English Premier League: 5 Players to Watch over the Weekend
With the FA Cup third round completed midweek, the English Premier League resumes on Saturday.
It's now matchday 23 in the 2012/13 campaign, and there are some great games to watch over the weekend. Chelsea host London rivals Arsenal, while Manchester United travel to White Hart Lane to face Tottenham.
Here are five players to watch over the weekend.
Papiss Cissé (Newcastle United)
Newcastle United finished the 2011/12 EPL campaign in 5th place on 65 points. This season, after 22 games played, they are in 16th with 21 points.
The Magpies have been very disappointing this season, and the loss of Demba Ba will have made fans even more unhappy about the club's current situation.
It's time for Papiss Cissé to step up. The Senegalese striker signed for Newcastle in January 2012 and was absolutely phenomenal in his first season, scoring 13 goals in 14 appearances.
The former Freiburg man hasn't had a great past six months, though, scoring just six times in 26 games. Cissé has played twice since Demba Ba's departure (on January 4), and was unconvincing in both encounters.
The 27-year-old will need to play well against Reading on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Wayne Rooney returned from his knee injury with a goal and a penalty miss against West Ham United. The English striker had been out for over three weeks but played well in the Red Devils' FA Cup replay.
Manchester United haven't lost since December 5th but have a hard task against Tottenham on Sunday. Robin Van Persie has looked in form recently but may need Rooney's help to beat a Spurs side that have conceded just twice in seven matches.
Ryan Shawcross (Stoke City)
Stoke City haven't had a great start to 2013 but crushed Crystal Palace on Tuesday in the FA Cup. The Potters were beaten 3-0 at Old Trafford on New Year's Day and recorded their worst ever home lost when they faced Chelsea eleven days later.
Tony Pulis' side travel to Wales to face Michael Landrup's high-flying Swansea City. The Potters will need to stop Michu if they are going to take even a point from this game. The Spanish attacker scored a great goal last week against Chelsea and is now at 16 goals in 24 appearances.
Ryan Shawcross has had a great season so far, but even the best of defenders have a hard time stopping Michu. The English center-back will need to rally his team and put in a good performance in order to end Stoke's three league match winless run.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
It looks like Liverpool made a good decision in buying Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea. The striker has played just 100 minutes for the Reds but already has two goals. He scored in his debut against Mansfield Town and got on the scoresheet at Manchester United seven days later.
Sturridge never had too many chances while at Chelsea, and his move to Liverpool was good for everybody.
Brendan Rodgers' side host Norwich City on Saturday. It's unclear whether Sturridge will start but he'll certainly play at some point in the game.
Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)
Arsenal will be without Laurent Koscielny against Chelsea on Sunday. The French center-back was handed a straight red card in the 10th minute against Manchester City and will now miss the Gunners' trip to Stamford Bridge.
With Koscielny out, it would be safe to assume that Per Mertesacker will start at the back. The German has had a good season so far but started on the bench in Arsenal's last three matches.
Chelsea haven't been doing too well in past weeks but will be a huge attacking threat. The Blues have scored over three goals in four of their last nine games.
With Demba Ba, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata at their best, the defensive partnership of Mertesacker and Vermaelen will have to be at its best.