Adebayor adds spice to a weekend of derbies
Premier League preview: The Gunners travel to Spurs as Everton and Liverpool meet for the 216th time
IT'S A weekend of derbies in the Premier League with Everton and Liverpool doing battle on Saturday and Spurs and Arsenal locking horns on Sunday afternoon.
Over in west London old enemies Fulham and QPR will also meet for the first time in 10 years on Sunday, while bragging rights are also up for grabs in the
North West as Blackburn take on Manchester City.
League leaders United have a rather less frenzied afternoon in store as newly promoted Norwich come to Old Trafford on Saturday and third-placed Chelsea head
to Lancashire to take on bottom-of-the-table Bolton.
Here's The First Post's guide to the best of the weekend's action:
Tottenham v Arsenal
This game won't have much impact on how the top of the table looks, but it could have massive repercussions for both sides. Arsenal look as though they may
have started to turn the corner, or at least Arsene Wenger may finally have the steering wheel back under control, but this is not the fixture he would have
wanted at this stage. As for Spurs they are unbeaten in six games and will be confident of getting one over on their old rivals on Sunday and proving that
the balance of power has well and truly shifted in north London, after all they have not lost a league derby for two years.
It is hard to believe, but Arsenal have not won back to back league games since February, when they followed up a win over Wolves with victory against Stoke.
Since then they have won four out of 17 league games, so their chances of upsetting their neighbours at White Hart Lane look slim. However, this is a derby and anything can happen, Gunners fans won't want reminding but last year Arsenal threw away a two-goal lead on their own turf and ended up losing 3-2.
Arsenal are still plagued by injuries, Jack Wilshere is out until the new year and the likes of Thomas Vermaelen (as usual), Theo Walcott (as usual), Johan Djourou and Gervinho are struggling for fitness.
Spurs have injury worries of their own, but one player who will be fit is former Arsenal favourite and now hate figure Emmanuel Adebayor. If and when he joins the fray there will be pandemonium, and it would be no surprise if he finds the net against the Gunners, who are unlikely to get much if anything from the game.
Everton v Liverpool
The weekend kicks of with that perennial classic, the Merseyside derby, and this one will be the 216th time the two teams have met. Liverpool will be hoping to do more than get one over on their local rivals, they want to re-establish their top-four credentials after stuttering earlier in the month. Although they beat Wolves last time out, the Reds were badly beaten by Spurs and also lost to Stoke after making an encouraging start to the season. Kenny Dalglish will be hoping that his expensively assembled side reacts well to the pressure.
The good news for Liverpool fans is that their talisman Steven Gerrard,who has seen it all before, is fit again, although he may have to settle for a place on the bench. He could find himself sitting alongside Andy Carroll, the big striker who has yet to prove that he was worth the Reds' £35m outlay.
Everton boss David Moyes can only wish that he was in a position to spend £100m on new players as Dalglish has done, but although he does not have a lot of cash he does have an experienced team that plays as a unit and will not be overawed by the occasion. His lack of strikers will mean a packed midfield but if Tim Cahill can kick start his season then the Toffees have reasons to be cheerful about their chances.
Blackburn v Man City
Whether of not Manchester City's visit to Ewood Park constitutes a bona fide derby is a moot point, both sides will be desperate for the win. City are looking good a the top of the table, but they had a disastrous week in Europe and not just because of a certain Argentine's refusal to play. They were found badly wanting by Bayern Munich and Roberto Mancini will expect a reaction from his band of millionaires. He will also be anxious to move on from the Carlos Tevez affair. The mutinous striker will be nowhere near Blackburn in Saturday, unless there is a particularly nice gold course nearby, but everyone will be waiting with bated breath for the moment that Mancini turns to his subs and asks them to warm up.
Blackburn won't mind that City come into the game under such scrutiny as it could affect the visitors. Rovers will also be on a high after beating Arsenal in an epic game at the Emirates last week. However, they are still languishing down in 18th place and manager Steve Kean knows that a bad defeat could spell the end for him. He is already without assistant manager John Jensen who quit the club this week.
Man Utd v Norwich
While some of their biggest rivals are caught up in the drama of local derbies United will be hoping to quietly dispatch newly-promoted Norwich when they visit Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. United were unstoppable early in the season and two weeks ago a monumental thrashing for the Canaries would have been on the cards, but the wind as slightly gone out of the United sails of late and the Red Devils were lucky to avoid an embarrassing home dedfeat to Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Up front Alex Ferguson will be without Wayne Rooney and there are question marks over Javier Hernandez, however Danny Welbeck scored twice in Europe and will give the Norwich defence plenty to think about. At the back Fergie is likely to have to stick with the pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones which looks solid enough on paper but was exposed by Basel.
Norwich fans will enjoy their day out at the Theatre of Dreams but if they expect anything from the game then they really are dreaming.
Bolton v Chelsea
What will Fernando Torres treat us to this week? Sadly nothing as he is suspended following his red card last week... But that is not necessarily good news for Bolton, as Didier Drogba is likely to return to the starting line-up having scored late on from off the bench against Swansea. Bolton are rooted to the bottom of the table without a win all season, and that is likely to change on Sunday lunchtime.
Fulham v QPR
The first edition of this west London derby for 10 years will be eagerly anticipated by both sets of fans who will take great delight in resuming hostilities after such a long lay-off. Joey Barton will also be licking his lips at the prospect of getting stuck in but whether he and Adel Taarabt, who has yet to set the premier League alight, will be able to secure victory remains to be seen. The Hoops are above Fulham in the league and although the Cottagers have not yet won this season they could be a good bet to break their duck on Saturday.
Elsewhere this weekend Aston Villa entertain Wigan, West Brom travel to Sunderland and Wolves follow them up the M1 as they take on Newcastle ad in the other match Swansea take on Stoke.