English Premier League Week 5: 10 Storylines to Watch This Week
Welcome to Week 5 of the English Premier League, where big matchups reign supreme and enthralling battles are about to begin.
Welcome to Week 5 of the English Premier League, where the league's best will try and consolidate on their solid start and the six teams yet to record a win will desperately strive for their maiden victory this season.
Welcome to Week 5 of the English Premier League, and here are 10 storylines to watch out for this week.
1. Will Liverpool Get Their First Win?
Despite going winless through their opening four matches, Liverpool have shown that they have the ability and potential to pick up points this year—they just haven't been able to get the job done.
They were terribly unlucky not to win against Manchester City at Anfield earlier in the year, and had the Reds won that match, we most likely wouldn't be talking about their lack of a striker or their finishing inadequacies. One poor back pass, however, and we are.
The Merseyside club are at home to bitter rivals Manchester United, who picked up an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Galatasaray in the Champions League mid-week. The Red Devils have also won their last three Premier League matches, but for a rivalry match, you can nearly throw all form and league position out the window.
Both teams can win this one, and we could well see Rodgers pick up his first Premier League win as the Liverpool manager.
2. Can Swansea Jump into the Top Four?
Swansea City's incredible start to the Premier League season was somewhat halted by their 2-0 loss on the road to Aston Villa, but they'll be looking to prove themselves as a genuine contender this year with a home fixture against Everton.
David Moyes' side is a talented team and no doubt have European ambitions of their own, and enter this match after a frustrating 2-2 draw against Newcastle United—a match that probably should have finished 3-2 or even 4-2 to the Toffees.
A win for the Swans could well see them move back into the top four of the Premier League, but Everton will certainly be no pushover in this one. If they want to prove themselves as a genuine top-class team in the league this season, then these are the type of matches that they'll need to win.
3. Can West Bromwich Albion?
Similarly to Swansea, West Brom's good start to the year ended in defeat last week—going down at Craven Cottage to Fulham, with the resurrected Dimitar Berbatov firing the Cottagers to victory.
They'll be looking to bounce back this week, and have a great opportunity for that to happen with lowly Reading visiting the Hawthorns. The three points are seemingly there for the taking for the Baggies, but as we've learned already this year, no three points are certain in this league.
With several of the teams above them on the EPL ladder facing tough matches this week, a win for West Brom could well see Steve Clarke's men move into the top four.
4. Will RVP Find the Back of the Net Again?
Since making a spectacular transfer over the summer transfer window from Arsenal to Manchester United, striker Robin van Persie has been nothing short of excellent for his new club in the Premier League, and will look to continue his good form against Liverpool.
Van Persie is already the league's leading goal-scorer, and with the attacking talent around him, could well find the net against a Liverpool defense that has looked shaky at times this year—particularly in reference to goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
The Reds will be no doubt fired up for one of their biggest rivals, and RVP will of course receive plenty of defense attention, but the 29-year-old is more than capable of finding the back of the net despite whatever pressure and attention he is receiving.
The Dutch international netted an incredible game-winning goal in injury time last year on his trip to Anfield—can he do the same again this time around?
5. The Return of Sergio Aguero from Injury
According to the striker himself (per Goal), Sergio Aguero is fully recovered from his injury and should take his place in Manchester City's starting lineup this week—a huge addition for the Citizens given both his experience and finishing ability.
City are at home to Premier League giants Arsenal in a match that is shaping as one of the hottest fixtures this round and already is a must-win fixture for both clubs.
Depending on other results, either club could trail Chelsea and Manchester United by more than three points after this one and despite the fact that it's still early days this season, you don't want to be spotting clubs with their talent and skill any head start if possible.
Aguero's return coincides with the Citizens taking on the best defense in the Premier League so far, with the Gunners only conceding one goal so far this year—a goalkeeping mistake in their 6-1 thumping of Southampton last week.
It will be fascinating to see how the striker fares against the Gunners defense.
6. Are Stoke City Headed for Another Draw?
Through their opening four matches this year, Stoke City are yet to win and they are yet to lose—picking up four draws. The Potters have played decent teams in that time—notably Manchester City and Arsenal—and will take on another Premier League giant when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea this weekend.
Both draws against Arsenal and City came at home, and despite their consistency this season, you get the feeling that Tony Pulis' men will find it difficult to walk away from the London club with any points in hand after their match with the Blues.
Chelsea dropped crucial Champions League points mid-week at Stamford Bridge, and also dropped Premier League points last week against Queens Park Rangers. They still sit atop the EPL ladder, but are starting to increase the pressure on themselves and will be looking for a win here to build their confidence back to where it was before.
7. The Hillsborough Tragedy
After the much publicized Hillsborough report and discussion over the past few weeks, Manchester United supporters have been urged to show the respect to Liverpool fans that they deserve upon their trip to Anfield this week.
Both manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) have urged fans to not sing songs mocking the Hillsborough and Munich disasters (per The Daily Mail).
We agree 100 percent with the statement made by Sir Alex Ferguson and wish to leave no room for doubt – we unequivocally condemn chants mocking the Munich air crash, Hillsborough and indeed any other human tragedy,' reads the MUST statement.
As a United fan myself, hopefully a line can be drawn in the sand on this one. The rivalry between the two clubs is good, but not when it starts to become detrimental to the game and to the respect of families who lost loved ones in both disasters.
8. Will Any of the Big Four Fall This Week?
The Premier League's big four (Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal) all face tough matches this week, and we could see several—if not all—of them drop points this week.
City and Arsenal do battle at the Etihad, meaning that at least one of them will not be walking away with three points from that one, whilst United will travel to Liverpool and Chelsea will welcome Stoke.
Considering just how close the title race and top four was last season, winning big games will be crucial for all four teams' chances at both the trophy and Champions League qualification this year, and this could turn out to be a week that they look back on at the end of the year.
How they look back on it all depends on their performances this weekend.
9. Which of the Winlesss Seven Will Win?
Incredibly, after four weeks of football this year, seven teams in the English Premier League—Stoke City, Sunderland, Norwich City, Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers, Reading and Southampton—are still yet to pick up a victory in this year's competition. For the statistics nuts, that's over a third of teams without a win.
So which of the "Winless Seven" as I've aptly dubbed them will win this week, and who will continue their horror start to the 2012-13 Premier League year?
Stoke City are away to Chelsea, Liverpool play Manchester United, Reading face West Brom at the Hawthorns, Norwich travel to Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers face Spurs at White Hart Lane.
On the other hand, Southampton play Aston Villa at St. Mary's Stadium whilst Sunderland play West Ham, and if any team is going to win this week, you would think that these are the two fixtures most likely to produce a result for the Winless Seven.
10. Luis Suarez vs. Patrice Evra
Expect both Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra to receive plenty of camera coverage throughout their clash this week, with the pair's well-known animosity towards each other bound to be the subject of much discussion and speculation.
The pair had their infamous run-in after Suarez didn't shake Evra's hand, Evra then celebrated the victory right in front of Suarez after United beat Liverpool, and then the pair clashed as they were heading off the pitch.
Managers from both clubs are reportedly confident that the pair will shake hands (per BBC Sport), though you simply never know what is going to transpire.
A more-than-fascinating sub-plot to watch unfold throughout the course of the weekend.
What are you looking forward to in the EPL this week?
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