All eyes on Sahin but Arsenal must score against Liverpool
Premier League preview: Life after Carroll begins at Anfield, United visit Southampton
WITH the transfer window finally shut and the players over their ring-rustiness it is time for the season to get going in earnest this weekend.
Early pace setters Chelsea are in action in the Super Cup against Atletico Madrid on Friday night so they do not play this weekend. And that gives the rest of the pack the chance to claw back some ground. But the only other teams with 100 per cent records are Everton and Swansea, so whatever happens this weekend the Blues will still be above their main title rivals.
The most enticing game of the weekend looks to be the Sunday lunchtime clash between Liverpool and Arsenal.
Both teams have had a turbulent summer, with the Reds acquiring a new manager and a host of new players. They have also offloaded perhaps their most controversial asset, striker Andy Carroll, who was bought by Kenny Dalglish in 2011 for £35m and has failed to live up to the hype ever since.
Among the new arrivals at Liverpool is one Nuri Sahin, who needs no introduction to Arsenal fans, who believed they had signed him earlier in the summer only for the deal to fall through at the last minute. The 23-year-old, on a season-long loan from Real Madrid, is now set to make his Liverpool debut on Sunday. Teenage sensation Raheem Sterling could also feature for the Reds after an impressive showing against Man City last week, while another youngster, Joe Allen, has also made a good start to life at Anfield.
As for Arsenal, it will be interesting to see if Theo Walcott gets a run out after all the speculation over his future in recent days, or whether Arsene Wenger sticks with the front four of Gervinho plus new arrivals Lucas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and new Gunners hero Santi Cazorla.
Arsenal have yet to score this season and going three games without finding the net would be seen as unacceptable by many fans. Every minute that goes by without an Arsenal goal only raises more questions about the controversial sale of Robin van Persie and the players brought in to replace him.
Wenger also has problems at the back, where Vito Mannone is set to continue in goal and Carl Jenkinson deputises for Bacary Sagna once again. Laurent Koscielny faces a late fitness test. However, the good news is that Arsenal have yet to concede a goal this season.
Liverpool were woeful against West Brom onm the opening day, but improved immeasurably against Manchester City last week. If they play like they did against the champions they could inflict a first defeat of the season on Arsenal.
Elsewhere this weekend Manchester City fans will be hoping it doesn't take a dramatic injury time winner to beat QPR as it did on the final day of the season. City have made a stuttering start to their campaign, only just overcoming Southampton and then drawing with Liverpool.
There could be some new arrivals at the Etihad by the time this one kicks off and they should be able to beat QPR, who were thrashed 5-0 by Swansea on the opening day. Although the likes of Esteban Granero and Julio Cesar are interesing arrivals.
On Sunday afternoon Southampton welcome Manchester United to St Mary's as their baptism of fire in the Premier League continues. United found their rhythm against Fulham last week and should win this one.
Also on Sunday Newcastle will hope to confirm their status as top-four contenders and make Aston Villa look even more like relegation candidates with a win at St James's Park.
Saturday's games see West Ham take on Fulham in a London derby that could see Andy Carroll make his Hammers debut. After that Swansea take on Sunderland, Spurs welcome Norwich to White Hart Lane, Everton travel to West Brom and Wigan entertain Stoke. ·