Premier League preview
Liverpool and Tottenham will put the Premier League's remaining 100 per cent records on the line when they face their arch-rivals on Super Sunday.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 16/09/13 8:31am
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will put the Premier League's only two remaining 100 per cent records on the line when they face arch-rivals Manchester United and Arsenal on Super Sunday.
Elsewhere, Manchester City will hope to respond positively to their Cardiff stumble when they face another promoted side, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion will be looking to open their respective goal accounts and Crystal Palace and Swansea City will go in search of their first points of the season.
The top flight weekend opens at the Etihad Stadium, with wounded Manchester City determined to avoid a mauling at the hands of Hull City's travelling Tigers. Manuel Pellegrini drew plenty of praise for the manner in which City swept aside Newcastle in their opening fixture, but the Chilean was given a rude awakening during a trip to South Wales last time out. It could be argued that City rather shot themselves in the foot against Cardiff, but they will be desperate to make amends heading into the international break. Hull, meanwhile, will be buoyant after collecting their first win back in the big time and have already shown during a visit to Stamford Bridge that they are capable of running title hopefuls close on the road.
The Saturday Night Football cameras will be at Selhurst Park when Crystal Palace play host to Sunderland. Ian Holloway will have been under no illusions as to how tough life among the elite was going to be after toasting play-off glory, and back-to-back defeats suggest Palace could be in for a rough ride. It is, however, still very early and a return to home soil this weekend could play into Palace's hands, with Sunderland yet to get out of first gear. It was always going to take time for the dust to settle after a summer of change at the Stadium of Light, but Paolo Di Canio knows he needs a new-look side to gel quickly and for big-money acquisitions to start offering a return on the Black Cats' sizeable investment.
Sandwiched between contests in the North West and south London are four more Premier League clashes, with Cardiff City's home date with Everton an encounter which should appeal to the purists. Both sides like to play the game in the right manner, with Malky Mackay and Roberto Martinez two managers who place greater emphasis on pass and move than hit and hope. Mackay's methods paid off handsomely against Manchester City last Sunday, and the Cardiff City Stadium should still be rocking when the Toffees roll into town. Martinez is yet to taste defeat as Everton boss, and will not want to start now, but two draws to open the campaign suggest his reign is still very much a work in progress.
The same could be said for Norwich City, another side to have spent big over the summer in an effort to consolidate and move in the right direction. Chris Hughton has been able to strengthen his attacking options and will hope that a six-goal showing against Bury in a midweek Capital One Cup tie bodes well for the weeks ahead. The Canaries will, however, run into a Southampton side this weekend that is loaded with a goal threat of its own and one that has gone unbeaten through its opening two fixtures. Expectations have risen sharply on the South Coast and Mauricio Pochettino is the man charged with the task of delivering - with the Argentine tactician having put his own stamp on things for a first full season in the St Mary's hot-seat.
West Ham United have collected four points from two games so far and will feel that there is still plenty of room for improvement as they welcome injured stars back into their ranks. Sam Allardyce has assembled a squad brimming with international talent and while he may still be short of firepower, and with no money in which to dip back into the transfer market, he has every right to believe that the Hammers could be pushing for Europe this season. If they are to form part of that particular pack, they have to make the most of fixtures at Upton Park. Stoke City are unlikely to be relishing a trip to the East End on Saturday, with Mark Hughes yet to convince the Potters support that he is capable of building on the foundations put down by predecessor Tony Pulis. Stoke did, however, come from behind to see off Crystal Palace last time out, so would appear to have lost none of their battling qualities.
Alan Pardew could do with his Newcastle United side displaying a bit of dogged determination when they welcome Fulham to Tyneside, with one point and no goals from two fixtures not what the Toon Army were hoping for on the back of last season's struggles. Yohan Cabaye will come back into contention for a clash with the Cottagers, but whether his involvement offers a welcome boost or an unwelcome distraction remains to be seen. Martin Jol will be hoping for the latter, with Fulham's early outings suggesting they have plenty of inconsistencies to iron out. They have seen Darren Bent open his goal account, though, and Newcastle must be fearing the worst against a striker they were heavily linked with throughout the summer - only to see him head for the capital.
A Super Sunday double-header should get the pulse racing for those involved and those watching from afar, with Liverpool and Manchester United rekindling old rivalries in a lunchtime kick-off at Anfield. There is never any love lost when two heavyweights of English football lock horns, and fireworks are expected once again on the red half of Merseyside. Brendan Rodgers has overseen back-to-back victories for Liverpool at the start of a campaign for the first time since 2008 and only Chelsea - who have played a game more - are keeping the Reds, who have yet to concede, off top spot. Manchester United, with former Everton boss David Moyes now at the helm, have come through two testing openers unscathed and will take heart from the fact that they did the double over Liverpool last season. The Reds have come out on top in four of the last six meetings between the two at Anfield, though, and will be looking for more of the same in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
As if one epic tussle between fierce foes is not enough for one afternoon, attention will then turn to North London for more derby drama in the latest instalment of Arsenal and Tottenham's long-running feud. Sunday's contest will pitch penny-pinching Arsene Wenger into combat with big-spending Andre Villas-Boas, with Spurs having made their intentions clear with an extensive summer splurge while the Gunners have yet to dust down their chequebook. The men from White Hart Lane may be planning for life post-Gareth Bale, but the money generated from his sale to Real Madrid has helped to reshape a squad which was already of top-four calibre and Arsenal have a lot to prove if they are to remain top dogs in their neck of the woods and convince that they are realistic title contenders - a prize Spurs feel they are ready to start chasing down.
The remaining weekend fixture will see West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City attempt to kick-start their season. The Baggies were always going to find it difficult to replicate their blistering start to the 2012/13 campaign, but they would have been expecting more from 180 minutes of action than one point and no goals. They have, however, still fared better than the Swans during the opening exchanges, with Michael Laudrup another struggling to get going after a stellar showing from his troops last term. In fairness to the Swans, the fixture computer did them few favours with early encounters against Manchester United and Tottenham but, with a Europa League campaign to also factor in, they need to build momentum and get points on the board if they are to avoid any mid-season struggles when tired legs begin to take their toll.