Premier League preview
Sunday's Manchester derby is the showpiece event this weekend, as a new rivalry is forged between Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes.
Last Updated: 25/09/13 5:49pm
The Manchester derby is the showpiece event in the Premier League this weekend, as a new rivalry is forged between Manuel Pellegrini and David Moyes.
Jose Mourinho's Chelsea will be looking to bounce back from a tough week when they host Fulham, while Liverpool can strengthen their position at the top of the table against Southampton and in-form Arsenal welcome Stoke City to the Emirates Stadium.
West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland meet in a battle between the only two teams yet to win a league game, unbeaten Everton travel to West Ham United, and Aston Villa take on Paul Lambert's former side Norwich City.
Elsewhere, Newcastle United entertain Hull City and Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur return from Europa League action with away games against Crystal Palace and Cardiff City respectively.
There is no doubt about the main attraction, though, as champions Manchester United continue their difficult start to the season with a trip across town to the Etihad Stadium. A long-established rivalry has been given extra spice in recent years by Manchester City's emergence as a genuine force and both sides will be determined to strike an early psychological blow in the title race. There is nothing to choose between them at this stage as they are locked together on seven points, while both sides made winning starts to their European campaigns in midweek. Wayne Rooney notched his 199th and 200th goals in the 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen and all eyes will be on the England striker, along with the new men in the dugout as Moyes and Pellegrini pit wits against each other for the first time.
Arsenal also won in the Champions League this week and are in action before the Manchester derby in the first part of Super Sunday's double-header, live on Sky Sports 1HD. The Gunners have responded impressively from defeat on the opening day of the season and are currently flying high in second place. Mesut Ozil's arrival from Real Madrid has added to the feel-good factor and the German is sure to get a great reception on his home debut, when Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud will also be looking to carry on their fine scoring runs. Stoke will provide a tough test, though, having held Manchester City to a goalless draw last time out to continue their encouraging start to life under Mark Hughes.
Mourinho has called for calm at Chelsea after two defeats in a week increased the scrutiny on his side's trophy-winning credentials. Having gone down 1-0 at Everton, the Blues then suffered a shock 2-1 loss at home to Basel in the Champions League to make it four games without a win, and questions have been asked about Mourinho's selections and the balance of his team. Next up for Chelsea is another home game on Saturday, live on Sky Sports 1HD, against a Fulham side who were booed off after their 1-1 draw with West Brom last weekend.
Liverpool returned to the Premier League summit on Monday despite losing their 100 per cent record in a 2-2 draw with Swansea, and they will be keen to return to winning ways against Southampton. It will be the final game for the Reds before they can call again on Luis Suarez, although the Uruguayan's suspension has not proved too costly as Daniel Sturridge has scored in every game this season. Southampton have managed just two goals in four matches but have only been beaten once and will hope to push on from a 0-0 draw with West Ham which left them in mid-table.
West Brom and Sunderland currently occupy the bottom two positions in the table after failing to register a win in their opening four games. The Baggies had not even managed a goal before Gareth McAuley's last-gasp equaliser against Fulham but Steve Clarke is predicting the 'floodgates could open' and he will now have club-record signing Stephane Sessegnon available to make his debut against former club Sunderland after the 29-year-old was granted a work permit. Sunderland were beaten 3-1 at home by Arsenal last weekend as Jozy Altidore controversially had a goal ruled out, and Paolo Di Canio was sent to the stands after arguing with referee Martin Atkinson.
The weekend kicks off with Norwich hosting Aston Villa at Carrow Road. Lambert will be desperate for victory against his former club after a disappointing sequence of three straight defeats for Villa since their win away to Arsenal. Norwich are just a point better off after being outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Tottenham, although they are unbeaten in their previous two home matches.
It has been a positive couple of weeks for Newcastle and they have a chance to cement their standing in the top half as they host newly-promoted Hull at St James' Park on Saturday. Hatem Ben Arfa, in particular, has been one of the stars of the season so far and has promised the Toon Army he will again try to produce a dazzling display against Hull. Steve Bruce's Tigers drew 1-1 with Cardiff last weekend and they have been rocked by the news that skipper Robert Koren is set to be sidelined for at least a month with a fractured bone in his foot.
Everton are the only unbeaten side in the division apart from Merseyside neighbours Liverpool, and will be aiming to follow up their home success against Chelsea when they journey to West Ham. On-loan striker Romelu Lukaku is available to make his debut after being ineligible to face his parent club, and Sam Allardyce is expecting a tricky game. The Hammers have failed to score in three league games since the opening day but are just a point adrift of the Toffees in mid-table.
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas may have played down his side's title chances but they have been in good form so far this season and there was plenty to admire in their performance against Norwich. Christian Eriksen's performance was especially eye-catching and Spurs will look to the Dane for inspiration on Sunday against Cardiff, who have impressed in the early stages of their maiden Premier League campaign.
Swansea, fresh from a trip to Valencia's Mestalla in the Europa League, visit Crystal Palace in a Sunday lunchtime fixture. How Michael Laudrup's men juggle their continental and domestic commitments will be key to a successful season and Palace may sense an opportunity to capitalise on some fatigue and bounce back from defeat by Manchester United in a hard-fought encounter at Old Trafford.