Blackburn Rovers v Manchester United
Blackburn Rovers hope to win their first game of the season at the expense of Manchester United on Saturday.
In the same fixture last May, Rovers triumphed 1-0 and after a poor start to the season, manager Graeme Souness will be desperate for a repeat.
John Stead, who scored the winner last season, looks likely to start up front with Paul Dickov. Souness also welcomes back Barry Ferguson who was suspended for the midweek 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal. Rovers also hope to obtain international clearance in time for new signing Morten Pedersen so he can make his debut against United.
The Red Devils hope to build on UEFA Champions League qualification by kick-starting their domestic campaign. Sir Alex Ferguson will keep his confidence in the young team that played with conviction on Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Dinamo Bucharest.
Jonathan Spector will make his Premiership debut as skipper Roy Keane is absent for three weeks with cracked ribs. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who did not feature against Dinamo, look set to return, while Louis Saha will appear on the bench. John O’ Shea looks likely to partner Mikael Silvestre in central defence as Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand are still unavailable through injury and suspension respectively.
The FA Cup holders have not won at Ewood Park since April 1998 and will want to win so they can keep up with pace setters Arsenal and Chelsea.
Chelsea v Southampton
Chelsea aim to keep their perfect start to the season in tact when they play Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The Blues defence have not conceded a goal in their first three matches whilst they have scored four goals at the other end.
Record signing, Didier Drogba, is expected to shake off the ankle knock that he received in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Crystal Palace. Eidur Gudjohnsen, Mateja Kezman and Adrian Mutu are all fighting to start alongside the Ivory Coast hitman up front.
Kezman started on Wednesday but coach Jose Mourinho may rotate his forwards.
Wayne Bridge is still injured so Celestine Babyaro retains his place at left back and Dutch winger, Arjen Robben, is still out with a foot injury. Joe Cole has been impressive during the start of the season and looks certain to retain his place in midfield.
Steve Wigley’s start as coach of the Saints began badly with a 2-1 home defeat to Bolton on Wednesday. Paul Telfer will continue deputising for the injured Jason Dodd at right back, while Graeme Le Saux looks set to recover from an ankle knock to face his old club.
Saints’ new signing, Alledine Yahia, is dropped while Matt Oakley, Marian Parhars and Michael Svensson miss the game due to long-term injuries.
Manchester City v Charlton
Manchester City hope to overturn a poor start to the season when Charlton visit the City of Manchester stadium on Saturday.
City have collected only one point during the first three games whereas Charlton hope to win their third consecutive match.
City boss, Kevin Keegan, welcomes back Richard Dunne. The Republic of Ireland defender has served a one-match ban and is likely to play at centre back. Danny Mills moves from makeshift centre back to play in his more familiar right back role at Sun Jihai’s expense.
New goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus, who signed from PSV mid-week, starts on the bench and Steve McManaman may feature after recovering from an Achilles knock.
Robbie Fowler, who hopes to continue his promising start to the season, teams up with Nicolas Anelka in attack.
Charlton boss, Alan Curbishley, is likely to name an unchanged team that beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Wednesday. In-form Francis Jeffers will be looking to build on his mid-week double strike.
Kevin Lisbie joins him up front as Shaun Bartlett is still struggling with an ankle injury. Jason Euell starts on the bench. Radostin Kishishev will deputise for skipper Matt Holland in midfield. The Republic of Ireland international is out for several weeks with ankle ligament damage.
Tottenham v Birmingham
Spurs have a tough match at home when they entertain Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.
The White Hart Lane outfit may recall Republic of Ireland international Robbie Keane in attack at the expense of young Jermain Defoe.
The England striker seemed to tire in the midweek trip to West Brom and manager Jacques Santini is worried the star has played to many games in a short period of time.
The Frenchman said: “He’s played three games for us and a game for England last week. It’s natural for him to be tired.”
Keane, who has missed the start of the season with ankle ligament damage, is ready to start and Michael Carrick is expected to make his Spurs debut in midfield.
Thimothee Atouba faces a fitness test after hurting his knee at the Hawthorns.
The Blues main concern is striker Emile Heskey whose goal earned his club three points against Manchester City on Wednesday.
The big striker is a major doubt for the trip to London with an ankle injury as is Stan Lazaridis. Robbie Savage is serving a three-match ban and David Dunn is out with a strained hamstring. Defender Jamie Clapham is also absent adding to the worries of manager Steve Bruce.
Middlesbrough v Crystal Palace
Middlesborough go head-to-head with Premiership new boys Crystal Palace at the Riverside stadium on Saturday.
Mark Viduka will make his home debut as he hopes to build on his goal-scoring exploit of midweek. The Australian striker bagged a goal from six yards on his debut against Fulham on Wednesday.
His goal was provided by fellow striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with what he hopes will be the start of a prolific partnership.
Viduka said: “Jimmy set up my goal and hopefully with every game and training session, we’ll get more of an understanding.
“We aim to get better and better every game and hopefully against Crystal Palace on Saturday we can continue where we left off.”
