Premier League Preview - Week 9 - 23rd/24th October
The Premier League returned to our screens with a bang last weekend. Chelsea and Manchester United both dropped points, Everton ran out victors in the Merseyside derby and Blackpool pushed Manchester City all the way at Bloomfield Road.
League leaders Chelsea have an opportunity to open up a five point gap at the top when they welcome Wolves to Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon. With Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United not in action until the following day, Chelsea can take advantage by securing all three points at a ground where they’ve lost just one of their last 23 Premier League games.
These stats don’t offer Wolves much cause for optimism for the trip to London. Currently occupying 18th place inside the relegation zone, they face a tough few weeks with this week’s trip to Chelsea followed by Premier League encounters with Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal in the space of 17 days.
The lunchtime kick off on Saturday sees Tottenham return from a trip to the San Siro to face Everton, who are beginning to find the feet this season after two successive victories. Tottenham’s 2-1 win in the corresponding fixture last season ended a run of three consecutive defeats by Everton at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham suffered mixed emotions in the Champions League, eventually going down narrowly 4-3 to European champions Inter Milan, thanks to a brilliant individual display by Gareth Bale, who restored some pride for Spurs with a second half hat-trick. After missing out in midweek, Rafael Van Der Vaart is expected to return to the Tottenham side on Saturday having taken the Premier League by storm since his arrival on transfer deadline day.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Birmingham play host to newcomers Blackpool, who will be looking to defy the odds yet again away from Bloomfield Road. Aston Villa make the long journey north to take on Sunderland. West Ham United can move off the bottom of the league table if they avoid defeat against Newcastle at Upton Park, while West Bromwich Albion hope to maintain their impressive form when they face Fulham at the Hawthorns.
Manchester United continue their search for a first away win of the campaign with a tricky encounter against Stoke City at the Britannia stadium. The saga concerning Wayne Rooney and his future at the club is clearly having an effect on matters on the pitch and Sir Alex Ferguson will need his side fully focused for the aerial battle that faces them on Sunday.
Two of the title contenders this season lock horns on Sunday when Manchester City welcome Arsenal to the City of Manchester stadium. Recent meetings at the home of Manchester City have seen the home side hold the edge, winning three of the last four Premier League meetings at Eastlands. Arsenal have already hit free scoring mode this season, hitting five with relative ease against Shakhtar Donestk in midweek and with Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott returning to action on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger will be hopeful his side can make giant strides towards a sustained title challenge in the coming months.
Game of the weekend: Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Many of the world’s most talented footballers will be on show when these two English giants meet on Sunday afternoon. Last year, Manchester City secured the three points in a six goal, action packed thriller.
With Arsenal playing some devastating football so far this season, expect plenty of goal mouth action as both sides go all out for the three points on offer.
Blast from the past: Saturday 17th December 2005 West Ham 2-4 Newcastle
Michael Owen scored a hat-trick as Newcastle recorded an impressive victory over West Ham at Upton Park. Two first half goals from Owen ensured Newcastle went in with a narrow lead. Owen put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time, rounding off a classic counter attack to record the eighth Premier League hat-trick of his career and secure all three points for the Magpies.
On this day : 10 years ago – 2000/2001
Manchester United ended Leicester’s unbeaten run in comprehensive fashion with a 3-0 victory which saw them move back to the top of the league table. Arsenal also took advantage, moving above Leicester with a narrow win over Aston Villa.
Five years ago - 2005/06
Chelsea made it nine wins from their opening nine league fixtures, going ten points clear at the top with a 5-1 demolition of Bolton at Stamford Bridge. Tottenham became their nearest challengers, moving into second with a 2-0 win over Everton.
One year ago - 2009/2010
Aston Villa came from a goal down to defeat title challengers Chelsea 2-1 at Villa Park, while Sunderland recorded an unlikely win over Liverpool who were left cursing their luck after the winning goal from Darren Bent deflected off a beach ball and past the helpless Pepe Reina.
Week 9 fixtures
Saturday 23rd October
Tottenham vs. Everton – 12.45 - Live on Sky Sports
Birmingham vs. Blackpool - 15.00
Chelsea vs. Wolves - 15.00
Sunderland vs. Aston Villa - 15.00
West Brom vs. Fulham - 15.00
Wigan vs. Bolton - 15.00
West Ham vs. Newcastle - 15.00
Sunday 24th October
Stoke City vs. Manchester United - 13.30 - Live on Sky Sports
Liverpool vs. Blackburn - 15.00
Manchester City vs. Arsenal - 16.00 - Live on Sky Sports