Premier League preview
Top-flight new boys Hull City, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City will be hoping to get off the mark, while there is a capital derby at Craven Cottage.
Last Updated: 23/08/13 1:27pm
Top-flight new boys Hull City, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City will be hoping to get off the mark in the second round of fixtures, while there is a capital derby at Craven Cottage.
Liverpool, West Ham United and Southampton will be among those looking to make it two wins from two, while Tottenham Hotspur will want to put another week dominated by Gareth Bale's future to the back of their mind when they take to the field on Sunday.
The weekend action gets under way on Saturday lunchtime, with Fulham playing host to London rivals Arsenal. The Cottagers made a winning start to their 2013/14 campaign at Sunderland on the opening day and may feel that they are running into Arsene Wenger's Gunners at just the right time. Arsenal will take plenty of confidence from an impressive 3-0 victory over Fenerbahce in their midweek UEFA Champions League qualifier, but that success has papered over old cracks. Wenger remains under pressure to make big-money market moves before the transfer window closes and cannot afford to suffer another on-field setback following a forgettable 3-1 defeat at home to Aston Villa last Saturday.
The dawn of a new season will always conjure up feelings of excitement and expectation, but the opening weekend of Premier League competition provided a rude awakening to the three sides promoted into the top tier. Hull City were handed the thankless task of starting at Stamford Bridge, but acquitted themselves well in a 2-0 defeat by Chelsea. A stumble out of the blocks cost them dear in west London, so Steve Bruce will be looking to address that issue when they return to the KC Stadium to face Norwich City. Chris Hughton has further bolstered his ranks with the signing of former Bolton Wanderers forward Johan Elmander, and he will now be demanding a return on considerable summer investment.
Crystal Palace can consider themselves a tad unfortunate to have ended a derby date with Tottenham Hotspur on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline, as they displayed plenty of resilience and dogged determination on their return to English football's top table. The Premier League is an unforgiving beast, though, and Ian Holloway - who has already been handed an FA charge for post-match comments just 90 minutes into the season - will be eager to ensure that his side do not become plucky losers. They will get another opportunity to open their account on Saturday when they travel to Stoke City. Mark Hughes will have taken positives from a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool, which saw the Potters miss a late penalty, and has expressed a desire in the week building up to the game to play an entertaining brand of football.
Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew will be telling his players that their season starts now, having endured an opening weekend to forget. An unwelcome bid from Arsenal for Yohan Cabaye disrupted the Magpies' preparations for a trip to Manchester City, and their eye appeared to be everywhere but on the ball as they ended a 4-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium with 10 men. A positive response to that setback is a must, but West Ham United will make the trip to Tyneside confident they can further flatten Pardew's mood. Former Magpies manager Sam Allardyce will be fired up for the clash, as will Kevin Nolan - another ex-Newcastle man. Andy Carroll will play no part against the club that helped to launch his career, but the Hammers caught the eye as they saw off Cardiff 2-0 last time out and will feel that there is more to come as they welcome injured stars back into the fold.
Everton were involved in the only stalemate of the 2013/14 campaign so far when they were forced to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw at Norwich. The statistics from that fixture suggest that Roberto Martinez has already made his mark at Goodison Park, with the Spaniard demanding possession football and plenty of movement from his troops. Whether that is enough to build on the foundations put down by predecessor David Moyes remains to be seen, but the omens look good. Next up for the Toffees is a home date with West Bromwich Albion, who will be without one of their high-profile summer signings at Goodison Park. Nicolas Anelka is out of the fold on compassionate grounds and has been mulling over the idea of retiring. Steve Clarke will be hoping the French striker can be talked around, with the Baggies aware of the need to get goals from somewhere if they are to repeat last season's top-eight heroics.
Goals would not appear to be a problem for Southampton, with Italy international Daniel Osvaldo having been added to their enviable attacking arsenal in a club-record deal. He will complement the likes of Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez, while Rickie Lambert's fairytale start to the season continued last weekend with the winning goal in a 1-0 success at West Brom. Mauricio Pochettino has moved this week to curb speculation suggesting the England international could be edged out by the new arrivals, and he is likely to lead the line again in a meeting with Sunderland. Paolo Di Canio's summer spending spree on Wearside shows no signs of slowing down, but he now needs to settle on a starting XI and find a winning formula. Promising additions have been made by the Black Cats, but they need to gel quickly if another basement battle is to be avoided.
The final fixture on Saturday sees Aston Villa return to Villa Park, in their third outing of the season. Paul Lambert's side may not have been given the credit they deserve on the back of a 3-1 victory at Arsenal on the opening day - with the Gunners' struggles dominating - but they also impressed during a trip to Chelsea in midweek which could have seen them claim a share of the spoils were it not for some contentious refereeing decisions. Villa will need to scale those heights again on Saturday, with Liverpool travelling to the Midlands for a game which will be screened live on Sky Sports 1 HD. The Reds boast a formidable record at Villa Park in past meetings and Brendan Rodgers will want more of the same as he attempts to push the men from Anfield back into top-four contention.
Tottenham Hotspur's activity in the transfer market - which has seen them make a £30million move for Brazilian playmaker Willian - suggests they are readying themselves for life after Gareth Bale. The Welshman remains on their books for now, but Spurs are looking to spend big and appear to have their sights locked firmly on creative talent. Bale - who could be about to make a record-breaking switch to Real Madrid - will play no part on Sunday when his current club play host to Swansea City. Both sides hit five in their respective Europa League play-offs on Thursday, so will arrive at White Hart Lane in a positive frame of mind. Swansea will be under the greater pressure to put in a performance in north London, with Michael Laudrup's side having been hammered 4-1 by reigning champions Manchester United on the opening day.
Super Sunday will be beamed live from South Wales, with Cardiff City's first Premier League home date set to see them tackle buoyant Manchester City. The Bluebirds are gracing the top flight for the first time in more than 50 years and will be desperate to show that they belong on that stage. They fluffed their lines at West Ham, but will have a passionate support behind them when they head home this weekend. Taking points at the Cardiff City Stadium will be crucial to their survival plans, but taking anything off Manchester City will be a big ask. Manuel Pellegrini's reign got off to the perfect start on Monday, with Newcastle swatted aside with a minimum of fuss. City pressed throughout that contest, with Pellegrini having delivered the kind of football which has served him well during spells spent coaching in South America and Spain.