English Premier League: Guide to Every Fixture This Weekend

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterSeptember 20, 2012

English Premier League: Guide to Every Fixture This Weekend

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    Two rivalries, one age-old and the other much newer, dominate the English Premier League fixture list this weekend.

    In the former, Liverpool host Manchester United in a matchup of England's two most historically successful clubs. The match always inspires passion, and this season's first showdown should be especially dramatic.

    In the latter, Manchester City host Arsenal in a clash of styles. Mega-rich City have stormed to the top of the Premier League with an unprecedented spending spree—sometimes at Arsenal's expense—while Arsenal have slipped behind their more wealthy neighbors.

    Those aren't the only matches of the weekend, of course. Read on for match-by-match guides for all 10 fixtures.

    Click here for the league table.

Swansea City vs. Everton

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    Details: Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET (all times Eastern), Liberty Stadium, Swansea

    TV: ESPN2, ESPN Deportes (all listings for U.S. market)

    The skinny: Both teams have played four matches, so the surprise factor is wearing off for both. What's more, both also dealt with disappointment last time.

    Swansea kicked off the season with a 5-0 thumping of Queens Park Rangers at QPR's Loftus Road. The momentum slowed last weekend with a disappointing 2-0 loss at lowly Aston Villa.

    Everton, meanwhile, knocked off Manchester United in both teams' first match and followed that with a 3-1 win at Villa. Since then, though, the Toffees just have collected one point from the last six available.

    Of course, that's glossing over the fact that Everton were robbed blind this past Monday against Newcastle, as the goal-line curse struck again.

    Question is, who's for real and who's just pretending?

Chelsea vs. Stoke City

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    Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Stamford Bridge, London

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The skinny: Chelsea drew at QPR last weekend. Stoke always, always, always draw (4-of-4 so far this campaign). So it's a sharing-is-caring party in West London this weekend, right?

    Maybe, but Chelsea have been the league's best team so far through four games. And though Oscar stole the headlines midweek in the Champions League, Eden Hazard has been the Premiership's standout performer to date.

    Stoke will, of course, defend deep, sit back, pack the box, park the bus and whatever other defensive cliche is available.

    Can Chelsea and Hazard (or maybe Oscar?) end Tony Pulis' dream of a full season's worth of draws?

Southampton vs. Aston Villa

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    Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton

    TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, 2 p.m.)

    The skinny: Ladies and gentlemen, the Yuck Bowl.

    Southampton, the league's only team yet to claim a single point, lost 6-1 to Arsenal last weekend. Fingers crossed, this might be the weekend!

    Aston Villa actually won last time, beating Swansea 2-0 at home. And that, everyone, was the club's first league win since March 10.

    No, really.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Reading

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    Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., The Hawthorns, West Bromwich

    TV: Fox Soccer Plus (live)

    The skinny: Sadly, our eyeballs won't be seared by West Brom's away kit again this weekend. Fortunately, though, the Baggies have been pretty good, especially at home, where they've won twice by a combined score of 5-0.

    Reading, well, they're having problems. Last weekend's 3-1 loss to Spurs was the Royals' first league match in more than weeks, and afterward, Brian McDermott had to put out a Twitter-based fire in his squad (via The Independent).

    #BaggieBlowout?

West Ham United vs. Sunderland

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    Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Upton Park, London

    TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, 4 p.m.)

    The skinny: West Ham really aren't all that hard to figure out. Sam Allardyce and his Hammers play Route 1 football. They win at home, and they lose on the road. Just look at the stats.

    Home: two wins, no draws, no losses, four goals scored and none conceded.

    Away: no wins, one draw, one loss, one goal scored and seven conceded.

    Notice a pattern?

    Sunderland, meanwhile, are actively trying to match Stoke's impressive record of drawing as many matches as humanly possible. The twist is, they're also trying to have one guy score every single goal.

