English Premier League Week 13: Top Storylines to Watch in EPL This Week

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IINovember 23, 2012

English Premier League Week 13: Top Storylines to Watch in EPL This Week

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    Once again, the English Premier League looks set to provide another fascinating week of matchups and a whole host of talking points to go with it.

    Some of the storylines we know and we're looking out for; others we might not have realized just yet, whilst some we won't know until the games have actually commenced.

    Whatever the case, there's bound to be plenty of talking points and discussion following Week 13 of the Premier League—here are the top storylines.

Rafa Benitez's Debut Game for Chelsea

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    After sensationally firing manager Roberto Di Matteo during the week, Chelsea have a new boss—former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez—who will coach the club for the first time Sunday.

    The Blues' 3-0 loss to Juventus in the Champions League was the final straw for Di Matteo, and the new man in charge, Benitez, will have seen firsthand the cut-throat world that he has just entered at Stamford Bridge under Roman Abramovich.

    Benitez won't get an easy first game either with the West London club taking on current league leaders and defending champions Manchester City, who netted five goals in just over half an hour last week against Aston Villa.

    Should he win, the 52-year-old manager will be seen as the man who can turn the Blues' season around. However, should he lose, the pressure will be on Benitez immediately to start performing, or he too may face a similar fate as so many of Chelsea's managers before him.

Brendan Rodgers Returns to Swansea

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    Another manager set for a big weekend is Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who took over the Merseyside club at the start of the year following a successful season with Swansea City.

    Now he returns to Liberty Stadium Sunday to take on his former club, who will no doubt be fired up to perform at their best against their former manager.

    The Swans have turned the corner in terms of form lately, but so too have Liverpool, who haven't lost a Premier League match since their controversial 2-1 loss to Manchester United at Anfield in September.

    Having said that, the Reds have managed just one away win all season—against lowly Norwich City—and won't simply have it all their way this week against Swansea.

Can Manchester City Stay Undefeated?

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    Following their five-goal drubbing of Aston Villa last week, defending champions Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League ladder—perhaps a fair notion given the fact that they haven't yet been beaten domestically this year.

    The Citizens haven't won a single game in the Champions League through their five group-stage matches and have been eliminated from advancing in the competition, yet in the Premier League they haven't suffered a loss yet this season.

    They'll face their biggest test of the year so far when they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea, who will be out to improve on their poor performance against Juventus in the Champions League—as well as impress under new manager Rafa Benitez.

    Roberto Mancini's men have won just two games on the road this year—both of which were unconvincing victories—where Edin Dzeko scored late goals to give them the win.

    Can the defending champions continue their undefeated streak and rectify their poor away form, or will the Blues begin their Benitez era with a win?

Are Arsenal Starting to Heat Up?

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    They were hammered early for their inconsistencies in midfield and attack, but Arsenal are slowly starting to find their groove this season and will take full confidence into this weekend.

    The Gunners booked their place in the final 16 of the Champions League with a win over Montpellier during the week, and can continue to climb the Premier League ladder with a strong performance against lowly Aston Villa on Saturday.

    Arsenal have scored the fourth-most goals in the EPL this year, and with Frenchman Olivier Giroud finally starting to hit the mark and combining well with Lukas Podolski, the London club look set to carry on their strong attacking form this weekend.

    They might not have five different goal scorers like they did last week against Tottenham Hotspur, although the way they're playing at the moment, you never quite know.

Can West Brom Continue Their Unlikely Start?

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    Nobody—and I mean nobody—picked West Bromwich Albion to be anything other than a mediocre team this season, but a third of the way through the year, the Baggies sit in fourth position in the Premier League and are dreaming about a possible European berth.

    Granted that dream is still months off, but the Baggies are playing excellent football and with a huge win over Chelsea last week, will take plenty of confidence into their fixture Saturday against Sunderland, where they can continue their remarkable start.

    However, the Black Cats are no easy beats in the league, and certainly not at the Stadium of Light, where they are an incredibly tough team to break down.

    Despite currently sitting 15th, Sunderland have only been beaten once at home this year and have taken points off Liverpool, Newcastle and Wigan Athletic to date.

    Will they stop Steve Clarke's men again this week or are the high-flying Baggies set to continue their phenomenal start to the Premier League season?

Battle of the $uper-Rich

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    We saw during the week just how strong Roman Abramovich feels about Chelsea, with the megarich owner flexing his muscle and firing Roberto Di Matteo over his "poor" performances.

    The Blues owner has invested billions of dollars into the club over the past few years, and whilst he won't take the field on Sunday, he'll be coming up against the other man who has spent big in the Premier League in recent years—Sheikh Mansour of Manchester City.

    The Sun estimated toward the end of last season that Abramovich had spent around £2 billion at Chelsea—a number that would have risen to around £2.2 billion by the time we include this season's summer transfer window and wages.

    Mansour has also spent big at his club, with the owner believed to have spent around €600 million on transfers alone at the Manchester club since his takeover in 2008, according to data collected from Transfermarkt (h/t On Football).

    Who will win in the battle of the super-rich? Or perhaps in a manner of speaking, whose money will have been put to better use following this weekend?

Hughes Gone; Redknapp In?

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    One final storyline to watch this weekend which some might not have yet seen is the exit of Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes and the hiring of Harry Redknapp, who will take over as the new manager at the London club on Sunday (via Daily Mail).

    QPR haven't won yet this season and sit dead last in the Premier League with just four points from their opening 12 matches—leaving Hughes without a job for his poor performances.

    But can Harry simply come in and save the day for QPR?

    We'll soon find out just what the former Tottenham Hotspur manager can achieve at the club and who will have achieved something very special if he can help the club avoid relegation this year—something that seems is very likely at this stage of the season.

    QPR's first match in the post-Hughes era is away to Manchester United Saturday, who are looking to avoid three straight defeats.

    Maybe a potential resurgence will have to wait a week.

    What are you looking forward to in the Premier League this weekend?

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