Premier League: five to expect from the weekend

England have made it to the World Cup, jokes about monkeys and spaceships can be taken the wrong way and tickets for Brazil cost a fortune.

Forget about all that, though, the Premier League returns this weekend and here’s five things we can look forward to.

1) Saints could make life a hell for the Red Devils

Southampton, who are fourth place on the table, arrive at Old Trafford boasting the league’s best defensive record, having conceded only two goals in seven games and, even more surprising, are four points clear of United.

The Saints haven’t won at Old Trafford in their last 14 games, losing 13 and drawing one but seem capable of being causing United enough trouble and, whisper it, even handing them their first back-to-back league defeats at home since 2002.

United limped into the international break, Adnan Januzaj’s double against Sunderland sparing David Moyes further blushes, but can count on Wayne Rooney’s stellar form to propel them up the table.

United’s next four games are all at home (against Southampton and Stoke in the Premier League, Real Sociedad in the Champions League and Norwich in the Capital One Cup) and Moyes’ men must kickstart their season, beginning with Saturday at 3pm.

2) Can Ravel Morrison continue his form?

Ravel Morrison’s name was on everybody’s lips before the international break, as the former Manchester United man scored a superb solo goal against Spurs.

Morrison’s performances with England U21 have done nothing to dismiss the notion that this could be the season when we finally see him fulfilling his enormous talent and maybe even earning himself an outside chance of being in Brazil next summer.

West Ham welcome Manchester City on Saturday and Morrison should relish the opportunity of going up against a defence that has looked a lot less solid without Vincent Kompany.

West Ham would have looked at back-to-back games against Spurs and City without much expectation, but having won in North London they’ll be determined to shock another title contender.

3) Out with the old, in with the old?

After waiting two weeks, Gus Poyet will lead Sunderland out for the first time against Swansea tomorrow and there’s genuine interest to see how Sunderland’s 11th manager in the Premier League era will fare.

Poyet is in many ways similar to Paolo Di Canio and the task facing the Uruguayan is an almighty one. Sunderland have picked up one point in seven games, only the sixth team in the Premier League era to achieve such a poor return.

Three of the five teams who struggled to pick up more than one point in the first seven games ended up being relegated at the end of the season, Poyet has his work cut out.

4) Can Spurs bounce back?

Andre Villas Boas seemed to have figured out how to get the best out of his team, before Big Sam’s West Ham blitzed Spurs on their own turf as Hugo Lloris conceded more goals in 90 minutes than he had in the previous six games.

As emphatic as the defeat against West Ham was, it shouldn’t undermine Spurs’ good start to the season, particularly considering that the task of gelling their new signings together was always going to require some time.

However, for all their creativity, Spurs need to start scoring goals, which have been too hard to come by for a team with ambitions of a top four spot. A trip to Aston Villa should provide Spurs plenty of opportunities to do so as the Villans have failed to keep a clean sheet at home in their last 14 Premier League games at Villa Park.

5) SAS to attack St James’ Park

A new episode in the never-ending soap opera of English football that is Newcastle United will unfold tomorrow.

While before the game the Toon Army are planning a march to express their disdain for Mike Ashley’s handling of the club, Alan Pardew will have to contend with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez on the pitch and it’s safe to say Liverpool are probably the last team the Newcastle manager would like to face at the moment.

Pardew, who has challenged his team to avenge last season’s 6-0 mauling in the corresponding fixture, knows his job will be on the line should Newcastle lose and will again rely on Loic Remy to come up with the goods.

Liverpool, on the other hand, must continue their run of form if they’re to be considered genuine title contenders. 

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