The fourth round of fixtures in the Premier League kicks off on Saturday. The very first match is the biggest of the lot with the two Manchester giants clashing at Old Trafford. Manchester City and Manchester United are two of the three teams that have won all three of their opening fixtures.
Although Sergio Aguero is set to miss the derby following his FA ban, Ilkay Gundogan is expected to make his debut in the high-profile clash. Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne have looked sharp in their international and previous league outings.
City will test a Manchester United defence that has only conceded one goal in their campaign so far. More debuts on the cards as goalie Claudi Bravo is expected to be in front of the post for City.
While much has been spoken of the renewal of the Jose Mourinho-Pep Guardiola rivalry, City will be wary of a charged Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has hit the ground running at United, and also famously holds a personal vendetta against Pep Guardiola, under whom he played for one season at Barcelona.
According to reports, the upcoming Manchester Derby will be the most expensive match ever played. Players worth more than 600 million pounds will be up against each other at Old Trafford on Saturday.
More red in store
Liverpool host defending champions Leicester City on the same day. Liverpool have had a mixed start to the season which started off well with an away victory against Arsenal but was negated by defeat to Burnley and a draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
Still, this is Liverpool’s first league match at home in the new season and it is always a daunting task to face the Reds at Anfield. Liverpool have conceded as many as six goals in three matches this season and it is this defensive frailty that Leicester will be looking to take advantage of with Jamie Vardy scoring his first league goal in their last match against Swansea City. The Foxes added some firepower to their squad on transfer deadline day with the inclusion of Algerian striker Islam Slimani.
Arsenal and Southampton face each other at the Emirates stadium on Saturday. Wenger is likely to give debuts to centre back Shkordan Mustafi and attacker Lucas Perez. Both were signed from Spain on the last days of the transfer window and are yet to show their calibre in their Premier League although Perez had a star turn in the 2015-16 La liga season playing for Deportivo la Coruna. Southampton is yet to taste victory this season while Arsenal will be looking to improve on their first win last week against Watford.
Bournemouth’s deadline day signing of Jack Wilshere from Arsenal on loan was seen as a coup of sorts and the Englishman is expected to make his league debut in his side’s match-up against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Nacer Chadli also may first appearance as a West Brom player in the tie.
On Sunday, Chelsea travel to Wales to face Swansea City. Swansea face a daunting task against Antonio Conte’s side who, like the Manchester clubs, have won all three of their opening fixtures this season. David Luiz is expected to start for Chelsea after his shock transfer back to the West London giants from Paris Saint-Germain. A rejuvenated Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and new Belgian Michy Batshuayi will all be knocking on the doors of the Swansea defence that did look leaky in their last week’s fixture against Leicester City.
West Ham United will be looking for a second successive victory at their new home stadium as they face Watford on Saturday. Finally, the fourth Premier League match week ends with Sunderland hosting Everton at the Stadium of Light.
Apart from the Manchester Derby,the performances to be put in by the scores of deadline day signings would be in focus during this week’s fixtures. As for the derby itself, with the obvious quality that the two clubs have at their disposal, the jury is out on whether Manchester will remain red, blue or divided post the clash.