English Premier League: Guide to Every Fixture This Weekend
Marquee matchups headline the English Premier League fixture list again this weekend.
Arsenal will host Chelsea in a high-stakes London derby in Saturday's early kickoff, while Manchester United entertain Tottenham Hotspur in the late game. Elsewhere, Everton look to continue their hot start, and Fulham aim to upset the defending champions.
Here's what to expect from every match scheduled this weekend.
Arsenal vs. Chelsea
Details: Saturday, 7:45 a.m. ET (all times Eastern), Emirates Stadium, London
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3 (live)
Background: Chelsea top the table with 13 points, and Arsenal are fifth with nine. Both teams are still unbeaten. Chelsea's last win at the Emirates came in November 2009.
The Skinny: The breaking news is that Chelsea captain and defender John Terry has been banned four matches and fined £220,000 for racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand during a match last year (via BBC Sport). A British court found Terry not guilty in the incident earlier this year (via The Guardian).
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is close to returning after missing 14 months through injury, but the 20-year-old's first match back will probably be Monday for Arsenal's Under-21 team (via The Guardian).
Arsenal's suddenly stingy defense has allowed only two goals this season, and both resulted directly from an error by a keeper. And after struggling to score early, the Gunners have knocked in six goals in two of their last four matches (one in the Premier League and one in the Capital One Cup).
Though Terry will miss out (UPDATE: Or maybe he will play), Chelsea still have oodles of talent in the ranks, from new signings Eden Hazard and Oscar to defensive "veterans" like Gary Cahill and David Luiz. Like Arsenal, Chelsea have allowed only two goals and scored nine.
If Chelsea win, they'll cement their status as the team to beat early in the season. If Arsenal win, they will have to be considered genuine contenders (even though some people already think they are).
In other words, this one should be tasty.
Everton vs. Southampton
Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Goodison Park, Liverpool, England
TV: Fox Soccer Plus (delayed, 2 p.m.)
Background: Everton are third with 10 points, Southampton 16th with three. The last league meeting between these teams came in 2005, and Southampton's last win over Everton came in 2002.
The Skinny: Why on Earth is this match not being televised live in the U.S.? Everton are the toast of the league, with Marouane Fellaini's smooth-jazz hair, Nikica Jelavic's lethal first touch and Leighton Baines' cultured left foot.
David Moyes' team finds itself flying high in third place, having beaten Manchester United, Aston Villa and Swansea City.
OK, so Southampton are 16th, but they can't seem to be capable of playing a boring match. After a pair of 3-2 losses to the Manchester clubs, the Saints dropped a 6-1 decision to Arsenal and then beat Aston Villa 4-1.
Through five games, Nigel Adkins' men have scored nine goals—the same number as Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Expect excitement. Just don't expect to see it on TV in America.
Fulham vs. Manchester City
Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Craven Cottage, London
TV: Fox Soccer (live)
Background: Manchester City, the defending champions, are seventh with nine points. Fulham are sixth, also with nine points but a superior goal differential.
The Skinny: Two words: Upset alert.
Fulham are always dangerous at home. This season, the Cottagers have won both of their home matches so far by a combined 8-0 score. Last season, they won 10, drew five and lost four, beating Liverpool (before they were completely rubbish), Arsenal (way after their slow start) and Newcastle (by a score of 5-2).
This fixture ended in a 2-2 draw last season, and this time, Fulham have Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov, who was an inspired signing from Manchester United.
City, meanwhile, haven't kept a clean sheet yet, but are still undefeated on the season. Could that change this weekend?
Norwich City vs. Liverpool
Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Carrow Road, Norwich, England
TV: Fox Soccer Plus (live)
Background: Liverpool, the 18-time champions of England, are 18th and in the relegation zone with two points from five matches. Norwich (17th, three points) are faring little better under new manager Chris Hughton.
The Skinny: Brendan Rodgers remains winless in the league as Liverpool's manager, but his team's performances have been surprisingly good. The Reds controlled much of the match last weekend when they lost to Manchester United, and Nuri Sahin's brace secured a midweek win over West Brom in the Capital One Cup.
