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'The biggest derby in the league' and this weekend's Premier League talking points

Liverpool travel 30-odd miles to Old Trafford, second-placed Crystal Palace entertain the league leaders and Chelsea are at Goodison.

Both Louis van Gaal and Brendan Rodgers could do with wins.
Both Louis van Gaal and Brendan Rodgers could do with wins.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

1. Old rivalries renewed at Old Trafford

“THIS IS THE biggest derby game in the history of this league,” explained Brendan Rodgers at his pre-match press conference yesterday.

They may not be the Premier League’s top two clubs, but the meeting of Manchester United and Liverpool is still a special occasion. Both have amassed seven points from their opening four matches after relatively unspectacular starts so Rodgers and Louis van Gaal need a victory — especially after losing on their last outings before the international break.

The news that David de Gea has signed a four-year contract is a welcome boost to the home side and the Spaniard could well be restored between the posts.

2. Champions lose Courtois

While Man United have a goalkeeper back in their ranks, champions Chelsea will be without number one Thibaut Courtois as he requires knee surgery. No date has been set for his return but it is clear that Asmir Begovic will deputise for a considerable length of time.

Languishing in 14th-place after defeats to Manchester City and, most recently, Crystal Palace, Jose Mourinho will be desperate to close the eight-point gap between themselves and the top of the table.

Captain John Terry is back in the squad after serving his one-game suspension, while the spotlight will undoubtedly be on the man Chelsea have been trying to buy as his long-term replacement — Toffees defender John Stones.

3. First play second

It may sound strange, but there’s a top-of-the-table clash at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.

Crystal Palace have gone from strength-to-strength under Alan Pardew after finishing 11th last season and three wins plus a defeat to Arsenal puts them second only to Man City and their 100% record.

David Silva’s ankle injury gives City boss Manuel Pellegrini the perfect opportunity to hand £52 million (€71m) man Kevin de Bruyne his club debut, while Fabian Delph is unavailable after picking up a hamstring problem on international duty with England.

4. Potters look to end losing run


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Soccer - Capital One Cup - Second Round - Luton Town v Stoke City - Kenilworth Road Available: Jon Walters. Source: Steven_Paston

Stoke have faced Arsenal away in the Premier League seven times and lost on each occasion. The Potters, second from bottom with just two points so far, are still looking for their first win of the season, while the Gunners are unbeaten in their last three since going down to West Ham a month ago.

From an Irish point of view, Jon Walters is back in the Stoke squad having failed to clinch a move away on deadline day. The striker scored the decisive goal as Ireland overcame Georgia and he is an asset Mark Hughes would be foolish to waste.

5. Foxes and Swans riding high

Leicester City and, to a lesser extent, Swansea City have pleasantly surprised during the first month of the new campaign and both currently occupy top four spots.

The Swans, no doubt high on confidence after the win over Manchester United and with Premier League Player of the Month Andre Ayew in their ranks, are at Vicarage Road to take on newly-promoted Watford, while Leicester host Aston Villa on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see how long they, and second-placed Palace, can mix it with the big boys as the weeks go by.

Incredible turnaround as De Gea signs new 4-year deal at Man United

Training ground injury rules one of Chelsea’s key players out for lengthy period

About the author:

Ben Blake

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