The Juan to watch
Ed Chamberlin tips Juan Mata and Andre Marriner to be key figures on a special Super Sunday.
Last Updated: 26/10/12 2:56pm
And then there were three.
Manchester City dug out a great result with 10 men at West Brom to stay as Sky Bet's 13/8 favourites to retain their Premier League title. United shortened a fraction after beating Stoke, while Chelsea made another statement with an impressive win at Tottenham and their price was cut yet again to 5/2.
This weekend we will find out if they are a real threat to the Manchester clubs as they meet United at Stamford Bridge on Super Sunday. Arsenal were the big losers on the weekend and have drifted from 9/1 to 14s.
Sky Bet's Premier League Title odds: 13/8 Man City, 2/1 Man United, 5/2 Chelsea, 14/1 Arsenal, 66/1 Tottenham, 100/1 Liverpool, 100/1 Everton, 500/1 Newcastle.
Sunday is one of those days that stands out like a beacon in the football calendar and sees the first Premier League meeting between two of current top three teams this season. We start at 1pm on Sky Sports 1HD and in Sky 3D with the small matter of the Merseyside derby and then we have the big clash at Stamford Bridge. I can't wait.
Our first live game is the 218th Merseyside derby, the 187th in the League. Sky Bet find it hard to split them with Everton at 13/8 and Liverpool 8/5. History points to an away win and a big day for Brendan Rogers as Liverpool have an excellent record on their recent trips across Stanley Park.
Liverpool have won nine of the last 12 Premier League meetings at Goodison Park, including four of the last five. They have won 31 points at Goodison, only winning more at Villa Park (32pts), and three more on Sunday will really get their season going.
However, Everton will be a really tough nut to crack. We saw on Super Sunday at QPR just how solid a unit Everton are as they hung on for a point with 10 men. Phil Jagielka was man of the match and alongside Sylvain Distin was heroic at the back.
However, up to the point of going down to 10 men Leon Osman was running the show for Everton and continues to be their unsung hero. Osman goes about his business in a quiet, efficient manner and really makes the team tick.
Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar have hogged most of the headlines this season, described by Gary Neville as the best combination in the Premier League, and Pienaar is going to be a big miss on Sunday and a major headache has been removed for Liverpool.
Referee Andre Marriner could have a headache or two. There have been 11 red cards and 63 yellows in the last 15 Premier League meetings. In total, there have been 20 red cards in the 40 meetings - more than in any other Premier League fixture.
It promises to be feisty again.
From the thrills and spills at Goodison Park we will focus on Stamford Bridge for an acid test of Chelsea's title credentials. Should they win on Sunday, Chelsea would be just the fifth team in Premier League history to take 25 or more points from the opening nine games and their title odds are sure to be slashed from 5/2.
The set-up of the two teams will be fascinating. I would imagine Manchester United will play the same formation that worked so well at Newcastle, while I'm looking forward to seeing Chelsea's three magicians, Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar try to call the tune behind Fernando Torres, who continues to play second fiddle at the moment.
Chelsea's conductor is undoubtedly Mata. He was superb against Tottenham and now seems to have added goals to his impressive repertoire. With his prowess from set pieces, Mata is bound to give you a run for your money at 8/1 to be first goalscorer and 11/4 to score at any time.
There should be goals in the game as the two Premier League meetings last season produced 10, including that incredible 3-3 draw in this fixture in February. One of my enduring memories from last season was Gary Neville slumped in his chair at full-time whistle, emotionally drained after the remarkable comeback from Manchester United.
Prior to that, United hadn't had much to cheer about at the Bridge. Chelsea are unbeaten in the last 10 Premier League meetings at home, winning six, and United's last Premier League win at Stamford Bridge came 10 years ago - 3-0 in April 2002 - Scholes, Van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer the scorers.
This is their longest ever run without a League win on any ground. They last went 11 consecutive League games without a win on any ground at Upton Park between 1969-87 - a run of 16 games. Chelsea are also the only team in Premier League history with more wins (13) than defeats (12) against Man Utd.
My worry for Chelsea is that they will be missing their two most experienced players in games of this magnitude and had a 3,400-mile round-trip to Donetsk in midweek. That travelling might well take its toll.
Chelsea to score the first goal of the game is bound to be a popular bet at 5/6. Conceding the first goal has been Man Utd's achilles heel so far this season. It even spread to the Champions League as they allowed Braga to score the opener on Tuesday night.
In the Premier League, United have conceded the first goal in six of their eight games (W4, L2). They have gone behind in more games than any other team this season, having only conceded the first goal in eight matches all last season.
Sunday promises to be a bit special. I hope you'll be able to join Graeme Souness, Gary Neville and myself for an intriguing day of Premier League football on Super Sunday from 1pm on Sky Sports 1 HD.
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