Also winless, Norwich have drawn three times but scored only two goals on the season.
For once, Liverpool's aversion to scoring might not matter. One goal might make the difference.
Reading vs. Newcastle United
Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Madejski Stadium, Reading, England
TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, 2:30 p.m.)
Background: Reading sit at the bottom of the table with one point through four matches. Newcastle are 10th with eight points. The most recent league meeting between the two came in the Championship in 2010, when Newcastle won 2-1 away.
The Skinny: Demba Ba has rediscovered his scoring touch, and Newcastle look primed for a run.
The Senegalese striker scored last week in the win over Norwich and had two more against Everton the week before. With four league goals on the season, he's tied for fourth in the league.
Reading's first and only point came on opening day. Look for their dry spell to continue.
Stoke City vs. Swansea City
Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent, England
TV: Fox Soccer Plus (delayed, 4 p.m.)
Background: Stoke are 13th with four points, all from draws. Swansea are 11th with seven points.
The Skinny: Swansea blazed through the competition early in the season, winning their first two matches by a combined 8-0 score. Since then, Michael Laudrup's men have collected one point from the last nine available.
Stoke drew their first four matches before finally losing to Chelsea last week. Might a first win be in the cards?
Sunderland vs. Wigan Athletic
Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Stadium of Light, Sunderland, England
TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, 4:30 p.m.)
Background: Sunderland are 12th with four points, all from draws. Wigan are 15th with four points but an inferior goal differential.
The Skinny: Sunderland took over Stoke's mantle last week as the Premier League's draw kings. Through four matches, the Black Cats have scored four, conceded four, drawn four and collected four points.
One more tetramerous stat: New signing Steven Fletcher has scored all four of those goals. Yes, I did just look that up in a thesaurus.
After a decent start to the season, Wigan have lost two in a row and are tumbling down the table, rapidly heading for their yearly date with the relegation scrap.
Manchester United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Details: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Old Trafford, Manchester, England
TV: Fox Soccer (live)
Background: Manchester United are second with 12 points. Tottenham are eighth with eight.
The Skinny: Manchester United own this fixture. The Red Devils have not lost to Spurs in the league since May 19, 2001, the final day of a campaign in which United won the title by 10 points.
Last season, United won both league fixtures by a combined 6-1 score. This time, they enter as the league's top-scoring team with 12 goals (tied with Fulham). And what's more, Wayne Rooney is back from injury.
The Andre Villas-Boas era is picking up steam after back-to-back league wins, but United will present a much stiffer challenge than QPR and Reading.
On the other hand, Spurs winning would make quite the statement.
Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion
Details: Sunday, 11 a.m., Villa Park, Birmingham, England
TV: Fox Soccer (live)
Background: West Brom are fourth with 10 points. Aston Villa are 14th with four.
The Skinny: Aston Villa have dominated this local rivalry over the years, but West Brom have won two out of the last three. The Baggies come into this one flying high after wins over Liverpool, Everton and Reading.
After picking up their first win two weeks ago, Villa slumped to an ugly 4-1 loss at Southampton last week. That's why manager Paul Lambert looks so excited in that picture, which was taken during Villa's victory over Manchester City this week in the Capital One Cup.
Depressing thought: That win might just turn out to be the highlight of Villa's season.
Queens Park Rangers vs. West Ham United
Details: Monday, 3 p.m., Loftus Road, London
TV: ESPN2, ESPN3 (live)
Background: QPR are 19th with two points. West Ham are ninth with eight.
The Skinny: Mark Hughes and QPR can't seem to buy a break. Rangers dominated the midfield battle for long stretches against both Tottenham (last week) and Chelsea (the week before), but came away with only one point.
So, are they a good bad team? Or are they a bad good team? Or do the new signings need more time?
This is for sure: Esteban Granero and Alejandro Faurlin make one heck of a central midfield partnership.
As for West Ham, the Hammers have shown indifferent form on the road this season, losing badly to Swansea and drawing with Norwich in a dour contest.
This could finally be QPR's week. Maybe.