Saturday Night Football will see Manchester City attempt to get their stuttering campaign back on track when they visit Queens Park Rangers while Super Sunday brings rejuvenated Newcastle United taking on West Bromwich Albion before Swansea City aim to add to Arsenal’s problems.
Liverpool and Chelsea meet at Anfield in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off prior to the 3pm games, including Manchester United hosting Crystal Palace, Aston Villa visiting West Ham United, high-flying Southampton meeting Leicester City and Burnley against Hull City.
Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton are also in action on Sunday after their European exploits as they face Stoke City and Sunderland, respectively.
Manchester City may have won the Manchester derby last weekend but that seems a distant memory following an ill-disciplined midweek defeat by CSKA Moscow which left their UEFA Champions League ambitions almost in tatters. Manager Manuel Pellegrini has admitted his squad are suffering from a crisis of confidence so the Chilean could be expected to be a little nervous before Saturday night’s trip to Queens Park Rangers, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 4.45pm. Harry Redknapp’s QPR remain in the relegation zone but have improved in recent weeks after beating Aston Villa and narrowly losing to Chelsea.
Earlier on Saturday, Chelsea will be in action themselves as the table-toppers return to Anfield for the first time since derailing Liverpool’s title challenge at the end of last season. Pressure is on Liverpool for the lunchtime kick-off after Brendan Rodgers rested many of his first-choice players for Tuesday’s defeat away to Real Madrid. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea remain the only unbeaten team in the division so far this campaign, giving them a four-point lead, and so it is a big challenge for Liverpool.
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Between those two games, Manchester United will play among the 3pm matches as a result of their absence from European competition. Still stinging from the Manchester derby, Louis van Gaal will expect his players to take three points from an inconsistent Crystal Palace, who are only managing to stay out of the relegation zone as a result of goal difference. Palace boss Neil Warnock is also a man under scrutiny having recently been fined for his criticism of referees while he was less than impressed with the officials in Monday’s loss to Sunderland.
Southampton continue to surpass expectations as a win at Hull City last weekend kept Ronald Koeman’s team in second place behind Chelsea. Koeman will expect that to still be the story on Saturday when a sinking Leicester City visit St Mary’s. Nigel Pearson’s Leicester had started the season in promising fashion but they have now failed to win since their epic 5-3 success against Manchester United at the end of September. That form has seen last season’s Championship winners drop into the bottom three alongside their fellow newly-promoted clubs, QPR and Burnley.
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Rock-bottom Burnley will therefore be hoping for a change in fortune when they welcome Hull City to Turf Moor. Steve Bruce’s Hull have won only one game in nine in all competitions but a first victory of the league season will still be easier said than done for Sean Dyche’s goal-shy Burnley.
Aston Villa are another team who are struggling at the wrong end of the table and Paul Lambert’s free-falling side could find themselves in the relegation zone if results do not go their way when Saturday evening arrives. A dramatic, bad-tempered and late defeat by Tottenham last weekend means Villa have lost six games in succession to plummet down to 16th position. In contrast, West Ham United are proving their critics wrong and sit in the top five, meaning they will be optimistic ahead of welcoming Villa to Upton Park. Sam Allardyce’s side have taken 10 points from the last available 12, including beating Manchester City, to put them in formidable form.
Super Sunday’s lunchtime kick-off will see Newcastle United aim to make it five wins in succession when they face West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 12.30pm. Last weekend’s victory over Liverpool further lifted the pressure from Newcastle boss Alan Pardew and his 12th-placed team are now level on points with ninth spot. Alan Irvine’s West Brom will consequently be aware they will be facing an opponent full of confidence but the hosts got back on track themselves last time out by defeating Leicester.
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In the 4pm kick-off, live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 3.30pm, Arsenal will be in need of a win to quash any unrest after they surrendered a three-goal lead against Anderlecht in the Champions League. Arsene Wenger’s team remain in the top four in the Premier League and they cruised to a 3-0 win over Burnley last Saturday, however, they have won only two of their last five league games. A convincing win at Swansea City would be top of Wenger’s wish list as a result but Garry Monk’s men have made a good start to the campaign and occupy sixth place. It is also only Southampton who have beaten Swansea at the Liberty Stadium this season to make it a tough challenge for Arsenal.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Sunderland will want to build on that win over Palace on Monday which stopped the rot in their campaign. Ten goals conceded in two defeats prior to the victory at Selhurst Park had put manager Gus Poyet under pressure but there will now be a sense of optimism before welcoming Everton to the Stadium of Light. Roberto Martinez’s men have found consistency hard to come by so far in the league and they were frustrated by Swansea in their previous game to leave them in ninth place.
Finally, Tottenham Hotspur will hope their post-Europa League jinx does not strike again when Stoke City arrive at White Hart Lane. Having been involved in Europe in midweek, Spurs have not always performed at their best in the following Premier League game. But that late win over Villa should have raised confidence levels and Mauricio Pochettino will be demanding three points against a Stoke side who blew two-goal lead to draw with West Ham last weekend.