Premier League preview
North London bragging rights will be on the line this weekend, with old adversaries Arsenal and Tottenham set to rekindle their rivalry.
Last Updated: 19/11/12 10:25am
North London bragging rights will be on the line this weekend, with old adversaries Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur set to rekindle their rivalry.
Elsewhere, Manchester United go in search of a sixth straight success, Manchester City put their unbeaten record on the line and Chelsea look to overcome a recent wobble.
The eyes of the world will descend on Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime for the latest instalment in a long-running feud between capital neighbours Arsenal and Tottenham - with all of the action live on Sky Sports 2HD and in Sky 3D. Meetings between these two arch-enemies have had a tendency to produce a hatful of goals in recent seasons, with the last four fixtures at the Emirates seeing strikers very much on top - with the target found on 23 occasions. Arsene Wenger will be aware that recent defensive showings from his side suggest there could be more of the same this weekend, with the Gunners having picked up an alarming habit of shooting themselves in the foot. Spurs, meanwhile, have suffered three defeats in four to slip off the top-four pace and Andre Villas-Boas will be desperate for his first experience of derby day to be an enjoyable one.
Manchester United have moved ominously to the Premier League summit, with Sir Alex Ferguson's title-winning machine starting to move through the gears. Norwich City are the next side to tackle the rampant Red Devils, with the Canaries charged with the task of trying to replicate the heroic display they put in at Carrow Road when stunning Arsenal back in October. United will be aware that a potential banana skin awaits them in Norfolk, but a sequence of results that has seen them prevail in 12 of their last 14 meetings with Norwich suggests the hosts have it all to do.
Sandwiched between contests at the Emirates and Carrow Road are six other top-flight fixtures, with Manchester City entertaining Aston Villa in a contest which will see the only unbeaten record in the top four divisions of English football come under threat. It is widely acknowledged that defending champions City have yet to produce their best this season, but the fact that no side has been able to take advantage of those deficiencies bodes well for Roberto Mancini's troops. Villa have already won once at the Etihad Stadium in the 2012/13 campaign, in the Capital One Cup, but just two victories in 11 league outings has left them precariously perched just above the drop zone and sweating on the fact that they could end the weekend inside the bottom three.
In order for Villa to slip deeper into the mire, Reading will need to do something they have yet to achieve this season - take three points from a Premier League fixture. The Royals have only been beaten on four occasions - the same amount as Tottenham - but they are yet to break their winning duck upon returning to the top level and will be aware that weekend opponents Everton are no pushovers. The Toffees continue to occupy a standing inside the UEFA Champions League places and are currently on an eight-match unbeaten run, with David Moyes having brought the best out of a tight-knit unit.
Sitting just above Everton at present are Chelsea, a side that burst out of the blocks but one that has suffered something of a stumble of late. The Blues have a habit of allowing their standards to drop as temperatures plummet and they could do with a pre-winter warmer at The Hawthorns on Saturday against in-form West Bromwich Albion. A familiar face awaits them in the Black Country, in the form of former coach and now Baggies boss Steve Clarke, but the Scot is unlikely to go lightly on his one-time employers, with West Brom having dropped just three points in front of their own supporters so far.
Liverpool are among those to have felt the full force of the Baggies this season, and the Reds have yet to fully recover from an opening day mauling in the Midlands. Their latest encounter sees them return to home soil against Wigan Athletic, but Anfield has been far from a happy hunting ground for Brendan Rodgers' side - with only three wins taken from 15 games in 2012. Roberto Martinez's Latics will be keen to pile more misery on the locals this weekend, with their last visit to the red half of Merseyside in March seeing them leave with the spoils.
Newcastle United and Swansea City find themselves stuck in mid-table, with both sides probably feeling that they could, and maybe should, have fared better up to this point. The Magpies have struggled to build on their success from last season, with one win in six leaving them six points adrift of the top four. Swansea's recent record also makes for uncomfortable reading, with one win secured in nine, and they have collected just one point from the last 12 available on the road.
The last of Saturday's fixtures sees Queens Park Rangers go in search of their first victory of the season at the 12th time of asking. Pressure continues to mount on Mark Hughes' shoulders, but the same can also be said of Nigel Adkins - who takes his Southampton side to Loftus Road this weekend. The Saints are just one place and a solitary point better off than QPR and a ninth defeat of the season would see them slump to the foot of the table.
The Super Sunday action this weekend comes from Craven Cottage, with Fulham playing host to Sunderland live on Sky Sports 1HD. Four draws in five have prevented the Cottagers from edging closer to the European-chasing pack, but they have looked dangerous in front of goal and have Dimitar Berbatov firing on all cylinders. Sunderland will be aware of the need to keep the mercurial Bulgarian quiet if they are to take anything from a contest which sees Martin O'Neill's men looking for only their second victory of the season and a welcome pick-me-up in front of goal.