This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 2 April, 2020

Preview: Premier League gameweek five

It’s round five in the Premier League and the top and bottom are both starting to take shape.

Everton's Victor Anichebe will hope to have better luck with officials than he did against Newcastle.
Everton's Victor Anichebe will hope to have better luck with officials than he did against Newcastle.
Image: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

SWANSEA v EVERTON – Liberty Stadium, 12.45pm

Swansea City and Everton will be looking to continue their bright starts to the English Premier League season at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The departure of manager Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool was expected to unsettle Swansea, but they have started life under Michael Laudrup well.

It has come largely thanks to new Spanish forward Michu, who has netted four league goals after switching from Rayo Vallecano.

His form has seen Swansea score an equal league-high 10 goals in their opening four games, recording victories over Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United.

Injuries and suspensions have seen Swansea left without the likes of Neil Taylor, Kyle Bartley and Chico Flores at times this season.

Defender Alan Tate, who is likely to keep his spot alongside Ben Davies for the clash at Liberty Stadium, said his team were eager to bounce back from their 2-0 loss to Aston Villa.

“To be fair, we have a good attitude and character within this squad, and we don’t go over the top when we win and we don’t hit rock bottom when we lose,” he said.

“We’ll just get back to training down and make sure we are fully prepared for a tough game with a very good Everton side.”

David Moyes’ men were unfortunate not to collect all three points against Newcastle last time out, drawing 2-2 at Goodison Park on Monday.

Everton striker Victor Anichebe was denied a clear goal after his header had crossed the line but was not awarded.

Since their surprise win over Manchester United in their opening league fixture, Everton have registered a win over Aston Villa, a loss to surprise packets West Bromwich Albion and the Newcastle draw.

The Merseyside club have conceded all five of their goals this Premier League season in the second half, a trend Moyes will hope ends sooner rather than later.

Attacker Steven Pienaar has returned to Everton in fine form, scoring once and setting up two others to start the campaign.

More of the same will be needed from the South African international when his side meet Swansea.

WIGAN v FULHAM – DW Stadium, 3.00pm

Fringe Wigan strikers Mauro Boselli and Callum McManaman have given manager Roberto Martinez many options ahead of their clash with Fulham.

While Franco Di Santo and Arouna Kone have been the main forwards used by Martinez so far this season, Wigan’s manager was thrilled to see Boselli and McManaman put in 100%effort for the club’s Under-21 team as they try to earn a first-team start at the DW Stadium this weekend.

Both Boselli and McManaman scored in a 3-3 draw and Martinez has conceded he faces some hard decisions, although he is happy to have options ahead of three games in the space of a week.

“We’re going into a busy period, we’ve got the game against Fulham at the weekend and West Ham in the Capital One cup on Tuesday, before travelling to Sunderland next Saturday,” Martinez said.

“It’s going to be a very busy period, we need everyone fully fit.

“It’s great to see the desire of Mauro Boselli wanting to play the game with the Under-21′s on Monday and obviously Callum McManaman performing very well at that level is very pleasing.

“It’s good to have that competition in the squad.”

Wigan have a win and a draw from their four games so far this season but head into Saturday’s clash with Fulham on the back of a 4-0 thrashing by Manchester United, while Fulham dismantled West Bromwich Albion with a 3-0 triumph last round.

That victory was Dimitar Berbatov’s starting debut for Fulham and the Bulgarian striker scored the London club’s first two goals of the game.

Berbatov’s first goal came after some good lead-up work by young Swedish midfielder Alexander Kacaniklic, who has been a real bright point to Fulham’s start of the season.

Kacaniklic scored in Fulham’s first match of the season as they destroyed Norwich 5-0 and earned some praise from his partner on the left wing, Norwegian full-back John-Arne Riise.

“He (Kacaniklic) works hard, he’s young and keen to learn,” Riise said.

“I like having him in front of me because I know he’ll do a lot of good things.