    So far, they're 3-of-3 on the draws, with new striker Steven Fletcher scoring all three of their goals.

Wigan Athletic vs. Fulham

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    Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., DW Stadium, Wigan

    TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, noon)

    The skinny: No one really knows what's going to happen in this game, and maybe that's why you should watch.

    Wigan are flying dangerously close to the sun, risking the football gods' wrath with their bold climb all the way to 14th place. The yearly relegation fight is in jeopardy, but there's still plenty of time to turn that around.

    In the meantime, we've seen a few miraculous signs and wonders, notably Franco Di Santo scoring in consecutive games for the first time, we're willing to bet, ever.

    Fulham, well, they're West Ham in white kits: win at home impressively, lose away badly.

    Thing is, they've got Dimitar Berbatov now, and he's The Continental. That should stop fans from staring longingly out the window and daydreaming about Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey—at least for a little while.

Liverpool vs. Manchester United

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    Details: Sunday, 8:30 a.m., Anfield, Liverpool

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The skinny: Come on. You know what's up.

    These teams hate each other. The two sets of fans chant about the other's most tragic moment, and last year, during an especially testy match, a bit of racism popped up.

    Yay, football!

    This season it's been a nightmare from the start for Liverpool, except for the vindication of the latest Hillsborough report.

    Manchester United are, of course, right near the top of the league. Wayne Rooney could be back, and if not, United have a fancy new striker to show off, some guy who did this for another team at Anfield last season.

Newcastle United vs. Norwich City

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    Details: Sunday, 10 a.m., Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle

    TV: Fox Soccer Plus (delayed, 1 p.m.)

    The skinny: Newcastle benefited from the latest goal-line controversy, but even so, the Magpies are a disappointing 11th in the table through four matches.

    Norwich could be just the team to fix that. Under new boss Chris Hughton, the Canaries have drawn three of their four matches while scoring just twice and conceding seven times. Wait, that can't be right, can it?

    Anyway, whether it's Demba Ba or Papiss Cisse who decides to be brilliant for the day, Newcastle should have at least one match-winning striker available.

    The key word there, of course, is "should."

Manchester City vs. Arsenal

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    Details: Sunday, 11 a.m., Etihad Stadium, Manchester

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The skinny: These teams only started disliking each other recently. Really, though, to outsiders, it must seem like a cross between symbiosis and a jealous lovers' quarrel.

    In a nutshell, it goes something like this: Arsenal's coaches develop young talent. Manchester City's scouts find out about that talent. Manchester City's investors wave crazy money at Arsenal's talent. Arsenal's talent becomes Manchester City's talent. Arsenal get bupkis besides, well, giant wads of cash.

    Everybody wins, except that Manchester City actually won the title last season. Even so, Arsenal defeated Manchester City in the last meeting between the teams, and when it happened, Twitter almost melted down as Gooners taunted Samir Nasri.

    Nasri won't play this weekend, but that won't matter. Hate has no bounds, especially not the treatment table.

    As for the game, Arsenal have all the momentum after beating Southampton 6-1 last weekend. They also edged Montpellier midweek in the Champions League, while City lost 3-2 at Real Madrid.

    Santi Cazorla is every Gooner's new BFF, and Lukas Podolski is the German RvP (OK, maybe not). And that, of course, means they'll be wearing City blue within 12 months.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Queens Park Rangers

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    Details: Sunday, 11 a.m., White Hart Lane, London

    TV: Fox Soccer Plus (live)

    The skinny: Spurs finally grabbed their first league win last weekend, beating a rusty Reading side 3-1 away.

    This time, Andre Villas-Boas' men have a home date with Queens Park Rangers and their suddenly formidable roster. That new-look lineup contains a central midfield duo—Esteban Granero and Alejandro Faurlin—that can compete with any in the Premier League.

    Spurs have a few shiny new roster additions of their own, including former Fulham stars Moussa Dembele and American Clint Dempsey.

    So, whose signings are better?