Arsenal have point to prove at Palace, as Chelsea meet City
Premier League preview: Gunners must re-establish themselves as Man Utd fans get the jitters
THE BATTLE of the billionaires looms on Sunday as Chelsea welcome Man City to Stamford Bridge, while on Saturday Arsenal have the chance to restate their Premier League ambitions.
Arsene Wenger's men were undone in the Champions League on Tuesday, going from heroes to zeroes in the eyes of many. Now managerless Crystal Palace will find out if the Gunners' are still firing.
Liverpool and Spurs both have home games, and while they aim to keep up the pressure on the league leaders, Man United fans will probably watch their game against Stoke from behind the sofa.
Here's the best of the weekend's action:
Crystal Palace v Arsenal
Games don't get much more one-sided than this. Managerless Palace, who have lost their last five matches and have only one win (against Sunderland) all season, face league leaders Arsenal, who have been imperious at times this term. The Gunners' lost their two-month unbeaten record against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night, and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas has pointed out that they have had it relatively easy so far. That may be true, but it only highlights the need for Arsene Wenger's team to fill their boots against the lesser teams, and they should do just that at Selhurst Park. Ian Holloway's decision to stand down this week may well have been prompted by a look at the Palace fixture list. If Arsenal are not still top of the league on Sunday it will be a huge shock.
Man Utd v Stoke City
Once upon a time it would have been the Stoke fans who were most nervous about this fixture, but now it's likely to be the United faithful that are feeling the heat. Wayne Rooney seems to be enjoying life under new manager David Moyes, but the rest of the team look out of sorts. Under Moyes United have five points from four home games, and last week the unthinkable happened: the visitors to Old Trafford scored an equaliser in Fergie-time. To add to the sense of trepidation, this week’s visiting manager is Mark Hughes. Alex Ferguson used to make a habit of rubbing his former players' noses in it when they tried their hand at management, but now the United alumni may have their eyes on getting some revenge on Old Trafford. But the good news for United is that Hughes's Stoke side are horribly out of sorts and have scored just one goal in their last five league games. United badly need a convincing win, but they might have to settle for another unconvincing one.
Chelsea v Man City
The two biggest-spending teams in Premier League history come face to face at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, in a match that could have more significance than simply deciding which billionaire gets bragging rights. Both teams looked good last week, and both have designs on the title. However, the losers of this match will lose vital ground in the race to keep pace with league-leaders Arsenal. Both teams have also made a habit of following up good showings with lacklustre ones this season. Jose Mourinho has finally had some goals from his strikers, and it will be interesting to see who he selects up front on Sunday. Fernando Torres looks favourite to get the nod. As for City, they could welcome back Vincent Kompany at the back. But the game could be won in midfield. Will Yaya Toure be able to shut down the likes of Eden Hazard? Can David Silva exploit Chelsea's lack of defensive cover? Will Mourinho entrust madcap defender David Luiz with a place in his starting line-up, given the threat posed by City's strikers?
Liverpool v West Brom
The Reds looked like contenders at the start of the season, but they dropped two points against ten-man Newcastle last week and are in danger of letting their good start to the season slip away. Since beating Man United, they have only won two out of six games. They will need to get back to winning ways against West Brom at Anfield. The good news is that despite their indifferent form, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are firing on all cylinders. West Brom did the double over Liverpool last season, but the Reds will expect to prevail this time round.
Sunderland v Newcastle
A North East derby is an intense affair and for Gus Poyet it could not be a more daunting first home game in charge of Sunderland. Victory here could provide the Black Cats with some serious momentum, and should lift them off the bottom. Defeat would be a major blow both to his standing with the fans and his team's morale. But with Newcastle in decent form, Poyet and his band of underperforming players will do well to get anything out of the game. It will be full-on Sunday lunchtime rollercoaster, if nothing else.
The weekend's other fixtures:
SATURDAY: Aston Villa v Everton
Norwich v Cardiff
Southampton v Fulham
SUNDAY: Swansea v West Ham
Tottenham v Hull ·