English Premier League: Latest EPL Rumors, Preview and Predictions for Week 9
Chelsea continued to impress last week by going on the road to defeat Tottenham, ensuring the Blues will remain atop the English Premier League table for at least another week. They are four points clear of their closest competition.
Manchester United and defending champion Manchester City have both started to pull away from the pack, as well. The rivals are now three points clear of Everton, which has started to cool off a bit after a red-hot start to the campaign.
After the top three, the table is bunched up, leaving a lot of room for movement if a club is able to string a couple victories together over the next couple weeks. As the season approaches the quarter pole, a lot of intriguing races are already setting up.
Let's take a look at some of the latest news from around the EPL, a preview of the week's best match and predictions for every game on the schedule in Week 9.
Andy Carroll Back to Liverpool?
Liverpool loaned Andy Carroll to West Ham United just prior to the transfer window closing. Even though the striker doesn't seem like a good fit for Brendan Rodgers' system, he apparently believes he has some unfinished business at Anfield.
Harry Harris of ESPN reports the 23-year-old England international doesn't think he was given a chance to succeed with the Reds. He also hasn't ruled out making a return to the club, which would be quite a surprise if it happened under Rodgers.
While nobody can blame Carroll for keeping his options open, it doesn't seem like Liverpool would be a good place for him right now. He's viewed more favorably by West Ham and should just focus on excelling there for the immediate future.
Rio Ferdinand Extension Talks
Rio Ferdinand's contract with Manchester United comes to an end next summer, meaning it will soon become crunch time in terms of getting a new agreement in place. The veteran defender is still a key member of the Red Devils.
If Ferdinand wants to remain at Old Trafford, he'll have to accept a pay cut to make it happen, according to Wayne Veysey of Goal.com. He reports the team will only offer Ferdinand a one-year deal worth somewhere between £60,000 and £70,000.
It would be interesting to see how Ferdinand would respond to that type of offer. There would be other teams interested in him if no extension was reached, but he's always fit in well with United and continues to play at a high level.
Match of the Week: Chelsea vs. Manchester United
After a couple weekends without a truly marquee clash, fans get to see a battle between the league's top two teams on Sunday. It doesn't get any bigger than that, especially at this point in the season, and it should live up to the hype.
It's a measuring stick game for Chelsea. Most analysts expected another battle between the Manchester rivals atop the table, but the Blues have shown it's going to be a three-horse race. A victory over United would drive that point home.
As for the Red Devils, the combination of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney is starting to click and that's bad news for back lines across the Premier League. They dynamic duo will have to be in top form for United to earn a result at Stamford Bridge though.
Aston Villa vs. Norwich City
Both of these clubs have struggled out of the gate, mostly due to poor production up front. Villa has to find a way to get Darren Bent more involved. Even when he's been on the pitch, he hasn't been a focal point of the attack. Norwich needs somebody other than Grant Holt to step up.
Arsenal vs. Queens Park Rangers
The Gunners let three points slip away against Norwich last week, but the overall direction of the team is still positive. The same can't be said for QPR, which currently sits in last place after being unable to secure a winner against 10-man Everton.
Prediction: 2-0 Arsenal
Reading vs. Fulham
This will be a tricky test for Fulham. The Cottagers have been a much better team at home than on the road. They also have a couple big matches on the horizon, making it easy to overlook Reading. It certainly falls in the trap game category.
Stoke City vs. Sunderland
These teams are tied for the league lead in draws with five. While both appear destined for another mid-table finish, getting all three points would at least let one team move toward the top half. Expect a more open approach from Stoke at home.
Prediction: 2-1 Stoke City
Wigan Athletic vs. West Ham United
West Ham has been one of the most surprising teams in the early going and have some staying power as long as they continue capitalizing on matches like this one. Wigan's defense has made far too many mental errors so far.
Prediction: 1-0 West Ham United
Manchester City vs. Swansea City
Manchester City shouldn't meet much resistance in this match. Even though Joe Hart and Co. still haven't been able to find top form, the Citizens are still managing to remain within striking distance of Chelsea. Swansea isn't on that level.
Prediction: 3-0 Manchester City
Everton vs. Liverpool
The latest installment of the Merseyside derby should be a good one. Everton is looking to get back in the win column after back-to-back road draws while Liverpool is looking to dig out of an early hole. As usual, there will be no shortage of motivation for either side.
Prediction: 2-1 Everton
Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion
West Brom was able to put up a fight against Manchester City last week before ultimately falling short. A similar performance on Sunday will earn them at least a draw against a Newcastle team that hasn't been able to find its footing yet.
Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Although Tottenham has already moved back inside the top five despite a slow start, last week's lost to Chelsea showed Spurs there's still a lot of work to do. Southampton's back line won't be able to contain them this week though.
Prediction: 3-1 Tottenham
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Both teams are in great form, understand how important this match is and have mid-week Champions League clashes to navigate. Even though there isn't a result that would be a total shock, a draw seems like the most likely outcome.