One new signing for Boro who misses the match is right back Michael Reiziger. The Dutchman has a shoulder injury and is sidelined for six weeks.
George Boateng also misses the match after being carried off in the final minute of the midweek clash at Craven Cottage.
Crystal Palace have injury doubts over Michael Hughes and Sandhor Torghelle.
Hughes picked up a calf strain during training and Hungarian striker, Torghelle, faces a late fitness test after he sustained ankle ligament damage whilst playing for his country.
Neil Shipperly and Danny Butterfield are both several weeks away from regaining fitness.
The Eagles have made a terrible start to life in the top flight but manager Iain Dowie remains hopeful of his sides potential.
He said: “If we show as much effort as we did against Chelsea midweek, then we’ll be in with a shout on Saturday.
“I can’t ask more than the effort they gave on Tuesday. I think you need to have belief in what you do and I’ve taken a lot of belief from Tuesday night and I will try to instil that into my players.”
Aston Villa v Newcastle
Aston Villa and Newcastle hope to improve on their midweek performances when they face each other at Villa Park on Saturday.
Villa were outclassed 3-0 away to Charlton whereas Newcastle let a two-goal advantage slip at Norwich in a 2-2 draw.
But Sir Bobby Robson’s side have not won away for ten months and the task may be beyond them in the Midlands.
Lee Hendrie is back in contention for a starting place for Villa after recovering from a shoulder injury.
Colombian Juan Pablo Angel will continue his rehabilitation from a knee infection on the Villa bench.
But manager David O’ Leary has a major concern over goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, who is having treatment on a knee injury. The Danish shot stopper is in cast after severe bruising during the defeat at the Valley.
The Magpies hope the return of Lee Bowyer from injury will spark some competition for places in midfield. The troubled midfielder will compete with Jermaine Jenas and Kieron Dyer for a place alongside Nicky Butt in central midfield.
Patrick Kliuvert will observe the match from the bench as Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy are reluctant to forfeit their places.
Everton v Wets Browm
Everton fans hope the Wayne Rooney transfer saga will not affect their team’s focus when they welcome West Brom to Goodison Park on Saturday.
The Toffees are boosted by the news that striker Kevin Campbell has recovered from a knee injury and is included in the squad.
But manager David Moyes is without Gary Naysmith who is suspended following his sending off at Crystal Palace last weekend. Chinese midfielder Li Tie has returned to the club but is not match fit following his countries’ escapades in the Asian Cup.
West Brom boss, Gary Megson, is hoping his team can record their first victory after drawing the opening three matches.
Hungarian international, Zoltan Gera, retains his place on the right side of midfield following his goal midweek against Spurs.
The Baggies are still without Jason Koumas who is serving his last match of a four match ban carried over from last season. Robert Hulse is out with a stomach strain as is Larus Sigurdsson who is recovering from a knee injury.
Arsenal v Norwich
Arsenal hope to extend their amazing record-breaking unbeaten streak to 44 matches when they host new boys Norwich, at Highbury, in the 1745 kick off on Saturday.
The Champions have been awesome in the beginning of their title defence scoring 12 goals in three matches.
Manager Arsene Wenger is expected to name the same side that dismantled Blackburn on Wednesday with Jose Antonio Reyes playing on the left and Dennis Bergkamp up front. Robin van Persie and Edu have recovered from injury and are likely to start on the bench.
But the Gunners are still without inspirational captain Patrick Vieira and defensive rock Sol Campbell. Both have long-term injuries but are expected to resume full training next week.
The Canaries are without on-loan David Bentley who is not allowed to play against his contract holders at Highbury. But with the exception of Phil Mulryne who is out with a calf strain, boss Nigel Worthington has a fully fit squad to choose his starting XI.
And after facing Manchester United and Newcastle away in their previous two matches, the fixtures have been tough for the promoted side.
Worthington said: “We will give it our best shot and hope the lads can pass the ball as well as they did against Newcastle. I hope we play like that and mix it with the best.”
Bolton v Liverpool
In Sunday’s fixture, Liverpool make the short trip across Lancashire to Bolton for their clash at the Reebok stadium.
Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez, will give debuts to Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia after the pair were ineligible for Tuesday’s defeat to Austrian champions Grazer AK.
Alonso’s introduction to central midfield alongside skipper Steven Gerrard means Dietmar Hamman is relegated to the bench.
Garcia looks certain to start on the right side of midfield at the expense of youngster Darren Potter.
Josemi’s recovery from a back injury means that Jamie Carragher will revert back to central defence in place of Stephane Henchoz who drops to the bench.
The Reds are still missing goalkeeper Chris Kirkland with a back injury and long-term casualty Vladimir Smicer.
Bolton seek their first win over the Merseysiders in five attempts.
Trotters’ manager, Sam Allerdyce, is likely to keep faith with the side that beat Southampton on Wednesday at St Mary’s.
This means that Tunisian Radhi Jaidi retains his place but Brazilian defender Julio Cesar misses out.
El Hadji Diouf is ineligible to play against Liverpool who loaned him out to Bolton.