Premier League preview
Manchester United's showdown with Arsenal is centre stage on a Super Sunday where Sky Sports will bring you a hat-trick of Premier League matches.
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp
Last Updated: 09/11/13 3:06pm
Manchester United's showdown with Arsenal takes centre stage on a Super Sunday where Sky Sports 1HD will bring you a hat-trick of live Premier League matches.
The Old Trafford meeting between the reigning champions and the league leaders is the undoubted highlight of an impressive day of live action which kicks off at midday with the clash between Tottenham and Newcastle and is then followed by Sunderland against Manchester City.
Chelsea and Liverpool have the chance to close the gap on Arsenal on Saturday as they take on West Brom and Fulham at home, respectively, while Southampton host Hull City intent on continuing their fine start.
Struggling Norwich's home meeting with West Ham can be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD from 5pm on Saturday evening, while bottom club Crystal Palace host Everton and Aston Villa tackle Cardiff at 3pm, with Swansea's clash against Stoke completing the weekend programme on Sunday afternoon.
Arsenal's credentials as title challengers continue to be the subject of significant debate and Arsene Wenger's side will be able to win over more doubters with victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, live on Sky Sports 1HD. The Gunners opened up a five-point lead over the chasing pack last weekend with a 2-0 home success against fellow high-flyers Liverpool, before producing a smash-and-grab raid to defeat UEFA Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund in Germany. But Manchester United, for all the talk of a crisis under new manager David Moyes, have put together a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions, with five victories and two draws. Robin van Persie scored in both Premier League meetings with his former club last season and can expect to return to the starting XI despite his penalty miss when stepping off the bench against Real Sociedad on Tuesday night.
Manchester City currently sit just two points ahead of United and six adrift of Arsenal as they prepare for their trip to Sunderland, which can also be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD. Manuel Pellegrini's men are peerless in front of their own supporters, but porous on the road, with three defeats from their five away games so far. City have also suffered 1-0 defeats on their last three Premier League visits to the Stadium of Light, with their last victory on Wearside coming back in August 2008, when Stephen Ireland and Shaun Wright-Phillips were on the scoresheet. Sunderland are showing signs of recovery under Gus Poyet, with victories over Newcastle and Southampton sandwiching the 1-0 defeat at Hull City when the Black Cats played all of the second half with nine men.
Chelsea, like Manchester City, can boast a 100 per cent record in front of their own supporters in the Premier League this season and are strong favourites to make it six wins from six when West Brom arrive at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. An unexpected defeat by Newcastle at St James' Park last weekend stalled the Blues' momentum under Jose Mourinho, before order was restored with a midweek success against Schalke in the UEFA Champions League. West Brom, under the stewardship of former Mourinho assistant Steve Clarke, have been inconsistent this season, with the highs of a success against Manchester United at Old Trafford tempered by the lows of home defeats at the hands of Swansea and Southampton and a 4-1 drubbing by Liverpool at Anfield.
Liverpool are back in action at Anfield on Saturday following the disappointment of their 2-0 defeat at Arsenal last time out with struggling Fulham the visitors. Brendan Rodgers admitted prior to the trip to Emirates that his improving side remain a work in progress, a point which was demonstrated in their defeat by the Gunners. But such is the tightly-packed nature of the title race this season that favourable results for the Reds this weekend would see them back within two points of the leaders. Fulham were overrun in the opening stages of their 3-1 home defeat by Manchester United last weekend before restoring a measure of respectability with their second half display, although manager Martin Jol remains a man in the spotlight.
Another Premier League boss shifting uneasily in his seat at present is Norwich boss Chris Hughton as the Canaries prepare to tackle West Ham at Carrow Road in the Saturday evening game, live on Sky Sports 1HD. Norwich's 7-0 battering at the hands of an outstanding Manchester City last weekend saw Hughton's men remain in the relegation zone in a season they were hoping to establish themselves in the Premier League following a summer of investment in new faces. A home failure against the Hammers will naturally increase the pressure on the Canaries boss, who has come under fire from his own fans at times this term. West Ham sit just two points further up the Premier League table, with a lack of goals the main concern for Sam Allardyce this term, with just eight scored in their 10 games to date.
Aston Villa have managed to find the net once more than West Ham but, as they prepare to face Cardiff at Villa Park, have gone four Premier League games without troubling the scorers. The last time Paul Lambert's men were able to celebrate a goal was back on September 28 when they shocked Manchester City in front of their own supporters. Home defeats by Everton and Tottenham in between away draws to Hull City and the Hammers have seen them slide to the fringes of the relegation scrap. Cardiff go into the game one point better off than their opponents and Malky Mackay's men will expect to build on their memorable South Wales derby victory over Swansea last time out.
Michael Laudrup's Swansea have the chance to make amends for their derby setback when they return to Premier League action in front of their own supporters against Stoke City on Sunday afternoon. Juggling domestic and European commitments appears to be hampering the Liberty Stadium outfit somewhat this term as they are yet to hit the heights of last season, with five of their 10 league games ending in defeat and their Capital One Cup defence coming to an abrupt end at the first hurdle. Stoke remain a side in transition under Mark Hughes and Tony Pulis' replacement takes his side to Wales just one point and one place above the relegation zone. Such are their struggles in front of goal this season it will be a statistic of some embarrassment for the Potters that goalkeeper Asmir Begovic is their joint top-scorer this season following his freak wind-assisted effort after 13 seconds of the 1-1 draw with Southampton last weekend.
Begovic's improbable strike was only the fourth goal that Southampton have conceded this season, giving Mauricio Pochettino's men the best defensive record in the Premier League ahead of Saturday's clash with Hull City at St Mary's. That solid backline has enabled the Saints to maintain their position in the upper reaches of the table, above Manchester United, level with City and only one point adrift of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham. Visitors Hull City have been impressively resilient in defence this term, with a record that is better than both the Manchester clubs and on a par with Merseyside duo Liverpool and Everton. Of the last eight league meetings between the two teams - all of which came in the Championship - the Tigers have won just once, with Southampton enjoying success in four of their last five.
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been given the all-clear following the worrying head injury he sustained in the 0-0 draw with Everton last weekend and can expect to start the home game with Newcastle, live on Sky Sports 1HD. The White Hart Lane contest, which is the first game in our hat-trick of live action on Super Sunday, gives Spurs the opportunity to improve on a miserable goalscoring record of just five goals in front of their own supporters in the Premier League this term, two of which have come from the penalty spot via the boot of Roberto Soldado. Newcastle will head to the capital buoyed by their excellent 2-0 home success against Chelsea last weekend and can take further heart from their record at White Hart Lane, where they have enjoyed six victories in the Premier League era.
Crystal Palace's decision to part company with Ian Holloway following a miserable start to the season has not produced any upturn in fortunes as they welcome Everton to Selhurst Park on Saturday. Caretaker Keith Millen, who is not interested in the job on a full-time basis, has overseen 2-0 defeats at the hands of Arsenal and West Brom which leaves the Eagles rooted to the bottom of the table after nine defeats in their opening 10 matches. Everton have enjoyed a productive start under new manager Roberto Martinez, with just one defeat so far, and the Goodison Park club are placed among the clutch of teams from second to seventh who are separated by just a single point.