Premier League Preview – Oct. 17-19
The international break is over, so it’s time to get back to work for the guys in the EPL.
The weekend starts with a bang as Chelsea makes the trip to Birmingham to face Aston Villa and wraps up with a battle of bottom dwellers on Monday when Hull City visit Craven Cottage.
Here’s a look at the table.
Here’s the TV schedule.
And here are some capsules:
Aston Villa vs. Chelsea
The Blues look to protect their lead atop the table with a visit to the Second City on Saturday.
Table watch: Chelsea is in first on 21 points, while Villa is in seventh on 13 points.
Last time: In this fixture last season, Chelsea grabbed a 1-0 win.
Injury news: Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack came off at halftime of Germany’s 1-1 draw with Finland in mid-week, but keeper Petr Cech should be back in goal for the Blues.
Arsenal vs. Birmingham City
The Gunners hope to continue their march up the standings when Birmingham comes calling to the Emirates this weekend.
Table watch: Arsenal is in fifth place on 15 points while Birmingham sits in 14th position on seven points.
Up and down: Arsenal is coming off a 6-2 thrashing of Blackburn in their last run out while Birmingham fell 2-1 at Burnley.
Everton vs. Wolverhampton
A slow start for the Toffees has turned around somewhat as Everton can crack the top 10 with a win at Goodison Park against Wolves.
Table watch: Everton is in 10th place with 10 points while Wolves have seven points, good for 17th place.
The Fellani saga: Much to Belgium’s chagrin, Marouane Fellani will be allowed to play for Everton after missing Wednesday’s international match with Estonia.
Manchester United vs. Bolton Wanderers
The Red Devils will look to keep pace with Chelsea, and perhaps even knock them from the EPL perch when the Trotters visit Old Trafford this weekend.
Table watch: United is in second place with 19 points while Bolton in is 13th spot with eight points.
Streaking: The Red Devils have won eight of the last nine meetings in this series. Bolton, however, is on a five-match unbeaten run.
Injury news: Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen are injury worries for the Red Devils with calf and groin maladies, respectively.
Portsmouth vs. Tottenham
Pompey, still looking to escape the league cellar, welcomes Spurs to Fratton Park on Saturday.
Table Watch: Portsmouth is last on the table with three points while Spurs have 16 points, which is good for third.
Projection: It’s a different year, to be sure, but Spurs are on pace to pick up 76 points – good for fourth in last year’s final standings.
He said it: “People who have got any sense look at what I did for that football club. I took them from the bottom of the Championship to winning the Championship and becoming a top-seven, top-eight Premier League club, winning the FA Cup.
“If people are stupid enough to shout abuse they need their heads looking at, in my opinion.” – Former Pompey boss and current Spurs gaffer Harry Redknapp
Stoke City vs. West Ham United
The Potters will look to use Saturday’s date with the Hammers as a springboard into the top half of the table.
Table watch: Stoke has nine points and sits in 11th place while West Ham is mired in 19th position on five points.
History lesson: West Ham won both matches between these clubs last season and have won five in a row in the series overall.
Finish the game: Stoke has lost seven points from winning positions this season – the most in the league.
Sunderland vs. Liverpool
The Stadium of Light will be jumping as the Black Cats look to add another result against a big four club to their ledger when Liverpool visits Saturday.
Table watch: Sunderland is in eighth place on 13 points while Liverpool is in sixth spot with 15.
He said it: “If Mr. Capello is looking for players, then he must have been impressed with Michael Turner and Darren Bent. Whether they can break in now to a World Cup squad, who knows? There’s still six months to go.” – Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, after his team’s 2-2 draw with United.
Woes up front: Liverpool has issues up front, as Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard all have knocks that might keep them out of this one.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley
Rovers will look to put some distance between themselves and the drop zone when surprising Burnley invades Ewood Park on Sunday.
Table watch: Blackburn is in 16th spot on seven points while Burnley is in ninth place on a dozen points.
An old rivalry: This is a renewal of the East Lancashire Derby. Because the two teams – eight miles apart- haven’t shared a league in a while, the last meeting was in 2005. That was a 2-1 win for Rovers at Ewood Park. The two sides haven’t met in league play since the 2000-2001 season. Blackburn was won 39 matches, Burnley owns 38 wins and the two have drawn 18 times in their history.
Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City
If City is serious about challenging the big four, it will need to start getting road results against teams like Wigan along the way.
Table watch: The Latics are on nine points in 12th place while City has 16 points, good for fourth position.
Hey, it’s Alan: Alan Wiley, in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, will be the referee for this fixture.
Hey, it’s Micah: Micah Richards, out of action for City since the Manchester Derby, may make his return Sunday at the DW Stadium.
Fulham vs. Hull City
The underachieving Whites look to pick up three points against equally uninspiring Hull City on Monday at Craven Cottage.
Table watch: Fulham is in 15th place on seven points while Hull City sits 18th on seven points based on goal difference.
Doubling up: Hull won both meetings last season, winning by a goal each time.
Possible return: Former Fulham standout and current Tiger Jimmy Bullard might make an appearance after a long layoff with a knee injury.