EPL: Football this weekend in England

::::Champions Manchester City begin their title
defense at home to promoted Southampton
on Sunday (1400) and will hand a late fitness
test to goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Hart missed the Community Shield win over
Chelsea last weekend and then England's
midweek friendly with Italy because of a
back complaint.
Defender Micah Richards, injured on Olympic
duty with Britain, will be out for a month
while manager Roberto Mancini could hand
new signing Jack Rodwell a first start after his
transfer from Everton.
Manchester United fans should get a first
glimpse of new signing Robin Van Persie
alongside Wayne Rooney at Everton on
Monday (1900) in a forward line that will
strike fear into rival defenders.
Last season's Premier League top scorer
completed his move on time from Arsenal on
Friday to be available for the clash at
Goodison Park.
Fellow new arrival Shinji Kagawa could also
feature but Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and
Jonny Evans are still out.
Everton have been boosted by the recovery
from injury of Marouane Fellaini (groin) and
Darron Gibson (thigh).
They have a fully fit squad available with
close-season capture Steven Naismith set for
his debut after joining from Rangers.
Former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas
begins his Tottenham Hotspur reign with a
tricky away trip to Newcastle United at St
James' Park on Saturday (1630) and only one
seasoned striker in the shape of Jermain
Spurs are still hopeful that Emmanuel
Adebayor will join the club from Manchester
City after his successful loan spell last
season but at present inexperienced
youngster Harry Kane is the only back up for
diminutive England striker Defoe.
We are looking for one more striker. You can't
survive with two strikers only, you need three
or four," Villas-Boas told reporters at his pre-
match news conference.
Newcastle have doubts over a number of key
players, including captain Fabricio Coloccini,
Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse, while new
signings Vurnon Anita and Romain Amalfitano
are in contention to start.
"We've got a few guys who aren't at the level
of other players - Ben Arfa being one of
them," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
Arsenal begin life without Van Persie at home
to Sunderland (1400), looking for summer
captures Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud to
fill the void left by the Dutch international
striker's departure to Old Trafford.
Manager Arsene Wenger must do without
defender Laurent Koscielny (calf) and winger
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (ankle) but Theo
Walcott, who pulled out of England's friendly
with Italy in midweek, should be available.
Defenders Phil Bardsley and Wes Brown are
ruled out for Sunderland, meaning new
signing Carlos Cuellar could make his debut.
Manager Martin O'Neill is hoping Benin
international striker Stephane Sessegnon can
shake off an ankle injury while new signing
Louis Saha could go straight into the side.
West Ham United, who beat Blackpool in the
Championship playoff to seal a return to the
top flight, could hand debuts to five signings -
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Stephen Henderson,
Mohamed Diame, Alou Diara and Modibo
Maiga - when they host Aston Villa on
Saturday (1400).
Brendan Rodgers takes charge of Liverpool
for the first time in a competitive fixture
when his side travel to West Bromwich Albion
on Saturday (1400).
Former Swansea boss Rodgers made his third
Anfield signing on Friday when Moroccan
international winger Oussama Assaidi joined
from Dutch side Heerenveen.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo is
considering whether to hand new signing
Oscar a role at Wigan Athletic on Sunday
(1230) after he joined up with the squad
following Olympic duty with Brazil.
"Oscar has only been in the building for a day
and a half, so we will see. I still have to think
about it for Sunday, but there will be plenty of
time to play," Di Matteo told a news
conference on Friday.
* United States international Geoff Cameron,
a summer signing for Stoke City from
Houston Dynamo, is available for the away
clash at Reading on Saturday (1400) after
heading back home to complete his visa.
Defender Robert Huth has made a rapid
recovery from viral meningitis after a five-
day stay in hospital for treatment.
"It's a massive bonus to us that we are even
able to consider him for our opening game
because he's had a big scare for himself and
his family," said Stoke manager Tony Pulis.

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