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Bursting the Sky Blues' bubble

chris_dring

Super Sunday in the English Premier League sees the standout fixture of Man City v Man United, while Tottenham face north London rivals Chelsea

LAST Sunday's headlines were undoubtedly stolen by Adebayor's disgraceful antics, which is such a shame because the football played was more than enough to fill all the back pages. Manchester City will surely dominate them once again Sunday, taking centre stage as they face their more prestigious local rivals Man United, with Chelsea against Spurs in the first major London derby of the campaign.

Man United shook off their inconsistent start to dismantle Tottenham and finally stamp their mark on the new season. Berbatov emerged from his slumber, and alongside Rooney he cut through Spurs with ease. Ferdinand’s return stabilised the defense, and with Sir Alex’s mockery of City’s ambitions during the summer, he will want to be the man to burst the blue half of Manchester’s bubble.

With Robinho injured against Arsenal, Mark Hughes wisely chose a more couscous lineup, and De Jong, in his first start of the season, shone in a role not to dissimilar to the one Makelele perfected.

With a whole host of strikers missing, City will look to defend deep and hit United hard on the counterattack, which they performed with such verve and vigour against the Gunners.

What should be different against United and which should swing the tie towards the red half of Manchester, is how clinical they are in the final third. Arsenal spurn countless chances, but Sir Alex’s men inevitably always seem to find the back of the net. City are hampered by the absence of Adebayor (three-match ban), Robinho and Tevez, and this one is likely to be the first blip of the season for Mark Hughes. Yet again Rooney will be the catalyst, and the only hope for Man City is if Given can continue his fine form in goal to steal the show with a clean sheet.

Chelsea, in all competitions, have played seven and won seven. That arrogance and self-belief Morinho once brought to the club seems to have returned under Ancelotti.

Spurs travel to Stamford Bridge after being taught a lesson by the champion’s last time out. They played with three strikers on the pitch, and were far too open to compete with a compact, well-oiled machine such as United. It’s difficult to see how Spurs can change their style of play, and they should be punished if Chelsea maintain their top form.

Drogba, well-rested midweek due to suspension, should once again be Chelsea’s driving force and most obvious pick for your fantasy team along with the ever-consistent Lampard. The way Spurs is set up to play, you can’t see this being a dour encounter, but at the same time you can only see the Blues cementing their credentials as favourites for the title.

Arsene Wenger must be wondering how his youngsters failed to pick up any points from the past two games. Arsenal seems to need twice as many chances to score in comparison with their rivals. Luckily they’re at home to Wigan this Saturday, and should get back on track with a comfortable victory.

Wigan are unpredictable, but the Gunners have far too much class for them and should pass them off the park. Van Persie opened his account last weekend and again you expect him to find the back off the net. With Fabregas conducting his teammates, this is a nailed-on home banker if there is such a thing.

Liverpool seem to be slowly recovering from an unimpressive start. They appear to want to keep the attacking football that almost brought them the title last season, which also finally ended Benitez’s reputation as a defense-minded coach. They visit West Ham, who are wobbling under the financial tribulations Zola has been forced to manage.

Despite the club’s loss of quality players and a squad dependant on academy players, Zola has still produced an attractive side to watch.
Unfortunately Liverpool could overrun them, and this match seems on paper to be men against boys. Gerrard and Torres will as always be the main threat, but the Reds netted four last week without their two stars on the scoresheet. Carlton Cole will be desperate to impress, but it’s doubtful he’ll receive the service and Liverpool should take all three points.

The rest of weekend’s matches don’t necessarily capture the imagination, but are still key games, and there are some fine opportunities to pick up points for your fantasy team. Villa can be erratic at home, but you expect them to defeat a Portsmouth side still waiting for its first point. Everton look a shadow of the side that over achieved last term, but you’d fancy them to beat an average Blackburn outfit. Burnley v Sunderland could be entertaining, and is my recommendation for the weekend. It kicks off the sixth round of ties, and is one of those games when you really don’t know what to expect.

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