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Friday, August 12, 2011

Premier League Match Previews: Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United

The Premier League returns this weekend, much to the relief of football fans who've awaited it since the end of last season, and whose nerves were rattled with the possibility of postponements due to the London riots. Thankfully nine of the ten fixtures have made it through with only Spurs vs Everton being called off. Here is a quick glance at a few of the fixtures.

Reigning champions Manchester United start the defence of their title against Roy Hodgson's West Brom, having added De Gea, Jones and Young to their ranks over the summer. With no sign of a central midfielder joining before the window closes, all eyes will be on Tom Cleverley who has impressed in pre-season and in previous loan spells. West Brom completed the signing of Ireland striker Shane Long this week, the midlands club hoping he can bring goals to the club who relied heavily on Peter Odemwingie to score last season. Odemwingie is a doubt for the match.

Arsenal travel to Newcastle, hoping a repeat of last season's dramatic turnaround isn't on the cards again. The Gunners look to be losing Fabregas and Nasri, but still have a talented squad with Aaron Ramsey looking close to regaining his pre-injury form. Newcastle have lost Luis Enrique to Liverpool and Kevin Nolan to West Ham, and have spent the past couple of weeks in a war of words with temperamental midfielder Joey Barton. They have however signed striker Demba Ba who performed well on loan at West Ham last season and will add the goals the team were sorely missing.

The new Chelsea under Andre Villas-Boas travel north to take on a Stoke side which some believe has done the shrewdest business in the transfer window. Tony Pulis has added defenders Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson to the club, both moving without a fee. They also have interest in signing Tottenham's Wilson Palacios and Peter Crouch to further bolster their squad. Chelsea are again without Michael Essien who injured his knee in training, which may give opportunity to highly rated youngster Josh McEachran. Up front, the London club have doubts over Fernando Torres, who is struggling with concussion but they can still pick from Drogba and Anelka. Daniel Sturridge who impressed on loan at Bolton for the latter part of last season is suspended and Romelu Lukaku hasn't completed his transfer in time to play.

Written by Alex Noonan

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