By James Goyder
Everton and Manchester United get the weekend underway in a fixture which has huge significance for both clubs. Everton have made a disastrous start to the season and are in desperate need of three points. A win at home to Manchester United would provide an instant respite to their ailment whereas a loss would certify this season’s Premiership start as their worst ever.
Everton’s home record us impeccable and they finished last season in style with almost exactly the same set of players. It seems a matter of when, not if, Everton discover their form and Goodison Park this weekend would be a great place to start.
All eyes will be on Wayne Rooney. The move from his boyhood club to Manchester United is the cause for contention while recent revelations about his private life will provide the ammunition. Alex Ferguson would love nothing more than to see his star striker respond with a man of the match performance. The tabloids will be waiting eagerly in the wings to for any evidence of a Rooney breakdown.
With Chelsea looking infallible at the peak of the Premiership Manchester United simply cannot afford to drop any more points while Everton are in urgent need of a win. Owen Hargreaves and Rio Ferdinand will be absent for Manchester United while Anderson could play a part. Everton are for once almost injury free.
Arsenal have injury problems of their own. Robin van Persie (photo) and Nicolas Bendtner will definitely be absent fot the visit of Bolton Wanderers while in form Theo Walcott is a doubt. Marouan Chamakh, who has shown an unfortunate propensity for missing sitters, is likely to lead the line.
Joey O’Brien and Sean Davies will be absent for the visitors due to injury while Jussi Jaaskelainen misses out through suspension. Aaron Ramsey and Samir Nasri are also still on the injured list for Arsenal.
Fulham will be without talismanic striker Bobby Zamora for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers who will be looking to build on their solid start to the season. Nothing short of three points will suffice for Manchester City at home to Blackburn with the hosts likely to name an unchanged side.
Newcastle United put six past Aston Villa in their last outing while Blackpool conceded a similar total at Arsenal. Hatem Ben Arfa could make his debut for Newcastle United while Andy Carroll will be looking to undermine his England credentials by adding to his already impressive tally of goals.
The transfer market has done West Ham United few favors and neither has the fixture list. Without a point from three games a match against Chelsea is the last thing the Hammers needed. Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been in blistering form and with 14 goals in three games they will be strong favorites at Upton Park. West Ham could give debuts to new signings Victor Obinna and Lars Jacobsen while England duo John Terry and Frank Lampard face fitness tests for Chelsea.
Tottenham Hotspur will be desperate to get back to winning ways after their shocking home defeat against Wigan Athletic. They will travel to West Bromwich Albion without Jerman Defoe who is out for six weeks with an ankle injury.
Carlo Cudicini is likely to deputize for the injured Heurelho Gomes but William Gallas and Rafael van Der Vaart are both set for their debuts. West Brom Albion are without James Morrison, who is suspended and the injured Jerome Thomas but these are the type of matches they need to get points from if they are to survive.
Wigan Athletic host Sunderland looking to build on the precious three away points they obtained against Tottenham. Asamoah Gyan, signed for £13 million on deadline day could make his Sunderland debut while for Wigan a couple of loan signings, Franco di Santo and Tom Cleverley, come into contention. Darren Bent will, as always, be the danger man.
Sunday’s solitary fixture sees Birmingham City host Liverpool. Dirk Kuyt and David Ngog are absent for the visitors due to injury while Joe Cole serves the final game of his three match ban after his opening weekend horror tackle.
New arrivals Paul Konchesky and Raul Meireles will both feature at some stage for Roy Hodgson’s men. Birmingham are without Sebastian Larsson but are more than capable of causing an upset against a Liverpool side who are already lingering in the wrong half of the table.