Pressure on AVB
Andre Villas-Boas needs Spurs to bounce back from last week's thrashing but faces a tough test against Manchester United, for whom Ryan Giggs could play at 40. Elsewhere, Liverpool and Arsenal look for away wins, Chelsea host Southampton and Tony Pulis makes his Premier League return...
By Adam Bate - Follow @GhostGoal
Last Updated: 29/11/13 11:52am
A man on the brink?
A six-goal thrashing is always going to bring recriminations, especially when north of £100million had been spent on new talent in the summer, but the tabloid frenzy that has followed Tottenham's emphatic defeat to Manchester City has still been eye-catching. Andre Villas-Boas is a man under pressure and the admission that he and his players should be "ashamed" of Sunday's events demands a positive reaction this weekend.
Manchester United are the visitors to White Hart Lane so it's another big occasion with the stakes sky high. Win and the vultures will have to turn their attention to the beaten man from the previous day's clash at Upton Park (see below) but lose badly and AVB may be forced to pack up his clipboard and - just as he did in March 2012 - leave London with his P45 and a fistful of dollars called regret.
Giggs turns 40
The freak of nature that is Ryan Giggs was in imperious form as Manchester United crushed Bayer Leverkusen in midweek, so if life begins at 40 then the Premier League really is in trouble. The great man might well be resting up for the first United fixture since his big birthday but there will be wide-eyed wonder all round if he gets the call from his manager. In search of Premier League title No.14 and continuing to close in on a barely believable 1,000 appearances for the country's most successful club, it's a good time to sit back and wonder whether we'll see his like again.
Decisions for Moyes
While all eyes will be on the Welsh wizard, the Scotsman in the dugout must focus on building on the defending champions' stunning win in Germany as they return to Premier League action. City's demolition job on Spurs last weekend is surely an unrepeatable feat but a convincing performance will be the aim as United seek to defend their 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
The potential return of Robin van Persie would be a boost for David Moyes for such an important game but it also presents a conundrum regarding how to juggle his attacking options. Shinji Kagawa was impressive in a central role behind Wayne Rooney but could find himself shifted back to the left or axed altogether if the Dutch goal machine returns. Getting the best out of Kagawa could prove critical.
Can Liverpool win it?
Just when Gary Neville was starting to earn the grudging respect of Liverpool supporters, he decided to pour cold water on the team's title aspirations. The Sky Sports pundit might be unconvinced of the Reds ability to last the pace until May but with no European distractions and arguably the division's best player in Luis Suarez, there are those at Anfield capable of making a persuasive case for an unlikely triumph.
Three points at Hull in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday would certainly keep the pressure on leaders Arsenal and is eminently achievable at the KC Stadium. Steve Bruce and his team raised a few eyebrows with their encouraging start to the season and remain handily placed, but a thrashing at Southampton and a home defeat to Crystal Palace have set nerves jangling - and that's the last thing you need when the SAS comes to town.
Watch Hull City v Liverpool live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 1pm on Super Sunday
Test for the Gunners
A comfortable Champions League victory over Marseille on Tuesday was supposed to seal Arsenal's place in the knockout stages of the competition but results have conspired to require another good result in the final round of fixtures at Napoli. With Arsene Wenger already confirming that a full-strength side will be needed for that one, the veteran boss needs to rotate his troops in the three forthcoming Premier League matches without dropping points.
That's plausible in the home games that precede the trip to Naples but the toughest test could come at Cardiff this weekend. The Premier League new boys earned a deserved draw against Manchester United last weekend and the atmosphere in the Welsh capital is likely to be similarly intense for the visit of the Gunners. It's just the sort of game in which the Arsenal of recent years might slip up so all eyes will be on Wenger's men to see if this year's team is made of sterner stuff.
Surprise package... Again
Newcastle's fifth-place finish in the 2011/12 season got everyone very excited on Tyneside but the follow-up campaign was a huge disappointment as a summer of thumb-twiddling almost cost the Magpies dearly. This season started little better but just when Joe Kinnear was practising his team talks in the mirror, things have taken a dramatic turn for the better for Alan Pardew and his players.
Derby defeat to Sunderland was the nadir but a hat-trick of wins since then have propelled Newcastle into a position whereby victory over West Brom on Saturday will take them within a point of second spot. More importantly, for the realists, it would at least maintain the gap to Swansea in tenth - currently standing at five points - and cement that top-half status. Stand down, Mr Kinnear.
Watch Newcastle host West Bromwich Albion live on Saturday Night Football from 5pm
Saints at the Bridge
Well, Southampton. It's certainly been fun. But one senses the Premier League's perennial big boys will want to take the reins as we approach what Carl Froch calls 'the championship rounds' of the season. The defeat at Arsenal, complete with Artur Boruc's comedy routine, kicked off a series of fixtures that could send the Saints tumbling, rather than marching, to the more serene surroundings of mid-table.
Aston Villa, Manchester City, Newcastle and Tottenham all lie ahead before Christmas, but first there is a Super Sunday trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. It takes something special to beat Jose Mourinho on his own patch - just ask West Brom, who were robbed of victory there last time out. But a second defeat of the season to Basel in midweek suggests the Blues are vulnerable and the prospect of Southampton leapfrogging their hosts in the table should provide all the motivation Mauricio Pochettino and his men will need.
Watch Chelsea take on Southampton live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 4pm on Super Sunday
Dead men walking?
There is already a stench of footballing death surrounding this London derby as both Sam Allardyce and Martin Jol are facing disgruntled supporters, many of whom wouldn't be averse to their immediate exit regardless of events at the Boleyn Ground this Saturday. Currently sitting on opposite sides of the dreaded drop line (the Hammers have the edge on account of their slightly less dismal goal difference), away wins for the bottom two could spark full-blown crisis at either club.
Allardyce was happy to take the plaudits when his strikerless system pulled AVB's pants down at White Hart Lane but the joke has been on Big Sam ever since and the Irons will surely need to show a more purposeful side to their game at the weekend, even if - contradiction in terms, though it is - that means pressing Carlton Cole into action. As for Jol, the appointment of Rene Meulensteen as head coach might have been painted as a partnership but if Fulham suffer a sixth consecutive defeat then there are no prizes for guessing where the blame will fall.
Pulis takes charge
Newly-appointed Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis makes his bow - or should that be absolute refusal to bow given his press conference preferences - at Norwich on Saturday. The supposed hopeless task of keeping the Eagles in the top flight is looking rather more plausible after caretaker boss Keith Millen picked up four points from his final two games in charge and the team are now just three points (and a lot of goals) from safety.
Norwich are only a point further ahead of that and a trip to Carrow Road represents precisely the sort of contest in which the visitors need to show the sort of steely resolve so associated with their new manager. Pulis may have been at pains to point out he is a football coach not a firefighter but Steve Parish's choice to employ the Welshman was made with at least one eye on the immediate future and a positive result at the weekend would add to the unexpected feeling of optimism enveloping the club.