PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW – WEEK 9
By Eric White
MANCHESTER United manager Louis Van Gaal knows his side need a positive result against Chelsea if they are to convince the Old Trafford fans of an improvement since last season.
United had Daley Blind to thank in their last Premier League fixture after the Dutchman struck a long-range strike away at West Brom in the 87th to salvage a point for the Red Devils.
Chelsea meanwhile are many people’s favourites for the title and Jose Mourinho will no doubt look to pounce on any opportunity given by United’s suspect defence.
It is a mammoth tie between the two of the most successful sides in the Premier League era but you have to feel defeat would be a bigger blow to United than Chelsea, despite the Blue’s championship aspirations.
Arsenal and Sunderland face each other at the Stadium of Light with both sides in dire need of a win.
The Gunners have 11 points from eight games and sit two points outside of the top four while Sunderland were hammered 8-0 by in-form Southampton last time out.
Arsene Wenger was dealt a lifeline midweek when his side came from behind to edge Anderlecht in the final two minutes of their Champions League match, and he will be hoping this side of the Arsenal team is shown in full force once again.
Mario Balotelli is coming under increased scrutiny after his shirt swap with Real Madrid’s Pepe at half-time in their 3-0 loss to the European champions, and he will be hoping, should he be picked to start, he can produce on the pitch rather than off it against Hull City.
Steve Bruce’s side gave Arsenal a scare recently and will be out on the road aiming to trouble another giant when they travel to Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers does not need telling that defeat in this game would be a massive blow to his club’s season – it is no longer assumed Liverpool will win at Anfield. They seem to have lost the intimidating edge to their play of last season where Luis Suarez was so influential.
West Ham’s Diafra Sakho will look to find the net for sixth consecutive Premier League game when West Ham host Champions Manchester City.
City, despite their disappointment result in Moscow, have improved as the weeks have gone on in the league and are beginning to look like genuine challengers already.
West Ham have reason to be confident though; they sit fourth in the league, having scored 15 goals so far this season, a very impressive feat.
QPR welcome Aston Villa to Loftus Road knowing they cannot afford any other result than a victory in their quest to stay in the top league.
Manager Harry Redknapp described his side as “naÃ¯ve beyond belief” against Liverpool and he knows that naivety cannot leak into their performances any longer, otherwise it will be too late.