Following a pause of Premier League action to accommodate the international break, all 20 teams are back in domestic action this weekend.
Manchester United vs Watford
Manchester United kick us off with a visit to Vicarage Road, where they’ll face a Watford side who have started the season in relatively good form. United are set to be missing Anthony Martial, who limped off whilst playing for France against England on Tuesday evening. Watford have picked up their form of late and have a constant threat in striker Odion Ighalo, who has scored an impressive 7 goals in 12 league games for the Hornets. Wayne Rooney scored for England in midweek and Jesse Lingard is also in confident form so United will pose a threat themselves, but with both sides defensively sound then it could be a low scoring affair on Saturday lunchtime.
West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal
Arsenal then travel to West Bromwich Albion knowing that at least a draw will see them move top of the Premier League table, albeit for 24 hours when Manchester City could jump back above the Gunners. Albion are coming off the back of an impressive 1-0 victory at Norwich City, and with Salomon Rondon and Saido Berahino in their attack then they’ll be keeping Arsenal’s rear-guard busy. However, Albion do ship a goal or two against attacking sides at home, and have concdeded 16 in total over the opening 12 matches with Arsenal netting 22, so there could be goals both ways at the Hawthorns. Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all set to miss out again, with Albion having more-or-less a fully fit squad to choose from.
Everton vs Aston Villa
Remi Garde’s first away match in charge of Aston Villa will see his side travel to Everton this weekend. They’ll be buoyed by the fact they kept a rare clean sheet against table-topping Manchester City two weeks ago in what was a much more cohesive, tactically sound performance from Villa. Everton are in fine goalscoring form and netted 6 goals against Sunderland in their last outing at Goodison Park with Romeu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu in particularly good form of late, along with Arouna Kone who bagged a hat-trick in that match. It will be another test of Villa’s new-found defensive resolve, and they’ll look to unleash the pace of Scott Sinclair and Jordan Ayew by hitting Everton on the counter attack with Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines still missing at the back for the Toffees.
Southampton vs Stoke City
Two of the teams tipped to challenge for a European spot this season meet this weekend as Southampton host Stoke City. The home side have put together an eight match unbeaten run in league and cup competitions over the last 6 weeks, moving them up to 7th in the table and just 4 points off the Champions League places. Stoke have been steady this season, winning 4, drawing 4 and losing 4 in their opening 12 games. St Mary’s will be a difficult place for the Potters to pick up a result, however with the Saints’ natural style of play being expansive attacking football in an attempt to emphasise the threat of Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle, it could leave space for Xherdan Shaqiri, Jonathan Walters and Bojan to hurt them on the break.
Chelsea vs Norwich City
Under-fire Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has a must-win home game against Norwich City, who themselves are desperate for 3 points. Not many would’ve predicted that the Canaries would be above Chelsea in the league after 12 games, however they currently sit one point and place ahead of them going into Saturday’s game at the Bridge. Norwich beat Swansea 1-0 and pushed Manchester City all the way in the previous game (eventually losing 2-1) however they’re now beginning to hit form under Alex Neil and will be confident of picking up another result at the beleaguered Blues. However, Chelsea are a wounded animal this season and you feel it’s only a matter of time before they backlash and give somebody a mauling, which could well be this weekend as they look to get their season back on track before it’s too late.
Swansea City vs AFC Bournemouth
Two struggling teams of late, Swansea and Bournemouth, meet at the Liberty Stadium for a 3pm kick-off. Bournemouth can’t seem to buy a league win at the moment depsite playing good football and creating a hatful of chances. However, they’re really beginning to miss the impact of the attacking duo Max Gradel and Calum Wilson, who are both out with long-term knee injuries. Swansea began the season well, however boss Garry Monk has had his future questioned over recent weeks after picking up only 1 win in the last 9 games (all competitions). A win could take Bournemouth out of the bottom three, which would drag the Swans into a relegation battle themselves should other results go against them. Although, with the middle of the Premier League table being so tight, a win could move Monk’s men as high as 11th come 5pm on Saturday which would relieve some of the pressure on his job.
Newcastle United vs Leicester City
And in the final 3pm game this weekend, in-form Leicester City travel to Newcastle United. The Foxes could be without star-striker Jamie Vardy for the trip after the ex-Fleetwood man sat out both of England’s friendlies with a minor injury this week. Should he miss out, it’ll bring an end to the extraordinary goalscoring run he’s been on, having netted in 9 consecutive Premier League games. Claudio Ranieri’s side could even move top of the Premier League on Saturday should other results go their way, which would be a huge testament to the job that he has done since taking over in the summer. On the other hand, Newcastle are beginning to revive themselves after a patchy start to the season, and have picked up 4 points from their last 2 games. Ayoze Perez and Aleksander Mitrovic are beginning to form a good partnership upfront and they’ll be a big test for Leicester’s back four this weekend as they look to put some breathing space between themselves and the bottom 3.
Manchester City vs Liverpool
The evening kick-off on Saturday sees a clash of two big teams at the Etihad with Manchester City facing Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool. Despite being defeated by Crystal Palace at Anfield in game week 12, the Reds have had a good start under Klopp having lost just that one in his opening 7 games, including a 3-1 victory at Chelsea. Man City know that they’ll probably have to beat Liverpool if they want to remain top of the league this weekend, as Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester can all catch them should they fail to pick up 3 points. Sergio Aguero has a slim chance of being fit in time to play, and City could also welcome back David Silva to their starting XI which would both be big boosts for Manuel Pellegrini’s side. City are unbeaten in 9 games following the 4-1 trouncing at Tottenham in September, a run which has included two impressive Champions League away triumphs as well as two 5-1 league wins and a 6-1 win against Newcastle, so they’ll be full on confidence heading into this one.
Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United
On Sunday, the solitary game sees a London derby take place with Tottenham hosting away specialists West Ham United. Spurs have been brilliant to watch this season and have a squad full on confidence, with midfielders Dele Alli and Eric Dier making their England debuts this week, as well as Harry Kane finding himself back amongst the goals in recent weeks including the opening in last weekend’s North London Derby. However, they’ll be thoroughly tested by the Hammers in the 4pm kick-off after they’ve taken maximum points this season at Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Crystal Palace. Both teams could move into the top 4 if either was to gain the 3 points, and hope that United leave Watford empty handed.
Crystal Palace vs Sunderland
And the round the weekend’s action off on Monday evening, Crystal Palace host Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland at Selhurst Park. Sunderland initially started well under Big Sam after defeating fierce rivals Newcastle 3-0 on his debut, however they’ve since lost 6-2 to Everton and 1-0 to Southampton as they find themselves one place off bottom and 4 points from safety. Crystal Palace have enjoyed a fine start to the season and enflicted Klopp’s first defeat as Liverpool manager last time out, and will hope to be roared on to another 3 points by the impressive Selhurst crowd which will no doubt turn up another notch under the Monday evening floodlights. If Palace are serious about competing for a European place this season then these are the games that they’re going to have to find a way of winning, and with players like Yohan Cabaye and Yannick Bolasie they have the ability to pick through teams. Sunderland will cause a threat with the attacking options that they have available, with Jermain Defoe, Steven Fletcher and Fabio Borini all genuine goal threats given the right service. Defending has been Sunderland’s problem, so they’ll have to be compact as a team on Monday if they’re to avoid their third defeat in the last three.