsea vs Cardiff
Jose Mourinho’s men have yet to fully hit top gear, but with the talent at his disposal the Portuguese coach will not accept anything other than victory here. Chelsea have a number of players in form after the international break, with Andre Schurrle scoring a hat-trick for Germany and Juan Mata impressing for Spain.
Cardiff have already gained the scalp of Manchester City this term, but it could be a damage limitation job for Malky McKay’s men. The internal power struggles at the Welsh club won’t help either.
Everton vs Hull
Only a point separates these two, who have both looked strong this term. Everton will go into the game as favourites, but will have to overcome a stubborn Hull outfit.
Romelu Lukaku could well be the difference between these sides, with the hosts looking slightly stronger in the final third than Steve Bruce’s men.
Manchester United vs Southampton
The Premier League champions lost their last home game unexpectedly against West Brom, and David Moyes will look to avoid more dropped points.
Southampton have had another solid start to the campaign and are looking like an accomplished Premier League outfit currently. Wayne Rooney’s form may well swing it in the hosts’ advantage.
Stoke City vs West Brom
Mark Hughes is eager to bring a footballing element into the traditionally direct Stoke, but his transition is taking time. Goals are the problem, as the Potters need to create more chances to back up tidy football.
West Brom will be buoyed by improved form and in Saido Berahino may well have a star in the making in their midst. The odd goal could well decide this.
Swansea vs Sunderland
Gus Poyet has a mammoth job on his hands to turn a Sunderland side around after a dreadful start to the new season. His first game will be a tough one, but the Black Cats may well welcome Steven Fletcher back to the fold.
Swansea have started the season in ebbs and flows, and will look to pick up a much-needed three points here. Michu, fresh from making his Spain debut, as always will be the key for the Welsh side.
West Ham vs Manchester City
The Hammers picked up an excellent 3-0 away win over London rivals Tottenham in their last game, and Sam Allardyce will hope for a similar performance here. Ravel Morrison is a man in form, and could terrorise the visiting rearguard.
City have been inconsistent under Manuel Pellegrini, and the travelling support will look for their side’s main players to stand up and be counted. Vincent Kompany is an injury doubt, which could have a significant bearing on the game.
Aston Villa vs Tottenham
Villa have improved this term and already claimed victories against Arsenal and Manchester City, with some of their homegrown players like Fabian Delph and Gabriel Agbonlahor starting the campaign well. Paul Lambert will pray that Christian Benteke is fit enough to feature.
Spurs will want to bounce back from their 3-0 humbling against West Ham, but will not have an easy afternoon here. Andre Villas-Boas will hope Andros Townsend can replicate his England form in Birmingham.
Crystal Palace vs Fulham
Ian Holloway’s men have found the going decidedly tough following promotion, and must bank on home games such as this to get the points to keep them in the Premier League.
Fulham boss Martin Jol is under pressure after an indifferent start, with some of the Cottagers faithful turning on the Dutch boss. Both sides need three points, but may have to make do with one.