Barclays Premier League 2011/12 returns following the International Break on the afternoon of Saturday 15th October, when Game Week 8 begins.
Liverpool v Man Utd – Kick Off (BST) 12:45
The match day on Saturday begins with the monster meet-up of Liverpool v Manchester United at Anfield. United travel to their fierce rivals of old at the joint top of the league, unbeaten, and level on 19 points with Man City. Liverpool, however, have shown more than just green shoots of recovery this season under Kenny Dalglish and with new strike pairing Suarez and Andy Carroll both looking in fine form, they are sure to pose a threat to what has, of late, at times looked like an enfeebled United defence, short of messers Ferdinand and Vidic, but bolstered by the immense precocious talents of David De Gea in their goal.
Liverpool v United is always an excellent prospect, and, with Liverpool looking to maintain their push for a UEFA Champions League position – they currently occupy fifth spot – and riding high with a home advantage, a real hum-dinger looks to be in store for fans on Merseyside. United have been in some high scoring matches this season, as they have looked to attack their way out of trouble, so this could be a really entertaining display from both sides. Whoever finds the finishing touches in key areas will go home the happier of the two sides, one feels, though knowing, in advance, just which side that might be, is difficult.
A fascinating game of football for neutrals and partisan fans alike awaits at Anfield Road.
Manchester City v Aston Villa – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
When City welcome perennial mid-tablers, Aston Villa to the City of Manchester on Saturday at 3pm, they may well do so knowing, following Liverpool v United, that a result will put them clear at the top of the table.
Having produced some great football, and proved very difficult to break down in their opening 7 Premier League encounters, there is little to suggest that City cannot end the day as they begun it: at the top of the table. That said, Aston Villa have an excellent attacking trio, which is always capable of goals, so City will have to be cautious at the back and will likely need to score more than once to ensure victory.
With most of City’s goals coming in the second half of matches this season, it looks as though Villa’s best chance of winning this difficult away fixture lies in starting brightly, getting on the score-sheet early, and shutting up shop in the second period to face an onslaught from a Manchester City squad which always features an embarrassment of riches on it’s immensely talented bench.
Villa, with experienced heads of their own at the back, including one of the best shot-stoppers the Premier League has ever seen – in Shay Given – are certainly able to come away from Manchester with at least a point. But, to do so would, one feels, take a performance at least as good as any they have shown to date this season. A home win appears likely, but is far from guaranteed, in other words.
Norwich v Swansea – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
How these two promoted sides approach matches like this that each, arguably, will have targeted as a points opportunity may well dictate both Norwich and Swansea’s prospect of staying in the Barclays Premier League.
With both teams having put in some impressive performances against established top flight opposition in the opening seven fixtures of 2011/12, this match has all the hallmarks of a good encounter. However, there is still a danger this could turn into a cagey affair, what with expectations being so much higher at Carrow Road than they will be when facing any other side this season.
A score draw could be on the cards.
QPR v Blackburn – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
Blackburn are yet to pick up an away victory, and look to have their work cut out again against the promoted QPR, who have looked excellent for most of the seven matches they have played this season.
Time looks to be running short for Blackburn’s manager, with fans beginning to turn grumbles around the terraces into placards, and more concerted demonstrations of ill-will, so Steve Kean will be hoping that this week’s appointment of Paul Clement as his new assistant will have the desired effect and inspire the much needed win that will, depending upon other results, lift them from the drop zone.
QPR just need to show that last time’s 6-0 hammering at the hands of Fulham was an aberration, and pick up with the sort of form that saw them winning 3-0 away at Wolves three weeks ago.
Form is everything in football, though, and Blackburn may take heart from the way Fulham took QPR apart last time out. With their primarily attacking style, they may well set up top-heavy and go for a similar approach. A first away win for Blackburn would not be altogether surprising from this fixture.
Stoke v Fulham – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
Stoke have yet to lose at home, and Fulham have not won away in this seasons Barclays Premier League, but these two sides come into this fixture following remarkably differing experiences against promoted sides a fortnight ago: Stoke were humbled by Swansea, who beat them 2-0 in Wales; while Fulham finally opened the flood-gates which had been threatened a few times this term, in winning 6-0 at home to QPR.
However, the Britannia Stadium has proved, as in so many recent seasons, to be something of an inpenetrable fortress for the Potters, and Fulham will find their hosts considerably better setup at home than they can be away.
If Fulham can find, once more, their finishing touch, they are capable of achieving at least a point, and could easily pick up all three which would see them leapfrog Stoke in the table, and move up into the top half for the first time this term.
Wigan v Bolton – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
Wigan v Bolton looks like being a key indicator of who might be able to prevent themselves being drawn into a protracted relegation battle this season, as both teams go into the match in the bottom three.
A loss in this game would be not only bad for morale, it would probably see the loser finish Saturday at the foot of the table, and in danger of being more than a win away from safety come the end of the weekend.
As a result of that pressure, and the disappointing form both sides have displayed to date this season,a draw could be the most likely result, though both Bolton and Wigan have looked able to produce some good attacking play, so it could come down to just who has the coolest head in front of goal. This could be an entertaining match, too, as both teams look better going forwards than defending.
Chelsea v Everton – Kick Off (BST) 17:30
The evening fixture of this Saturday sees third placed Chelsea FC welcoming Everton, who are 13th, to Stamford Bridge.
By the evening time, Chelsea will know in advance just how important a win will be, for they could conceivably be playing for a share of the table-top, having started the day three points behind the two Manchester teams.
While a home win is all but assured, Everton will need to be considerably better than their last two league outings – both 2-0 defeats – if they are to return to Merseyside with any points. Chelsea look too strong for Everton on recent form, though, and will likely win by at least that margin on Saturday evening, unless Tim Howard and co have a good day at the office in front of the Toffees’ goal.
Barclays Premier League 2011/12 Game Week 8 Fixtures, Saturday 15 October 2011
Kick-Off times are in British Summer Time (BST) (CET -1 hour) please adjust accordingly for your own time zone:
- Liverpool v Manchester United – Kick Off (BST) 12:45
- Manchester City v Aston Villa – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
- Norwich v Swansea – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
- QPR v Blackburn – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
- Stoke v Fulham – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
- Wigan v Bolton – Kick Off (BST) 15:00
- Chelsea v Everton – Kick Off (BST) 17:30