EPL: 6 Key Battles to Watch This Weekend
This weekend's Premier League fixtures include some tantalizing matches. Liverpool and Manchester United will clash at Anfield, while Arsenal travel to Manchester City looking to extend their good start to the season.
There are some other intriguing matches, too. Everton taking on Swansea in Saturday's early kickoff and Stoke make the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Just like last week, it's time to look at six key battles that will take place over the weekend.
Southampton vs. Aston Villa
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To say that Southampton have had a tough start in the Premier League is an understatement.
Away fixtures at Manchester City and Arsenal and playing Manchester United at home probably wouldn't have been Nigel Adkins' ideal choice.
As well as this team played against both Manchester clubs, they were comprehensively beaten at the Emirates last week when Arsenal hit them for six.
They're the only side in the Premier League without any points, which is something the Saints will want to rectify as quickly as possible.
By contrast, visitors Aston Villa, who have picked up four points from their last two games, will go into the game with some confidence.
Paul Lambert is still trying to settle in at Villa Park, but he'll be pleased with how his squad has done over their last two games.
This could be one of the games of the weekend, with both sides keen on getting the ball down and playing a nice, passing game.
For Nigel Adkins, I think points will be the priority. He'd rather play badly and win than play well and lose yet again.
He'll be looking for a reaction from his players after the walloping they got last Saturday. If the Saints are to stay up this season, their form at St Mary's will be key.
Swansea vs. Everton
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In the same fixture last season, Everton came away with three points after goals from Leighton Baines and Nikica Jelavic secured a rare away win for the Blues.
The season might only be a few weeks old, but these two sides have made impressive starts.
Swansea started the season in blistering form with eight goals in their first two games, while Everton beat Manchester United and Villa in their first two matches.
All signs point to this one being an entertaining game with plenty of attacking football and chances galore.
Everton will be disappointed that they didn't come away with all three points on Monday against Newcastle, so David Moyes will be after a reaction from his side.
Meanwhile, Michael Laudrup tasted defeat for the first time as Swansea boss last time out. Therefore, he'll be looking to make sure that the Swans maintain their unbeaten start at home.
This one's hard to predict, but if Swansea can find a way to stop Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, there's every chance that they'll come away with three points at lunchtime on Saturday.
Chelsea vs. Stoke City
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When these sides met at Stamford Bridge last season, Didier Drogba's goal was enough to earn three points for Chelsea.
This time around, Stoke are coming off a creditable 1-1 draw with Manchester City thanks to a controversial goal from Peter Crouch.
Chelsea might have started the season in fine form with three wins from their first three games, but they've not won any of their last three games since being thumped 4-1 by Atletico Madrid.
Fernando Torres has yet to find his best form for the Blues. However, with Oscar scoring twice in midweek against Juventus and Eden Hazard off to an excellent start, this team will be confident heading into the game.
Stoke are always a tough side to beat, whether it's home or away, so Chelsea will need to be at their best to see off Tony Pulis' side.
Pulis has a wild card up his sleeve in the form of Michael Owen, and who's to say that he won't make an impact against the European champions on Saturday?
Newcastle vs. Norwich
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When these sides met at St. James Park (I refuse to call it the Sports Direct Arena!) in March, Papiss Cisse scored the only goal of the game as Newcastle won to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
On Sunday, Chris Hughton returns to the club where many feel he was dealt a bad hand when he was sacked a couple of years ago.
He's a talented young coach and it's good to see him back in the Premier League.
Since their 5-0 thrashing away at Fulham on the opening day, the Canaries have been a lot more solid defensively and they'll be confident of coming away from St James' with a result on Sunday.
Newcastle are playing in the Europa League in midweek, but Demba Ba has been left out of the squad (according to The Guardian). With Papiss Cisse also missing because of an illness, the squad will be relatively inexperienced.
Newcastle's priority this season has to be the Premier League. The fact they've left both of their star strikers at home seems to indicate that they'll be hunting for three points when Norwich come calling on Sunday.
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
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These sides go into Sunday's titanic clash in differing form.
City will feel unlucky. The Manchester outfit drew with Stoke last weekend and were outdone in the last five minutes against Real Madrid in the Champions League in midweek.
On the other hand, Arsenal hit Southampton for six last weekend before traveling to Montpellier in midweek and coming from behind to win 2-1.
City's home record is frightening at the moment.
It's been almost two years since they lost at home in the league. They never look like they're going to lose at the Etihad.
Arsenal will provide a tough test for the reigning champions when they visit on Sunday, as they're also unbeaten this season.
After two goalless draws to start the year, they've won three on the bounce now and will be confident heading up to Manchester.
Arsene Wenger hasn't won a trophy since the FA Cup in 2005, and if they're to send out a statement of intent for the season ahead, there's no better way to do it than by taking three points off the champions.
It will be tough, but in Santi Cazorla, Wenger might just have the key to ending City's long unbeaten run at home in the Premier League.
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
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For the second weekend in a row, a "will they, won't they?" pregame handshake controversy between two players at the center of a racism row has got everyone talking.
Will Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra shake hands? I don't know, but to be honest, the Premier League can avoid the whole situation by scrapping the pregame handshake ritual altogether.
It's pretty simple—if you take away the situation, the problem of the handshake doesn't exist.
The rivalry that's existed between these clubs over the years should be enough to get people watching without all these outside issues.
I said last week that Brendan Rodgers wouldn't want to go into a game with United without a league win under his belt, but that's the situation he finds himself in.
A goal from Suarez earned Liverpool a point against Sunderland last weekend, whereas United thumped Wigan 4-0 and beat Galatasaray by a single goal in their opening Champions League game in midweek.
If you're looking at this on paper, the only result should be a Manchester United win.
However, this game is never decided on current form. It's almost like a derby in that respect.
Form goes out of the window.
The Liverpool fans will demand a performance from their players against United, just as the United fans will.
The problem is, I don't see where Liverpool's goals will come from.
Although Wayne Rooney is injured, United still have Robin van Persie and Chicharito at their disposal. Therefore, their strength in depth will probably see them leave Anfield with all three points on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers will still be searching for his first league win in charge of Liverpool.