Spurs to finally topple Arsenal as Liverpool take on Man Utd
Premier League preview: will this weekend see a decisive shift in the balance of power?
WEEK THREE and the Premier League is well and truly under way with two huge clashes on Sunday that might not decide the top fourbut will give a good indication of where the main contenders are.
It's also the last round of games before the transfer window slams shut, so managers will be scrutinising their teams for weaknesses one last time before spending Monday desperately trying to fill any gaps.
After some tasty-looking encounters involving teams further down the table on Saturday, the main event comes on Sunday in the form of two bitter derby clashes involving four sides with designs on the top four, if not the title itself.
The most eagerly-anticipated, by a whisker, will be Spurs' trip to Arsenal at 4pm. The balance of power in north London has been threatening to shift for a couple of seasons and this campaign could be the one in which Tottenham finally get the better of the Gunners.
Gareth Bale may be on his way to Real Madrid but Andre Villas-Boas has been active in the transfer market this summer and added some real quality to the Spurs squad, which now looks highly impressive and has strength in depth. Striker Roberto Soldado has four goals in three games so far this season, while Paulinho has slotted into midfield perfectly.
Etienne Capoue adds cover in the middle of the pitch and with Erik Lamela, Vlad Chiriches and Christian Eriksen also expected to sign before the window shuts Spurs fans have plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
Not so fans of Arsenal, who will not be looking forward to this clash with much optimism. So far this summer Arsene Wenger has managed to bring in just two new players, untested striker Yaya Sanogo and utility player Mathieu Flamini, returning for his second stint at the club after being released by AC Milan.
Both arrived on a free transfer and Gunners supporters are still wondering if their side will manage a big-name signing, after being promised that this summer would be a game-changer.
Manager Arsene Wenger insists he is happy with his current squad, but he cannot be happy with the injuries that have affected it. Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thomas Vermaelen will all be missing for this game and there were question-marks over Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere after the visit of Fenerbahce on Tuesday.
Arsenal look threadbare, and defeat against Spurs, who have a 100 per cent record this season, could have the same seismic impact as the famous 8-2 rout by Manchester United two years ago and trigger a full-scale revolt at the Emirates. A win would be very welcome, but many would see it as merely papering over the cracks for the Gunners.
Before that clash at the Emirates there is the small matter of Liverpool v. Manchester United at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers's Liverpool side, like Spurs, have a 100 per cent Premier League record this season, albeit after only two games. However, they have looked like a side that means business and Daniel Sturridge up front has been sensational. He, like Soldado, has four goals in three outings this term.
New goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has also been in excellent form and Liverpool have him to thank for their tally of six points. Another new arrival, Iago Aspas, has slotted in well and much is expected of young Brazilian Philippe Coutinho.
In a way, Liverpool have benefited from the Luis Suarez saga this summer, as it has taken the spotlight off the rest of the squad, who have been able to prepare for the campaign in relative peace. Suarez now looks unlikely to leave Anfield this summer, but if Liverpool carry on this season the way they began it he might find it hard to break back into the team when he is available again.
Manchester United may have a new manager in David Moyes but expectations at Old Trafford are as high as ever. His side impressed against Swansea on the opening day, but could not break down Chelsea at Old Trafford on Monday night. It will be interesting to see how they, and Wayne Rooney in particular, approach this match.
Will Moyes prove himself a cautious boss, intent on avoiding an embarrassing defeat in only his third league game in charge, or will he go for it and send a warning to the rest of the Premier League that United are champions and scared of no one? Liverpool will want to send out a message as well, and the Kop will sense an opportunity to reclaim the perch that Sir Alex Ferguson's United stole from them.
The visitors may have the edge in this one, thanks in part to the exploits of Notts County, who took Liverpool to extra time in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night and left them without injured central defender Kolo Toure.
Man City v Hull (12.45)
Cardiff v Everton
Newcastle v Fulham
Norwich v Southampton
West Ham v Stoke
Crystal Palace v Sunderland (17.30)
Liverpool v Man Utd (13.30)
West Brom v Swansea (13.30)
Arsenal v Tottenham (16.00) ·