English Premier League Week 10: 10 Storylines to Watch in EPL This Week
If you were ever in doubt that there wasn't anything interesting or worth watching about the English Premier League, then this is certainly the week for you.
The storylines are both plentiful and fascinating, with all 20 teams carrying something unique and important into their respective fixtures.
We've got the two winless teams left in the league playing each other, the high-flying Manchester City aiming to continue their flawless start to the season and Robin van Persie taking on his former club Arsenal for the first time since he left them last summer.
All of that and more finds it's way to us in Week 10 of the English Premier League; read on to see the 10 storylines to watch out for this week.
1. Arsenal Meets Van Persie, Again
Robin van Persie was simply everything to Arsenal last season—netting 30 league goals and solidifying them in the top four despite the absence of several key players.
His move to Manchester United over the summer transfer window wasn't one without much discussion and debate, but he has seemingly found a home at Old Trafford alongside England international Wayne Rooney—leading the Red Devils to second place on the table so far this year.
The 29-year-old now takes on his former club for the first time since he departed the Emirates—playing against players that he was playing with just six months ago.
Van Persie up against the likes of Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta will no doubt provide for fascinating viewing in this one.
2. The Battle of the Winless
Only two teams are yet to record a win in the English Premier League this season—Queens Park Rangers and Reading—and they both do battle this week for the unwanted honor of being the last remaining winless team in the league.
QPR were unlucky to go down against Arsenal last week, and to be held to a draw by Everton the week before that, and will no doubt prove to be a great matchup against the newly promoted Royals, who fought back well to earn a 3-3 draw against Fulham last week.
It most likely won't be technically sound football, but it will be a great match, as two relegation battlers go head-to-head this weekend.
3. Are Swansea Back on Track?
After a strong showing against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last week and victory over Liverpool in the Capital One Cup during the week, Swansea City could finally be getting back on the right track this season.
The Swans started the season in dynamic fashion, but then didn't even look like winning for several weeks, and now are seemingly start to find some form again.
Their test this week is the reigning Champions League winners and current league leaders Chelsea, who were pipped at home by Manchester United last week.
They'll no doubt be furious over that result and will be looking for a strong performance to steady the ship in this one—giving Swansea the perfect opportunity to measure themselves against the league's best.
Are the Swans back in business this year? We'll soon find out.
4. Can City Stay Undefeated?
As the only undefeated team left remaining in the English Premier League this year, Manchester City will be looking to continue their "perfect" start with victory this week.
The reigning Premier League champions are away to the newly promoted West Ham—giving the Hammers their biggest test of the season so far.
City will be without star defender Micah Richards after he was ruled out for four months due to injury, and it will be interesting to see how Roberto Mancini's side performs in his absence. They have struggled away from home this season, and with Upton Park somewhat of a tough trip to take, don't expect the three points to come all that easy for City this week.
5. Will Sunderland Suffer More Draw-Dom?
Sunderland—the kings of the draw—are back in action this week and are taking on fellow Premier League battlers Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats have the worst attack in the league this season, scoring just six goals in eight games, and have notched up a remarkable six draws in that time also.
With two of those draws scoreless and three of them finishing at 1-1, it hasn't exactly been exciting football from Martin O'Neill's men this season, and considering they're playing the second-worst attacking team this season in Villa, don't expect this one to be too high-octane either.
Sunderland fans are no doubt already suffering from what I'll call "draw-dom" this season (that's boredom from draws, in case you didn't quite make the link); will they have to sit through another 90 minutes of attacking inefficiencies in this one?
6. Can Brendan Rodgers' Revival Continue?
Liverpool brought in new manager Brendan Rodgers this season with the aim that he would turn the Premier League giants around this season, make them a competitive club once more and challengers throughout Europe.
As it is now well-documented, the Reds did start the Premier League season in appalling fashion, but are slowly clawing their way back up the table this season and after a strong showing against Everton last week, will be looking to continue their good run of form when they take on Newcastle United this weekend.
The Magpies earned a stoppage-time victory over West Bromwich Albion last weekend, but will have to travel to Anfield to take on the Merseyside club.
And in front of their home fans, Liverpool have played some very good football this year; the question just becomes whether or not it will continue this weekend.
7. What Impact Will Referees Have?
If you missed the refereeing controversy of last week, let me lift you out from under that rock and say that, well, it was a big week for refereeing controversies.
Red cards, disallowed goals, offside goals and a racism claim all dominated the Premier League last week, and I'm sure they will do the same again this week.
So who's going to be on the end of a bad call and just how big of an impact will it be? Will it be a suspension from a red card that was undeserved, or will a team walk away with three points and victory with a goal that shouldn't have stood?
Could this be the week that there isn't a refereeing controversy?
8. Who's Going to Miss Their Stars the Most?
We might have only had nine Premier League matches but already, several big stars are missing from the upcoming weekend of football—much to the dismay and frustration of clubs right around the league.
Manchester City are without Micah Richards; Manchester United are without Nemanja Vidic and Shinji Kagawa; Swansea City are without Michael Vorm; Arsenal are without a whole host of attacking and defensive options this weekend.
All teams are suffering some sort of injuries and are missing at least one of their stars. But who's going to miss them the most—potentially even dropping points because of it?
9. Can West Brom Finally Get a Result?
West Bromwich Albion simply didn't have lady luck over the past month, with three out of four matches falling away from them in the final few minutes of the game.
Aston Villa picked up a draw on a Darren Bent goal after West Brom had dominated the majority of the match. Two weeks later it was City, with Edin Dzeko's 90th-minute winner sealing a 2-1 victory for the away side, despite the Baggies' strong display.
And last week was another case of deja vu, with Newcastle grabbing an injury-time winner to prevail 2-1 despite a strong showing from the away side.
Is this the week that West Brom finally get three points and a result from their hard work over the past few matches? They're at home to Southampton—who are currently second last this year—but have shown they can be more than a handful when playing on the road.
The Baggies will still have to earn the points in this one.
10. Can Mark Hughes Keep His Job?
The final storyline to watch in the Premier League this weekend is Mark Hughes—Queens Park Rangers manager and, according to many, the most likely man to be fired from his club this season.
QPR were very active over the summer transfer window, but currently sit dead last on the Premier League ladder without a win this year and just three points from nine matches—including the second worst goal differential in the league.
Their recent performance against Arsenal might have given hope to Hughes and Rangers' board (per The Sun), but there is no disputing that the QPR boss is playing for his managerial future at the club. A decision won't come this week, or the next, but unless his team starting winning matches soon, it might not be long before the pressure on Hughes' job simply becomes too much.
The London club have a big chance this week to get their first win of the season—and restore some faith in their manager in the process.
What storylines are you looking forward to in the EPL this week?
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