Premier League First Saturday Preview
Arsenal v Sunderland
Everton v Man United
Fulham v Norwich City
Manchester City v Southampton
Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Queens Park Rangers v Swansea City
Reading v Stoke City
West Brom v Liverpool
West Ham v Aston Villa
Wigan v Chelsea
And here we go. It’s back. Saturday sees the first set of fixtures in the 2012/2013 Premier League. And if it’s half as good as last season it’ll be a classic.
Some highlights immediately jump out. Manchester City host newly promoted Southampton at the Etihad. It should be the perfect fixture to ease them into a tricky season. At least on the face of it. Newly promoted teams often come up on a roll, and have simply got in to the habit of winning. They could shock the Champions.
Though it’s unlikely. City have made no major signings this summer - to the consternation of Roberto Mancini. Mancini has been taking out his frustrations on City Administrative officer Brian Marwood, who he blames for the lack of signings.
But it’s difficult to see in what areas City are lacking. They still have the cohesive unit that won them the title last season, and with Tevez back in the fold - as good as a new signing, as the cliche goes - City will be just fine.
The match of the day on the Saturday will very likely be the tussle between Newcastle and Tottenham. Spurs thumped the Magpies 5-0 at White Hart lane back in February, at exactly the time Harry Redknapp needed a a bit of joy in his life, embroiled in the England saga as he was.
While the last two encounters at St James' Park (the Sports Direct Arena) have been scoring draws.
Andre Villas Boas has a rebuilding job at Spurs, though perhaps one not as drastic as he was confronted with at Chelsea. He has younger players on his hands at Tottenham.
A positive start to the AVB project will be in the forefront of his mind.
Meanwhile Alan Pardew will have a job on his hands living up to the lofty achievements of last season. From nowhere Newcastle finished fifth, playing an exciting, compelling brand of football. They were unpredictable; first with Demba Ba then Papice Cisse. They are slightly more of a known quantity this season.
And with the added distraction - though no doubt welcome distraction at St James’ Park - of European football; if they match, or even approach the achievements of last year it will be a great achievement.
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