“It looks good for the rest of the season.”

Fulham manager Martin Jol’s main injury concern for their trip to Wigan is whether Bryan Ruiz will be ready, as the Costa Rican attacker is only rated 50-50 with a hamstring problem.

Wigan have only one name on their injury list, with central defender Antolin Alcaraz (groin) expected to be fit for Saturday’s match.


Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill may have to do without recent acquisition Adam Johnson for his side’s tricky trip to West Ham.

Johnson has played two matches for Sunderland since joining in a 12 million pound move from Manchester City but the 25-year-old winger has been on the club’s injury list since straining his thigh while on international duty with England a fortnight ago.

Sunderland had expected Johnson to be fit again for the trip south to take on West Ham after he missed last week’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool but O’Neill has now conceded that is unlikely after a setback in the winger’s recovery.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” O’Neill said.

“We were hoping he would have made it for the Liverpool game, he did a little bit on Thursday and didn’t feel any sort of ill effects on it at all, then on Friday he pulled up after a minute or two, so I really just don’t know.

“It was a blow to us, because we were hoping he could make it.”

Johnson started his Sunderland career with assists in the club’s League Cup victory over Morecambe and their 2-2 draw with Swansea.

Sunderland have brought in a number of new players for this season with Johnson joined by the likes of Steven Fletcher, Louis Saha and Carlos Cuellar as newcomers to the squad.

But O’Neill remains unconvinced his side has improved and concedes injuries will probably decide Sunderland’s season.

“I’m obviously delighted with Fletcher and delighted that we’ve been able to get Adam Johnson in, I think we’ve missed him because he’s able to give us that extra something which we just don’t possess in abundance here,” O’Neill said.

“But we’ve also lost a few players too and we need the major players to stay fit – that’s the most important thing.

“If they do, then we’ll be okay.”

Sunderland have started the EPL season with three draws and will head to London hoping to earn their first league victory of the season.

But O’Neill’s men will face a tough challenge in Sam Allardyce’s West Ham, who have started their first season back in the EPL with two wins, a draw and a loss.

Allardyce’s big worry ahead of Sunday’s game will be who to start up front with Andy Carroll still out with a hamstring injury and Carlton Cole having limped off in West Ham’s 0-0 draw away to Norwich with a troublesome toe.

That could open the door for Malian striker Modibo Maiga, who has yet to start a match for West Ham since joining from Sochaux in the summer, although he has come off the bench three times.

Fernando Torres will look to bounce back from Chelsea’s last two disappointing draws.
(C) Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images

CHELSEA v STOKE – Stamford Bridge, 3.00pm

They may sit atop the Premier League standings, but Chelsea will be desperate to return to winning ways when they host Stoke City on Saturday.

After draws in their past two starts against Juventus and Queens Park Rangers, a matchup with Stoke offers the perfect opportunity for the Blues to flex their muscle.

Recent history is well and truly on their side.

Stoke have only scored three goals in eight Premier League meetings with Chelsea and have failed to score in each of their past four visits to Stamford Bridge in all competitions.

In their last 10 games against Stoke, Chelsea have won eight and drawn twice.

High on Robert Di Matteo’s wish list will be an improved showing from striker Fernando Torres.

With Didier Drogba gone, much of the team’s potency rests on the shoulders of Torres who struggled last weekend against QPR, blundering chances to score both in each half.

The Blues will be sweating on the fitness of Brazilian midfielder Oscar who marked his first Chelsea start with a first half brace in the Champions League before limping off after half-time with an ankle injury.

For Stoke, they travel to Stamford Bridge still unbeaten, but yet to win, after drawing their first four league games for the first time in their history.

Tony Pulis’ side have some important momentum after claiming a point off reigning champions Manchester City last weekend but know it won’t get any easier against Chelsea.

For them to win, Peter Crouch and Jonathan Walters must have a solid game up front, and the Stoke defenders must keep Torres quiet.

