Mancunian Matters preview this weekend’s Premier and Football League action as both Manchester clubs face West London clubs on Sunday, with United hosting Chelsea in what will no doubt be a massive coming together of two of the league's heavyweights.
City travel to Fulham with their Champions League debut clash against Napoli – which ended in a draw – still fresh in the memory while Bolton host newly-promoted Norwich City as they look to bounce back from last week’s 5-0 thrashing by United and Wigan travel to Merseyside giants Everton.
In League One, Rochdale host leaders Charlton Athletic, Bury travel to Hartlepool and Oldham travel to the East End to face Leyton Orient. Stockport County – whose future was plunged back into danger this week – host fellow former league side Grimsby Town in the Blue Square Premier.
Manchester United v Chelsea
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to reinstate new Spanish keeper David de Gea in goal despite Anders Lindegaard’s fine performance at Benfica in the Champions League in midweek.
Danny Welbeck is back in training but it’s thought Ferguson will not take risks with the young forward. Tom Cleverly will definitely miss out after he broke a metatarsal bone following a Kevin Davies tackle and Nemanja Vidic will also miss out.
Ferguson also confirmed that United picked up no new injuries in the 1-1 draw in Lisbon in midweek where Ryan Giggs made a superb return to goalscoring form.
He believes that Chelsea – who have made a slow start under new boss Andre Villas-Boas – will be in the reckoning come the end of the season and should still be considered a threat.
He said: “It will be a fantastic game.”
“The games with Chelsea over the last seven years have been very close affairs. There's usually only one goal in it and I think it will be tight again on Sunday.
“They're a team with great experience and they'll pose a challenge to us. Chelsea will be there at the end of the season. There's no doubt about that.”
Fulham v Manchester City
Roberto Mancini’s men will travel to Craven Cottage after both sides were in European action in midweek. The Italian will be looking for his side to regain their Premier League form after a disappointing draw in their debut Champions League match.
City will still be without new signing Owen Hargreaves as he makes a painstaking return to fitness while Dutch international Nigel de Jong is also missing.
Former skipper Carlos Tevez could drop to the bench after starting last week’s 3-0 win over Wigan.
The Argentine was a second-half sub against Napoli with goalscoring duo Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzecko restored to the starting line-up.
Midfielder Gareth Barry – whose error led to Napoli opening their own Champions League account – believes that City fans should get used to teams closing off their space and picking them off on the counter.
He said: “The fans and a lot of people expected us to go out there and roll over Napoli – it was never going to be like that.
“The manager sends out a lot of attacking players and now and again you can get picked off on the break.
“We’re going to have to adapt very quickly to the Champions League.”
Bolton v Norwich City
Owen Coyle will be looking to lift his team after their morale-destroying 5-0 defeat at home to Manchester United last weekend as they take on Paul Lambert’s Canaries.
The Trotters will have Tuncay, Gael Kakuta and David N’Gog pushing for starts but it will be too soon for American midfielder Stuart Holden who came through a reserve game in midweek.
Coyle said: “Stuart played 90 minutes in the reserve match against Arsenal, did very well and there is no doubt that day by day he is improving.
“What we have to make sure of is that when we bring him back in it's the right time and not detrimental.
“So is Saturday too soon for him to start?
“Probably so, but having said that if he continues the way he has done then I certainly would be hopeful of starting him on Tuesday in the Carling Cup at Aston Villa.”
Everton v Wigan
Wigan travel to Goodison Park on the back of a 3-0 surrender to Manchester City to play an Everton side buoyed by the performance in their 2-2 draw with Aston Villa.
Roberto Martinez’s men had made a great start to the season, remaining unbeaten in their three games and will be looking at getting back on form against the Toffees.
Steve Gohuri could be included in the squad for the first time this season after he started first team training this week while defender Emmerson Boyce is doubtful.
Martinez – whose side crashed out of the Carling Cup to Crystal Palace in midweek – is looking to new signing Shaun Maloney to provide some spark.
“I believe he has fantastic individual talent in one-on-one situations and technically very gifted,” he said.
“And I feel probably the best two or three years in terms of using his experience are in front of him.”
Rochdale v Charlton Athletic
Rochdale boss Steve Eyre will be looking for his side to make it a week to remember and record their third successive win against league leaders Charlton.
The Dale followed last week’s superb 4-2 win at Bury with a deserved 1-0 victory at Spotland against relegated Scunthorpe.
Eyre hopes to make Charlton his biggest scalp so far in an eagerly awaited contest, but he may have to do without David Ball – who has scored two goals in three games – as the on-loan Peterborough man has a virus.
Eyre said: “Charlton are a massive club with a huge fanbase and it’s a game I want to be involved in.
“We’re going to be underdogs against the title favourites and I think they’ll win it but we’re home and we’re up for it.
“We’ve got footballers all through the team and they can all play. We need to carry on like that.”
Hartlepool v Bury
Bury manager Richie Barker will be looking to arrest an alarming run of defeats tomorrow as they travel to the north east coast to take on Hartlepool.
The Shakers have lost four consecutive games in League One, including a demoralising 4-2 home defeat against neighbours Rochdale two weeks ago.
A trip to Victoria Park is not what Barker’s team need at the moment – Hartlepool have started the season well and are unbeaten at home.
Despite losing high profile players such as Ryan Lowe and Damien Mozika, influential in winning promotion from League Two last season, Barker is adamant that he needs to rally the troops.
Speaking to the club’s official website he said: “I can’t whinge about it, I’ve just got to get on with it.”
Barker has allowed midfielder Andy Howarth join Blue Square Premier team Oxford United on an initial month long loan. He has failed to make a start in the League this season so far.
Leyton Orient v Oldham Athletic
Paul Dickov will be looking to stretch his side’s unbeaten run to four games as they travel to London to take on rock bottom Orient.
Buoyed by a 1-0 victory over Walsall on Tuesday night, Dickov’s men have to be favourites to beat the Londoners, who are still winless after eight games and have a 100% home loss record.
However, Dickov has warned his players against being complacent.
He said: “We won’t underestimate them as they took four points off us last season, and if there is a warning sign that ought to be it.”
Oldham go in to this weekend’s games as the highest placed Greater Manchester team in the league table, a position that defies grim predictions of a relegation battle by many bookmakers.
Dickov will welcome back defender Zander Diamond former Chelsea trainee Filipe Morais, having named both in tomorrow’s squad following knee injuries.
Striker Shefki Kuqi will be looking to add to his two goals in three appearances after joining on a free at the end of the transfer window.
Stockport County v Grimsby Town
County will look to make the headlines on the pitch tomorrow against Grimsby.
Fans endured another draw last weekend at AFC Telford (their sixth in eight games), and County will look to add a second victory of the season against former Football League foes Grimsby.
County will be without injured midfield duo Jon Routledge and Ryan Fraughan, whilst being wary of former Hatter Anthony Elding, who joined The Mariners on a free over the summer.