Premier League preview: Arsenal and Manchester United face off while Chelsea look to stretch lead at the top
Last Updated: 26/11/14 5:47pm
A decade on from the Battle of the Buffet, Arsenal and Manchester United meet in the Premier League game of the weekend on Saturday Night Football.
Victory for either side could lift them into the top four, but Chelsea will still be a speck in the distance if they beat West Brom at Stamford Bridge two hours earlier to extend their lead at the top to seven points.
Manchester City will be hoping to keep pace with Jose Mourinho’s side by overcoming Swansea City at the Etihad, while Newcastle are aiming for their fifth league win in a row when they host QPR.
Also on Saturday, high-flying West Ham face a tricky trip to Everton, Leicester look to end a two-month winless run at home to Sunderland and Stoke City entertain bottom club Burnley.
Super Sunday starts with Liverpool returning to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace for the first time since the dramatic 3-3 draw last season that dented their title bid.
Hull City then entertain Tottenham Hotspur before second-placed Southampton travel to Aston Villa on Monday Night Football.
Saints have started the season in superb form but still find themselves four points behind unbeaten leaders Chelsea. The Blues are set to be at almost full strength for the visit of West Brom on Saturday, with Diego Costa reported to be “totally recovered” following his recent injury problems. That could be bad news for Alan Irvine’s West Brom, although the Baggies have only lost one of their last five meetings with the Blues. Saido Beharino has been their standout player this season with seven goals to his name but will have his work cut out against a Chelsea side who already look to have one hand on the title.
Manchester City are still considered Chelsea’s most realistic challengers despite their inconsistent start to the campaign. Manuel Pellegrini’s side have only won once in their last three Premier League outings and were held to a 2-2 draw by lowly QPR in their most recent match. They have been buoyed by the form of Sergio Aguero, though, who has 12 goals in 11 league games this season and netted twice on his City debut against Swansea three years ago. Wilfried Bony is set to lead the line for Swansea after signing a new contract earlier this week and if Swansea win they will move level on points with City.
Fourth-placed West Ham could be without two of their most important players this season when they go to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday. Stewart Downing and Diafra Sakho have both returned from international duty with knocks and are doubtful for the clash. Andy Carroll could be in line to make his first start of the campaign for the Hammers though. Everton have injury problems of their own following the international break, with Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman both doubtful, but the Toffees have won their last four matches in a row against West Ham.
Arsenal and Manchester United meet at the Emirates on Saturday evening knowing that victory could lift them into the top four. Neither side has hit their stride yet this season and goals are expected on Saturday Night Football with two shaky defences on show. Alexis Sanchez will fancy his chances of continuing his fantastic goalscoring form for the Gunners while Angel di Maria could be United’s most dangerous player. Also of interest will be where Jack Wilshere plays, with Paul Merson saying earlier this week that he should occupy a deeper role as he did for England.
Both Arsenal and United could be overtaken by Newcastle United if they rack up their fifth league win in a row against QPR at St James’ Park. Ayoze Perez has been of the key men behind the resurgent Magpies’ recent success, scoring in each of their last three matches. He will fancy his chances of making it four in a row against a QPR side with the worst away record in the Premier League. Harry Redknapp’s men have failed to collect a single point on their travels so far this campaign, scoring just two goals while conceding 14 in five encounters.
Leicester will be looking to end a two-month winless run when they host Sunderland on Saturday. The Foxes have not tasted success since beating Man United 5-3 in September and have found goals hard to come by as of late, failing to score in five of their last six matches. The Black Cats have also had their struggles this season, such as losing to Southampton 8-0, but they have at least shown signs of recovery lately and will be boosted by the news that Steven Fletcher is fit to play this weekend.
Burnley will be hoping to build on their first win of the season when they go to Stoke City. The Clarets beat Hull City 1-0 last time out but still prop up the Premier League table with just seven points to their name. Stoke at home will be a tricky test for Sean Dyche’s side as the Potters have won two and drawn one of their last matches at the Britannia. Burnley have also netted just six goals in the league this season.
Super Sunday gets underway with Liverpool against Crystal Palace from Selhurst Park. It will be the first meeting between the sides since the dramatic 3-3 draw last season that dented Liverpool’s title hopes. The visitors will again be without Daniel Sturridge after he was ruled out until the new year with injury, but they will be hopeful of returning to winning ways against a Palace side who have been inconsistent under new manager Neil Warnock.
Speaking of inconsistent, Tottenham are yet to string a run of results together under Mauricio Pochettino and face a tricky trip to Hull City on Sunday. Spurs were beaten 2-1 at home by Stoke City last time out and start the weekend 12th in the table. Hull, though, have also struggled despite their array of new signings and Steve Bruce will be eager to see his side start to climb the table.
Monday Night Football sees Southampton looking to keep pace with leaders Chelsea when they travel to Aston Villa. Paul Lambert’s side have dropped off after a positive start to the campaign and look as though they will be forced into a defensive reshuffle against Saints due to injuries. The visitors will be hoping they can continue with the same back four that has kept clean sheets in their last four league matches in a row. Nathaniel Clyne was rewarded for his fine start to the season with an England call-up last week and Villa will have their hands full to contain the high-flying Saints.