Pulis admits Stoke must improve vastly on their effort at the Britannia Stadium against City where he said they lacked intensity and were lucky to snare a point.

“I think we will get better. It will be nice to have them next week and work with them,” Pulis told reporters.

“We still need to retain our commitment and organisation but we have to retain the ball better when we do get it. There were times when we were giving it away too cheaply.”

WEST BROM v READING – The Hawthorns, 3.00pm

West Bromwich Albion will be hoping to bounce back from their loss to Fulham when they welcome Reading to the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Steve Clarke’s side made a fine start to their English Premier League campaign, collecting seven points from their first three games.

A 3-0 loss at Fulham brought that run to an end, but a home clash against Reading shapes as a good opportunity to return to winning ways.

Clarke will be without forward Peter Odemwingie for the encounter after the Nigerian international was sent off for kicking out at Sascha Riether against Fulham.

More responsibility falls on the shoulders of Shane Long up front, while Romelu Lukaku, on loan from Chelsea, could also be given a chance.

Long, who moved to West Brom from Reading last season, has promised not to celebrate against his former club should he score.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Long told the club’s website.

“It’s going to be strange playing against the shirt I played in for six years, but hopefully I’ll have the bragging rights come the end of the game.

“I know the Reading lads very well and they’ve been quite unlucky not have to more than one point from their opening three games.”

Reading are still searching for their first win of the season having only managed a draw in three games.

Alex McCarthy started in goal during Reading’s 3-1 loss to Tottenham, with first-choice shot-stopper Adam Federici dropped.

Reading manager Brian McDermott has said the decision to leave Federici out was due to form, not fitness, after the Australian made several mistakes early in the season.

Pavel Pogrebnyak, so prolific with Fulham, has netted one goal for his new club and McDermott would love for the Russian striker to build on that form in coming games.

A trip to the Hawthorns would normally be a chance for Reading to collect at least a hard-fought point, but West Brom have been impressive so far this campaign.

SOUTHAMPTON v ASTON VILLA, – St. Mary’s, 3.00pm

Newly promoted Southampton will be eyeing their first point of the English Premier League season when they host Aston Villa on Saturday.

Narrow losses to both Manchester City and Manchester United and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Wigan appeared a solid start for Nigel Adkins’ men.

But Southampton were handed a heavy 6-1 loss by Arsenal last time out, leaving them the only team without a point in the league this season.

While Adkins paid tribute to the quality of Arsenal, he was unhappy with his team’s inability to keep possession at Emirates Stadium.

His side had similar problems in the disappointing loss at home to Wigan and Adkins will be hopeful of improvement at St Mary’s Stadium.

Southampton captain Adam Lallana has consistently impressed early in the campaign, while star striker Rickie Lambert has contributed two goals and an assist.

Lallana was handed an England call-up by manager Roy Hodgson for the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, giving Lambert hope he too will be given a chance at international level.

“It does (give me hope),” Lambert told the Daily Echo. “But I’ll always say, it’s a cliche, but all I’m focused on is doing well for Southampton.

“Obviously, it does give you hope. Adam plays for Southampton and he has been called up. I have to concentrate on my game and whatever comes then fine.

“Whether I get it or not, it is brilliant news for Adam.”

Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa recorded their first league win of the season with a 2-0 victory at home to Swansea City.

Matthew Lowton and Christian Benteke scored the goals at Villa Park, but Australian attacker Brett Holman received the plaudits for his energetic display.

Villa have only scored four goals in as many league games, with Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann both yet to find the net.

Lambert will have to make do without the likes of Richard Dunne (groin) and Marc Albrighton (foot), but Gabriel Agbonlahor could make a timely return from a knee injury.

Michael Murphy: ‘Whatever perception people have of Donegal footballers, it is not something that bothers us’

Laudrup wants Swansea fortress

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article

About the author:

Steven O'Rourke

Read next: