Premier League preview
Defending Premier League champions Manchester City travel to Liverpool while Chelsea and Newcastle meet at Stamford Bridge.
Last Updated: 24/08/12 1:13pm
Defending Premier League champions Manchester City travel to Liverpool while Chelsea and Newcastle United meet among the pick of this weekend's fixtures.
Elsewhere, Robin van Persie could be given his first Manchester United start when Fulham visit Old Trafford and the Dutchman's former club, Arsenal, make the trip to Stoke City.
Manchester City last Sunday made tough work of their victory over Southampton and will know they cannot afford such a sloppy performance when they take on Liverpool at Anfield. The Sunday afternoon game, which can be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD and 3D, promises to be an engrossing encounter. Joe Hart's goalkeeping heroics in 2011/12 saved City when they visited the red half of Merseyside and this season they will face a similarly determined Liverpool, who will be desperate to respond from their wretched opening day defeat by West Bromwich Albion. But Liverpool, who on Thursday night narrowly defeated Hearts in the Europa League, have won just one of the last seven Premier League games against City, although four of the other six have resulted in draws. However, Merseyside is also not a happy hunting ground for Roberto Mancini and the Italian has never won in eight visits as either a manager or a player.
Chelsea have been earning widespread praise for their start to the season after wins over Wigan Athletic and, in midweek, newly-promoted Reading. But some have suggested the accolades for the Eden Hazard-inspired Stamford Bridge club are somewhat premature and so Roberto Di Matteo and his squad on Saturday evening will want to make a statement when Newcastle United visit London. Papiss Cisse's wonder goal last season helped to give Newcastle a 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge but they face a tough task to repeat that feat. Alan Pardew's side on Thursday made a gruelling trip to Greece in a sweltering Europa League 1-1 draw against Atromitos. The Magpies rested nine first-team players but Pardew will still be concerned about how his squad will cope with the fixture congestion of Europe, which is something they did not have to deal with when finishing above Chelsea in last season's table.
Robin van Persie on Monday made his debut as a substitute for Manchester United but the Dutchman could not prevent the 2011/12 Premier League runners-up from losing 1-0 at Everton. The former Arsenal captain could well start on his first home game at Old Trafford and that will be a worrying prospect for Martin Jol's Fulham. Wayne Rooney has scored four goals in his last three Premier League games against the Londoners and the combined threat of Van Persie is ominous to say the least. Fulham, without the wantaway Clint Dempsey, on the opening day of the season hammered Norwich City. But former Tottenham boss Jol has a dreadful record against Sir Alex Ferguson and after eight Premier League meetings he has drawn twice and lost six in a row, failing to score in the last five.
Van Persie's former club, Arsenal, and Stoke City on Sunday lunchtime renew their peculiar rivalry when the meet in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the Britannia Stadium. Tensions have been simmering between the two clubs ever since Aaron Ramsey in February 2010 broke his leg due to a Ryan Shawcross challenge. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has also been critical of Stoke's style of play in the past and has consequently increased the tension and annoyed Tony Pulis. Arsenal, though, have won five of the last seven but have also only won one of the last three. In the wake of last weekend's stalemate with Sunderland, they will need to prove they can cope without Van Persie, who in 2011/12 scored three league goals against Stoke.
Saturday's lunchtime kick-off is also live on Sky Sports and it sees Swansea City host West Ham United. Michael Laudrup made a dream start to life as a Premier League manager with the thrashing of Queens Park Rangers and the Dane will hope for a repeat against another London club in his first home match in charge. Sam Allardyce's West Ham could include Matt Jarvis after the winger was on Friday morning signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers for a club record fee, reported to be £10.75million. The Hammers defeated Aston Villa on their return to the top flight and will want another three points when they meet Swansea in the league for the first time since 1983. The Hammers were the away team in that match and won 5-1.
Unlike Laudrup, Andre Villas-Boas made a disappointing start to his new job as Tottenham Hotspur boss in last Saturday evening's loss at Newcastle United. But the former Chelsea flop will have been a little confused as to how his team left St James' Park with nothing after dominating their hosts for the majority. One of Tottenham's problems on Tyneside was the lack of attacking options other than Jermain Defoe. Emmanuel Adebayor has since returned to White Hart Lane on a permanent transfer from Manchester City and has described himself as 'hungry' for goals ahead of his potential inclusion against West Brom. Steve Clarke's side will be no pushovers, though, after an impressive opening to the Scot's managerial career with the 3-0 win over Liverpool.
Lots has been made of Everton after their dominant victory over Manchester United and there have even been suggestions David Moyes' team could be ready to address their trademark slow starts to seasons and challenge for a return to the UEFA Champions League places. After one game, that would appear as premature as the praise of Chelsea but Paul Lambert's Aston Villa will know they will have to work hard if they want to win their first points of the league season in a first game on home soil. Villa do have the incentive of knowing they are unbeaten in 12 games against Everton.
Last season's Championship runners-up, Southampton, came so close and yet so far to causing a major shock to Manchester City in what was ultimately a 3-2 defeat and Nigel Adkins will be demanding the same attitude when hosting Wigan Athletic. Roberto Martinez's side paid the price for a terrible opening seven minutes in their defeat by Chelsea and his team will likely be weakened this weekend by the absence of Victor Moses at St Mary's. A fee has been agreed for the sale of the forward to the European champions.
Chris Hughton's Norwich City and Mark Hughes' Queens Park Rangers both endured shocking opening day results as they each conceded five goals without reply in respective hammerings from Fulham and Swansea. Both defences will have been told in no uncertain terms they need to tighten up or otherwise a thriller could be in store at Carrow Road. QPR have been chasing Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Dawson and goalkeeper Julio Cesar in a bid to strengthen their defence to give an indication of their intent. However, they have lost four of the last five meetings with Norwich and have also had players sent off in four of the last seven games.
Reading have just one point from two games back in the Premier League but they can take confidence from worrying Chelsea in midweek, before the decisions of match officials proved costly, while they had already showed good spirit to snatch a draw against Stoke City. Sunderland are their hosts and Martin O'Neill will want to build on the goalless point at Arsenal, particularly as the Black Cats have failed to win in their last nine league games.