Premier League preview
Man City face Sunderland; Newcastle host Man Utd
Last Updated: October 5, 2012 12:53pm
It promises to be another pulsating weekend in the Premier League as the action kicks off with Manchester City at home to Sunderland and concludes with Manchester United's trip to Newcastle.
The early weeks of the season have ben gripping and it is Chelsea who lead from Everton ahead of the latest round of matches, while at the bottom there are three teams still waiting for a first victory.
Defending champions Manchester City remain unbeaten in the league but have been far from convincing, having left it late to beat Fulham last week and then escaped with a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League after an inspired performance by goalkeeper Joe Hart. Next up on Saturday is a home clash with Sunderland, who took four points off Roberto Mancini's men last season and will be looking to extend their own undefeated record after Steven Fletcher's goal against Wigan halted a run a four straight draws. The lunchtime fixture can be seen live on Sky Sports 2HD.
Manchester United are level on 12 points with City after an equally tricky start to the season in which they have developed a habit of falling behind and then having to hit back. They were left with too much to do as they went down 3-2 at home to Tottenham last time out and now face a difficult journey to St James' Park, where they lost 3-0 last term. Newcastle United have yet to replicate in 2012/13 the sort of performance they produced that night but Alan Pardew will be hoping the big occasion brings the best out of his players as they aim to push on from mid-table, in a game which can be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD at 4pm on Sunday.
Chelsea will be looking to strengthen their position at the top of the table before the Premier League takes a break for a fortnight to allow international football to take centre stage. Roberto Di Matteo's Blues negotiated their sternest test to date as they won at Arsenal last weekend and start as firm favourites against Norwich City. The Canaries have yet to taste success this season and were thumped 5-2 at home by Liverpool in their most recent outing.
If Chelsea suffer a surprise loss then Everton could climb to the summit by beating Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. The Toffees' 3-1 triumph against Southampton kept them in touch and fuelled discussion about whether David Moyes' current squad is the finest he has assembled in a decade at Goodison Park. Wigan have slipped towards the drop zone after losing three in a row and Roberto Martinez's week got even worse when he was fined £10,000 for recent comments about officials.
Southampton are just below Wigan in the table following their loss to Everton and will be eager to bounce back when they entertain Fulham on Sunday, in a match which can be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD. Neither team has drawn yet this season and the Cottagers will view the St Mary's encounter as an ideal opportunity to cement a top-half spot after last Saturday's setback against Manchester City.
Click below for individual match previews and stats:Saturday
Man City v Sunderland
Chelsea v Norwich
Swansea v Reading
West Brom v QPR
Wigan v Everton
West Ham v Arsenal
Southampton v Fulham
Liverpool v Stoke
Tottenham v Aston Villa
Newcastle v Man Utd
Upton Park provides the setting for a London derby on Saturday as West Ham United tackle Arsenal. Sam Allardyce welcomed Andy Carroll back from injury as a substitute in Monday's 2-1 win against Queens Park Rangers, and the Hammers will be keen to extend or at least maintain their two-point advantage over Arsenal. The Gunners lost their unbeaten record when they went down to Chelsea and will not want to lose any further ground on the leading pack.
Bottom-of-the-table Queens Park Rangers have insisted that Mark Hughes is not under pressure after just six games but the manager would surely sleep more easily during the international break if his new-look team can break their duck and win for the first time this season at West Bromwich Albion. Steve Clarke's Baggies have been one of the surprise packages of the season and a win on Saturday would keep them flying high in the top seven.
Michael Laudrup was earning rave reviews similar to Clarke earlier in the season but the honeymoon period is now over for the new Swansea City boss after a run of three consecutive defeats. The Welsh side have not managed a goal in any of those three games and Laudrup has told his players it is vital to halt the slide against Reading, who have picked up just two points so far and had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Newcastle last weekend.
Liverpool found form in emphatic style as Luiz Suarez netted a hat-trick against Norwich to lift the Reds up the standings, and Brendan Rodgers will be looking for a repeat display in front of the Anfield faithful on Sunday. Stoke City, boasting former Reds stars such as Peter Crouch and Michael Owen in their ranks, are the visitors to Merseyside and will be hoping to build on their win over Swansea.
Tottenham Hotspur are beginning to click into gear after a slow start to the campaign and their triumph at Old Trafford will have raised expectations about what Andre Vilas-Boas could achieve in his first season at the helm. Spurs will be now be looking to put on a show at White Hart Lane against Aston Villa, who remain in the bottom half following a 1-1 draw with Midlands rivals West Brom.