Man Utd v Chelsea – Michael Carrick v Frank Lampard
The ex-West Ham team-mates square up in the centre of a fascinating encounter between the free-scoring reds and a Chelsea side getting the job done whilst they adjust to their new gaffer’s ways. Ferguson’s team selection will be interesting because he routinely shows his cockney rivals the ultimate respect of adapting his team to one of toil and endeavour in these fixtures. Will their sensational start prompt an exception to his usual strategy of packing his midfield with Park and Fletcher to swamp at the Swamp? Regardless, with the absence of the injured Cleverley, Carrick is a shoo-in to start with Anderson given more licence to roam and this represents a crucial test for the under-valued midfielder. A ninety-minute nullification of Lampard will help his cause no end.
Spurs v Liverpool – Emmanuel Adebayor v Daniel Agger
Adebayor is one of those exasperating players who starts off great at each new club before soon losing interest and becoming a lackadaisical figure who drifts in and out of games. Until that inevitability occurs and the ball starts bouncing off him and he half-heartedly runs down blind alleys – let’s say five or six matches in – Spurs have got themselves a potent match-winning weapon. On his home debut the gangly Togolese maverick will be intent on proving a point that wouldn’t need proving if he actually utilised his ability on a consistent basis. Even so a focussed and determined Adebayor presents a huge threat to the Liverpool back-line and in particular Daniel Agger who will surely be employed to man-mark throughout.
Agger has been an ever-present in the league thus far which means that – after four games – he only needs to last half an hour of this encounter to beat his previous record of consecutive games played without succumbing to injury.
The great Dane is never one to shy from a battle and he’ll have to be on his mettle this Sunday lunchtime to avoid a roasting from a player on a temporary mission.
Aston Villa v Newcastle United – Danny Simpson v Gabriel Agbonlahor
The Villa speed merchant has started the season brightly and is always capable of giving even the best full-backs a torrid time of it on home turf – Michel Salgado is still waking up with cold sweats after having his arse handed to him last month. Danny Simpson meanwhile has impressed this term but will have to sneak some adhesive onto the pitch should he wish to stay with the blistering pace of Galloping Gabby. Simpson called City striker Edin Dzeko a ‘pony’ just prior to the campaign starting; after six goals in four for the burly Bosnian let’s hope he shows better judgement here and shows his target out wide and away from danger at every opportunity.