English Premier League: Weekend Guide to Every Fixture

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterOctober 4, 2012

English Premier League: Weekend Guide to Every Fixture

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    Last week, Spurs upset Manchester United, Chelsea underlined their title credentials and Manchester City pulled off a comeback with a late winner.

    What will the English Premier League have in store this weekend.

    Ten more matches are on the schedule this weekend, and we've got all the details for you right here.

    Click here for the full league table.

Manchester City vs. Sunderland

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

    TV: ESPN2 (all listings for American market)

    The Skinny: City still haven't kept a clean sheet, but last week's comeback victory at Fulham—capped by Edin Dzeko's dramatic winner moments after coming on as a substitute—could turn into a rallying point for the champions.

    Javi Garcia left Wednesday's Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund with a thigh injury, and his backup, Jack Rodwell, still seems error-prone. Keeper Joe Hart, meanwhile, was brilliant against Dortmund and continues to develop into a top-class stopper.

    Sunderland are still undefeated on the season, with four draws and one win. The Black Cats have scored only five goals, and all of those have come from new signing Steven Fletcher. Midfielder Lee Cattermole will miss out while serving a suspension.

    Could this be the week City finally keep a clean sheet? Or will Fletcher shine again?

Chelsea vs. Norwich City

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

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The Skinny: Chelsea top the table with 16 points from six matches. The Blues underlined their title credentials with a deserved victory at Arsenal last weekend.

    Playmakers Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar are reinventing Chelsea, turning Roberto Di Matteo's side into an exciting, creative team that bears little resemblance to Jose Mourinho's title-winning teams of years past.

    Lost in all the excitement is this fact: Chelsea have allowed only three goals—the best defensive record in the league.

    Norwich are one of three Premier League teams yet to win a match. They're 18th with three points, and last weekend, the Canaries were destroyed by struggling Liverpool.

Swansea City vs. Reading

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    Details: Saturday, 10 a.m., Liberty Stadium, Swansea

    TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, 3:30 p.m.)

    The Skinny: Swansea were once the league's most pleasantly surprising team—two wins by a combined 8-0 score in the first two weeks of the season—but they are now tumbling down the table.

    Michael Laudrup's Swans have taken just one point from the last 12 available, though they still have seven points and sit 11th in the table.

    Reading—another of the league's three winless clubs—could be just what Swansea need. The Royals have a negative-five goal differential and have lost both away matches this season.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Queens Park Rangers

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

    TV: Fox Soccer (delayed, 5:30 p.m.)

    The Skinny: It's one of the league's surprise packages against its most disappointing side.

    West Brom lost manager Roy Hodgson to the England national team at the end of last season. Under first-year manager Steve Clarke—who had no full-time managerial experience before the season—the Baggies are flying high in sixth place with 11 points.

    Shane Long and on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku have two goals apiece. And apart from a 3-0 defeat at Fulham last month, the Baggies have kept three clean sheets and allowed only two goals.

    QPR, on the other hand, have been a major disappointment. Manager Mark Hughes brought in a number of high-profile signings, including midfielder Esteban Granero from Real Madrid, midfielder Park Ji-Sung from Manchester United and goalkeeper Julio Cesar from Inter Milan.

    Granero has played well in the midfield, and QPR have at times dominated opponents, but for all the new signings, Rangers have yet to win a match in the league this season. In fact, they sit at the bottom of the table with just two points and a goal differential of negative-nine.

    Samba Diakite is suspended after receiving a red card Monday against West Ham, but that's the least of QPR's problems.

Wigan Athletic vs. Everton

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

    TV: Fox Soccer Plus (live)

    The Skinny: Wigan manager Roberto Martinez drew a fine from the FA this week for his comments about officials following Wigan's loss to Manchester United earlier this season (via Daily Telegraph). The punishment serves as an emblem for the frustration brewing around the DW Stadium lately.

    After taking four points from their opening three matches, the Latics have lost three straight, including that 4-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester United last month. Martinez and his team are now in 16th place with four points, only one point above the relegation zone.

    Everton's season has played out just the opposite. The Toffees upset Manchester United in the season's first weekend and have lost only once (to West Brom).

