Manchester derby dominates fixture list in EPL

Monday, November 8, 2010

LONDON - One fixture that stands out above all others in this week’s midweek Premier League programme is the Manchester derby at Eastlands Wednesday.

Manchester United, despite being far from their best, remain the only unbeaten side in the Premier League, and are only two points behind leaders Chelsea.

Manchester City have stuttered of late, losing three games in a row - two of them in the Premier League - before Sunday’s fiery win over West Bromwich Albion.

The return of Carlos Tevez after a trip back to Argentina as he recovered from a thigh injury seemed to galvanize them, and United full-back Patrice Evra agrees he is City’s most dangerous player.

“City have spent a lot of money, but for me Carlitos is easily the best player they have,” Evra said.

“They have other good players, but Tevez attacks and defends.

“They could not afford to lose him. He is a big player, the most important they have - and every single Manchester City player knows that.”

Whether Mario Balotelli, who scored both goals against West Brom, is involved is unclear. He was sent off for violent conduct, but manager Roberto Mancini indicated he would appeal against the decision.

Leaders Chelsea are at home to West London rivals Fulham, who won only one away game last season and are yet to win one this.

“We will have to be well organised, make sure we have got good shape and discipline and work really hard to keep a clean sheet,” said Fulham midfielder Danny Murphy.

“We know we are going to be under the cosh for long periods but of course we must try and cause a threat at the same time.”

After beating Chelsea Sunday, Liverpool are looking for a fifth straight win as they go to troubled Wigan Athletic, while Arsenal, after their home defeat to Newcastle, look to get their season back on track at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The pick of Tuesday’s games sees Tottenham Hotspur host a Sunderland side that has won just once away from home in the past 15 months, but which was extremely unfortunate to lose at White Hart Lane last season.

Tottenham could be without Rafael van der Vaart and Aaron Lennon, both of whom have hamstring injuries, while Darren Bent is a major doubt for Sunderland for the same reason.

Birmingham City travel to Stoke City in Tuesday’s other fixture.

Without a league win in five, Aston Villa host Blackpool Wednesday, while Bolton Wanderers go to Everton, Blackburn Rovers make the trip to Newcastle United and bottom side West Ham United face West Bromwich Albion.

“We just have to get out of there,” said West Ham’s full-back Lars Jacobsen.

“When you look at the team, look at the players, the way we play, we do not belong there.”

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