Premier League: five things to expect from the weekend

After an entertaining midweek action courtesy of the Capital One Cup, the focus returns on the Premier League, with the a top of the table clash and the first ever Welsh derby in the top-flight.

Here’s five things to look forward to this weekend.

1) Contenders or pretenders?

Having picked up seven wins and a draw from eight games since the opening day of the season, Arsenal go into Saturday’s game against Liverpool on the back of their best league form in years.

However, the Gunners – who have lost only one of their last 12 against Liverpool – ¬†have lost at home against Dortmund in the Champions League and Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, failing to quell speculations that they’re flat-track bullies, rather than serious title challengers.

Liverpool should prove a sterner test than those Arsenal have faced in the league so far and arrive in North London on the back of an equally surprising start to the season, with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge arguably the best striking partnership in the league right now.

First vs third and a crucial test for both – it could be one to remember.

2) Beware of November

November might now be associated with charity campaigns relying on horrible moustaches, but for Premier League managers it’s arguably one of the most crucial months of the season.

Seven of the last 15 teams to be relegated to the Championship occupied the bottom three at this stage of the season, while November has seen 30 managerial departures in 21 Premier League seasons, compared to 20 in December, 16 in October and September and 15 in January and March.

Gus Poyet can consider his job safe for now, while there could be a P45 waiting for Martin Jol, Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew come Saturday evening. Fulham host Manchester United, while Norwich travel to Manchester City and Newcastle host Chelsea – hardly the sort of games their manager would have wanted at this stage of the season.

3) Can United move forward?

All is not well at United, it hasn’t been for some time in fact, but it’s not all doom and gloom either.

Having won the last three games in all competitions, United are unbeaten in six games and travel to Fulham tomorrow afternoon, looking to pick up back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season.

United’s lack of continuity has been their biggest problem this season, but a win at Craven Cottage would see them closing in on the top five and provide the perfect tonic ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Old Trafford on Sunday week.

4) Wales takes centre stage

Swansea and Cardiff fans have been waiting and dreading this day in equal measure since the Bluebirds were promoted to the Premier League for the first time in their history last May.

Swansea look to have steadied the ship after a wobbly start to the season, while Cardiff are without a win in the last three and arrive into their biggest game of the season with rumours of turmoil behind the scenes, as Malky Mackay admitted some players were signed without his consent.

However, come Sunday afternoon at 4pm – a daft kickoff time, considering the history of troubles between the two sides – football will have to do the talking, as two non-English teams square up for the first team in the English top-flight.

5) Spurs fans should stop moaning

Spurs enter the 10th week of the season in fourth place, three points adrift of league leaders Arsenal and just a point behind Chelsea and Liverpool.

However, judging by the reaction of some of their fans, they might as well be lying in the relegation zone. Andre Villas Boas has come under criticism for adopting a more pragmatic style of football than Spurs fans were used to under Harry Redknapp, but while Spurs have hardly been spectacular, solidity is just as important an ingredient over the course of a Premier League season.

Fans might be disappointed by the lack of goals, but as Spurs travel to sixth-placed Everton on Sunday, expect AVB to be happy with another boring 1-0 win.

 

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