Game-week five sees the Manchester derby conclude an intriguing set of matches. Cardiff City will hope to repeat their heroics against Manchester City when they entertain Tottenham Hotspur, while Arsenal and Liverpool are looking to snatch or maintain top spot with home matches against Stoke City and Southampton respectively. While my tip for game of the weekend – or at least of Saturday – is Norwich versus Aston Villa at Carrow Road.
Fixture analysis: Most eyes will fly straight to Sunday’s 4:00pm fixture, which sees Manchester City face Manchester United for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson bid farewell. With two new managers on the touchline, neither will want the history books to say they lost their first derby. So does a scoring draw beckon?
That is not the only game kicking off at that time, with players from Cardiff and Spurs hoping to steal the headlines from the Manchester clubs. Undefeated in their last four, the Bluebirds will be a tough proposition for a Tottenham side rejuvenated by an array of new signings.
Spurs will also be eying top spot, while Crystal Palace will know their home form will be vital as they welcome Swansea City to Selhurst Park. And Newcastle will see a home match against Hull City as another potential step on their recent road to recovery.
Player analysis: While it may be the game of the weekend, the Manchester derby is not necessarily the place to find this week’s signings. Robin van Persie (14.0) and Wayne Rooney (10.5) are an expensive but in-form duo, while Edin Dzeko (7.6) and Sergio Aguero (11.0) are a cheaper if not exactly cheap alternative.
In a game likely to be won in midfield, Marouane Fellaini (8.5) and Yaya Toure (9.0) are worth an investment, with United finally in possession of a player who may one day rival the Ivorian in terms of midfield dominance.
Arguably last weekend’s star performer, Mesut Ozil (10.1) has the ability to run the show again when he faces Stoke City on Sunday. And if you have the money for both, why not douse rather than sprinkle your team with creativity by bringing in Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen (8.1), who will only get better as the season progresses.
Another new arrival, if not exactly a new face, could also have a big impact on Saturday, as West Bromwich Albion’s Stephane Sessegnon (6.7) goes up against his former club Sunderland. The Benin international showed at the Stadium of Light just how influential he can be on his day, and what price a swift return to haunt the Black Cats?
In my tip for Saturday’s game-of-the-day, Norwich City’s Nathan Redmond (5.1) has everything in his locker to terrorise Villa’s defence and inspire a home win; while Gary Hooper (6.3) could also be set for a start following his return from injury.
Simon Mignolet (5.7) and the Liverpool back line will be hoping to rediscover their resoluteness at home to Southampton; while West Brom’s defence – with Gareth McAuley (5.4) at its heart – will be eying a clean-sheet at home to a struggling Sunderland.
The Baggies will now have to admire Romelu Lukaku from afar, as the Belgian continues his tour of the Premier League on loan at Everton. And having sat out the Toffees’ 1-0 victory against Chelsea, Lukaku (7.4) can finally be unleashed on West Ham.
Captain choice: He is expensive, and I have not mentioned him so far, but Olivier Giroud (9.0) is already showing signs of an outstanding understanding with Ozil, and the Frenchman is my tip to score highly this weekend.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald