Premier League preview, Week 5: The Manchester Derby looms large

Michael Regan

There are a lot of decent and watchable games in England this weekend, but the one in Manchester is going to steal all the spotlight.

Norwich City vs. Aston Villa

Carrow Road; Saturday, 12:45 GMT/7:45 AM ET

It's been a full season now so the Paul-Lambert-facing-his-former-team narrative is somewhat stale, but as a result of that betrayal these two sides have developed a pretty decent semi-rivalry. Both clubs have a similar approach to talent acquisition that still manages to lend each side with a unique identity, but at their best both sides are going to be looking to take advantage of openings on the break. That can lead to an open, end-to-end affair, and it can also lead to an absolute bore of a waste of 90 minutes of your life. No way to know which it is if you don't tune in!

Liverpool vs. Southampton

Anfield; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

This is one of those games where the hipster types* just aren't sure what to do. Liverpool plays nice football after quite some time in the wilderness, Southampton plays nicer (but undeniably worse) football after a similar amount of time in the wilderness (but falling from a lower pedestal.) This will probably be the most enjoyable game of the weekend, and the cutting remarks about its lack of entertainment value/relative quality/historical significance will likely outnumber the goals scored in this match by several hundred million to one, meaning there will likely be five or six goals scored in this game.

*Me

Newcastle United vs. Hull City Tigers

St. James' Park; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Newcastle showed quite well in their last time out against Aston Villa, snagging three road points versus a side which they'll be measured against come the end of the season. Hull City is impossible to measure at this point having looked solid in every match but only managing four points from four games thus far. This is one that Newcastle should probably win, but it's also just as easily one they could lose and, come the end of the season, not feel all that badly about.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Sunderland

The Hawthorns; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Well, this is the battle for...Stephane Sessegnon's pride, I guess? There's no good reason for anyone to feel good about anything relating to Sunderland right now because they are managed by an absolute lunatic and playing like a rotting pile of garbage, but West Brom will likely be happy to get a point from this game. That's about all you need to know about this.

West Ham United vs. Everton

Upton Park; Saturday, 15:00 GMT/10:00 AM ET

Sam Allardyce ruins everything.

But wait, didn't Everton look quite good in their win over Chelsea last weekend?

Yes. But how is that relevant? Because Sam Allardyce ruins everything.

Well, surely you don't think Big Sam's influence is enough to knock a decent club that's playing quite well off their stride.

Oh, but I do! Because Sam Allardyce ruins everything.

Well, that's an unfortunately cynical worldview.

Yes, it is.

Chelsea vs. Fulham

Stamford Bridge; Saturday, 17:30 GMT/12:30 PM ET

London Derby or something I guess? Chelsea's been far from impressive so far this season, with a mid-week home loss to Basel not doing a great deal to improve spirits around the club. Still, Jose Mourinho is back, and everyone seems quite happy and patient with that circumstance. But if the Blues can't handle a Fulham side that's been the very definition of mediocre so far this season? Well, that could seemingly change things quite a bit.

Arsenal vs. Stoke City

Emirates Stadium; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET

So in spite of that whole thing where Arsenal didn't buy anyone during the summer window-until they bought one of the best attacking midfielders in the world-and in spite of a terrible start-which was actually just one loss to a decent Villa team and followed up with three straight league wins bookended by impressive Champions League romps-this team looks like it might actually be kind of good.

Unfortunately they're playing Stoke, so this game will be terrible.

Crystal Palace vs. Swansea City

Selhurst Park; Sunday, 13:30 GMT/8:30 AM ET

Swansea has not, to this point, looked especially impressive this season, but to focus on that over the course of three games is to forget that this is a side that, on its day, was as good and fluid as any other in the league last season. Off its day? Pretty bad. There's still a whole lot of talent at Michael Laudrup's disposal, and if Swans' 3-0 away thumping of Valencia is any indication, they're starting to come together.

Cardiff City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Cardiff City Stadium; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 PM ET

Things are going reasonably well for Cardiff on their first appearance in the Premier League, with five points from their last three including a win over Manchester City and draws with Everton and Hull. They'll face another stiff challenge in Spurs, who have looked quite formidable in every outing this season including their sole loss to Arsenal, and if Cardiff can manage a result in this one it's reasonable to at least begin considering that they are not the automatic relegation candidates which they might have seemed at the start of the season.

Manchester City vs. Manchester United

Etihad Stadium; Sunday, 16:00 GMT/11:00 AM ET

This is a huge rivalry now, whether or not a bunch of stuffy purists wish to acknowledge it as such. City and United are likely to be battling it out for the title to some extent for at the very least the next decade, and with new eras underway at each club respectively this is an interesting point in the history of the two clubs. The early season results from each side have been somewhat disappointing, but the talent is clearly present on both ends; there's no guarantee of this being a classic kind of match, but there's little doubt it will at the very least be somewhat informative.

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