Stoke v Arsenal – Britannia Stadium, 1.30pm
Stoke City will make their Britannia Stadium bow this season, when they host Arsenal in the English Premier League on Sunday.
Both sides drew their domestic season openers, with the Londoners held at home by Sunderland 0-0, and City conceding a penalty late away to Reading in a 1-1 stalemate.
Arsene Wenger’s men already showed that they missed the killer instinct of departed striker Robin van Persie, as they failed to penetrate the Sunderland goal at the Emirates.
And they will find it hard to earn their first win this weekend, as Stoke lost just four home Premier League games last season and none of them were to the title contenders (Sunderland 1-0, WBA 2-1, QPR 3-2 and Newcastle 3-1), which shows they know how to handle the big clubs when they visit.
Van Persie scored three goals in two matches against Stoke last season, and the Dutchman’s absence could be telling but one that Wenger’s side is going to have to come to terms with sooner rather than later.
Conversely, Stoke will be hoping striker Peter Crouch can continue his run against Arsenal, after he scored in both fixtures against the side last term.
Stoke have just the lone injury concern, with Jermaine Pennant (thigh) in doubt and set for a slow start to the season after he was denied access to the United States to join his side for their pre-season tour due to a drink-driving conviction.
Arsenal already have an extensive injury list, with Laurent Koscielny (calf), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (calf), Bacary Sagna (leg), Emmanuel Frimpong (knee) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) all in the wars.
Sagna and Koscielny are two absences that will worry Wenger, as Arsenal’s defence is their most vulnerable part on the pitch.
If Crouch and strike partner Jon Walters can wreak havoc up front, it could further deepen Arsenal’s woes early in the season.
Liverpool v Manchester City – Anfield, 4pm
Liverpool will be out to avenge their woeful start to the English Premier League season at home to champions Manchester City on Sunday.
The Reds suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss away to West Bromwich Albion in their opening game of the season, while City grabbed a 3-2 win at home to newly promoted Southampton.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers rested several big names for Thursday’s Europa League playoff first-leg win over Hearts, with Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, Martin Skrtel and Glen Johnson missing the trip to Edinburgh.
The quartet are expected to return for the City showdown as the Reds aim to bounce back from the worst start in their Premier League history.
Andy Carroll and Joe Cole, however, are likely absentees for Liverpool with hamstring complaints, while the suspended Daniel Agger will watch from the sidelines.
City will be without last season’s top scorer Sergio Aguero, who is facing a month on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Italy international Mario Balotelli is expected to replace the Argentinean and partner Carlos Tevez up front as City search for their first win at Anfield since May 2003.
Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam said the 1-0 win at Hearts was a perfectly timed boost for the Reds.
“We bounced back from losing the game at the weekend, which everyone was disappointed with,” Adam said.
“The champions are coming to Anfield but they know they will be in as hard a game against us, as we know that we are going to have against them.”