The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
5 things to know about the Premier League with Chelsea-Man United the standout fixture
LONDON - So much for the Manchester United crisis.
A couple of domestic cup losses after an English Premier League setback produced waves of critical comments about David Moyes' suitability to manage United.
The reality about the "crisis," though, is that last weekend's success over Swansea was United's fifth win in six league games, leaving the team just five points from the fourth Champions League place.
The Red Devils have a chance to prove their critics wrong — or show that they really are falling behind their rivals — when they visit Chelsea on Sunday.
Here are five things to know about this weekend's Premier League games:
MOURINHO VS. MOYES: The season's first meeting between Jose Mourinho's Chelsea and United proved to be a letdown as the sides drew 0-0 in August. A repeat result would be considered an achievement for Moyes, given that Chelsea is unbeaten at home in the league across Mourinho's two reigns. While Moyes claims he will not make much-needed reinforcements to the squad in the January transfer window, Mourinho has acted swiftly to strengthen his third-place team, with the return of a familiar face.
Serbia midfielder Nemanja Matic has rejoined Chelsea from Benfica this week for 25 million euros ($34 million) three years after being offloaded by the London club. "He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder," Mourinho said. "I am sure he will become a very important member of the squad and help us to achieve our ambitions."
CITY CENTURIONS: Manchester City has knocked in 99 goals in all competitions this season, and next to feel the force of the formidable strike force on Saturday is Cardiff, which is in the relegation zone as it heads to the Etihad. City is only a point behind leader Arsenal having won all 10 home games, and Sergio Aguero is back from injury. The Argentina striker marked his comeback with a goal in a 5-0 rout of Blackburn in the FA Cup on Wednesday. "Maybe in a week I'll be on top form," he said. "Obviously the more you play the better you feel."
ARSENAL'S AILMENTS: There's a London derby for the leader on Saturday as Arsenal hosts struggling Fulham. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, though, has injury concerns aside from long-term absentee Theo Walcott. Defender Nacho Monreal is a major doubt after twisting a foot ligament, while captain Thomas Vermaelen (knee), and midfielders Mikel Arteta (calf) and Aaron Ramsey (thigh) are also sidelined. But Wenger still feels his squad has enough strength in depth, with defender Kieran Gibbs, midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski back from injury recently. "In midfield we have plenty of quality players who you can rotate easily without really feeling, 'Today we are weaker,'" Wenger said. "We have fantastic players in midfield and it always allows us to keep what we call the 'engine' of the team fresh."
SAINTS UNCERTAINTY: Earlier in the season, Southampton was being touted to upset the elite by gatecrashing the top four. The stay around the top didn't last long, and the south-coast club is in ninth place and mired in uncertainty after the exit this week of executive chairman Nicola Cortese. Talk of Mauricio Pochettino following Cortese out of St. Marys proved wide of the mark when the manager committed his future to the club — until the end of the season at least. "I am fully committed to the staff, the players, the club and it would make no sense to leave in the middle of our path," Pochettino said on Thursday. Pochettino will be hoping the boardroom uncertainty doesn't lead to the key talent, including defender Luke Shaw and striker Rickie Lambert, leaving. "No player that I don't want to leave will leave this club," Pochettino said.
UNDER PRESSURE: Could Chris Hughton be the next manager out of a Premier League club? Norwich exited the FA Cup at Fulham on Tuesday, while sitting just two points above the Premier League relegation zone after six games without a win. But is it really so bad for the east England club?"In a league that is very tight around we know we're only three points away from 10th place," Hughton pointed out.
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