    David Moyes' team of upstarts is becoming the scrappy favorite of neutral fans. Another victory would only further the idea that this start is no fluke.

West Ham United vs. Arsenal

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    Details: Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Upton Park, London

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The Skinny: With Monday's 2-1 victory at QPR, West Ham vaulted over Arsenal into seventh place in the table. Coincidentally, the two square off in a suddenly tasty London derby this weekend.

    Arsenal lost at home to Chelsea last weekend, and the Gunners are now a disappointing eighth in the table. Gervinho has been a bit of a revelation in his new role as a central striker, but apart from Arsenal's 6-1 victory over Southampton last month, the Gunners have scored only four goals in five matches.

    West Ham's direct, physical approach will probably yield at least one goal against Arsenal's inconsistent defense, and there's a good chance it will come on a set piece. Question is: Can Arsenal score some goals of their own?

Southampton vs. Fulham

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    Details: Sunday, 8:30 a.m., The Friends Provident Stadium at St. Mary's, Southampton

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The Skinny: This one should be entertaining.

    Southampton have been involved in more goals than any other Premier League team this season. The Saints have scored 10 and allowed 18 for a total of 28 goals in their six matches. That's almost five per game.

    Rickie Lambert is the main man with four goals, and five others have scored once each.

    Fulham have scored 13 goals—second most in the league behind Manchester United's 14—and allowed nine.

    Dimitar Berbatov, who signed from Manchester United at the transfer deadline, has been in strong form, and both Damien Duff and Mladen Petric have scored three goals so far.

Liverpool vs. Stoke City

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    Details: Sunday, 10 a.m., Anfield, Liverpool

    TV: Fox Soccer Plus (live)

    The Skinny: Liverpool finally broke through last week, winning their first match of the season by thrashing Norwich 5-2 at Norwich. Luis Suarez had a hat trick, Steven Gerrard and Nuri Sahin clicked in the midfield and Brendan Rodgers' revolution started picking up steam.

    In Stoke, the Reds will encounter stiff resistance in the form of a stubborn, organized defense. The Potters have drawn four times already and have allowed five goals—tied for fourth-best in the league—in their six matches.

    Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey will serve the final match of his suspension after being sent off against Manchester United. Will he be missed, or have the Reds turned a corner?

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa

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    Details: Sunday, 10 a.m., White Hart Lane, London

    TV: Fox Soccer Plus (delayed, noon)

    The Skinny: Tottenham Hotspur recorded the most noteworthy result in the league last weekend, beating Manchester United 3-2 at Old Trafford. Spurs had not beaten United away since 1989, and in finally doing so, Andre Villas-Boas' first season received perhaps its signature moment.

    Now, AVB and company have to capitalize on it. American Clint Dempsey scored his first goal for the club last weekend, and his countryman Brad Friedel remains one of the league's top keepers. Speedy, powerful midfielder Gareth Bale is showing good form, and for once, there's an abundance of optimism around White Hart Lane.

    The same can't be said for Aston Villa. After last season's disappointing 16th-place finish, Villa have struggled again in the early part of the current campaign. New manager Paul Lambert and forward Darren Bent are reportedly having issues (via ESPN FC), and the team is lingering dangerously close to the relegation zone again.

    This is a perfect chance for Spurs to make another statement. Can they do it?

Newcastle United vs. Manchester United

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    Details: Sunday, 11 a.m., Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne

    TV: Fox Soccer (live)

    The Skinny: The weekend's marquee fixture is also its last, as Manchester United visit Newcastle in Sunday's late kickoff.

    United disappointed last week in a 3-2 home loss to Tottenham. Newcastle earned a controversial 2-2 draw at Reading thanks to Demba Ba and his hand.

    United are third in the table with 12 points, but the Red Devils have struggled through long stretches. The defense has conceded nine goals through six matches, and the midfield clearly needs an upgrade. Robin van Persie, who signed from Arsenal over the summer, has been a bright spot, and the Dutchman's understanding with Wayne Rooney prospered in a midweek victory over Cluj in the Champions League.

    That might mean we'll see Rooney drop farther into the midfield. Regardless, United must remain wary of Ba and his league-leading six goals.