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10 things to look forward to as the Premier League returns

Howard and Guzan

After the international break robbed us of the Premier League for nearly two weeks, don’t worry, it’s back!

Week eight of the PL kicks off on Saturday and below are 10 things to look forward from England’s top-flight. [RELATED: PL highlights | Stream live via Live Extra |Full match replays]

Remember, you can watch channels across the NBC Sports Group for our feature games and watch every single second of every single game live this season online via NBC Sports Live Extra and the NBC Sports Live Extra App. Via your TV you can watch the games live on Premier League Extra Time.

Here we go...

Guzan or Howard? Watch USMNT ‘keepers square off

USA! USA! USA! Nothing like a good old fashioned USMNT goalkeeper on goalkeeper battle, is there? Watch the video above to see myself, Mike Prindiville and Jenna Corrado discuss if Tim Howard or Brad Guzan is better. Well... who you got? Anyway, Everton host Aston Villa at Goodison Park with both teams without a win in three and while Howard is taking a year out from USMNT action, he’s had a bit of a stinker this far this season with Everton conceding 16 goals in seven games, the worst defense in the PL. Guzan is now the USA’s new no. 1 but will that still be the case next September when Howard returns from a self-imposed sabbatical? On Saturday they lock horns and we’ll get an up close look at who the better ‘keeper is.

Will City maul Spurs, again?!

Everything kicks off on Saturday morning at the Etihad, as Man City welcome Tottenham (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN) for what they hope will be another mauling. The Citizens have failed to click into gear this season but are sitting in second place and look solid, yet unspectacular. Against Spurs last season they won 6-0 and 5-1 and tore the heart out of the North Londoners. Mauricio Pochettino has come in and made Spurs a solid outfit, who looked back to their best vs. Southampton before the break. Will Spurs get their revenge of will City’s potent strikeforce give Hugo Lloris a bad back once again?

Chelsea FC v FC Schalke 04 - UEFA Champions League

Costa to miss out vs. Palace?

Getty Images

Can Manchester United keep their roll going?

This is an intriguing question. Not so much of a roll, albeit it a subtle canter in the right direction. You felt that United’s 2-1 win over Everton before the break was a huge momentum builder but how many times have we said that over the past 12 months? One fine victory needs to be followed by another, and a trip to West Brom is a tricky affair for Louis van Gaal to negotiate. With Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao slotting in nicely, the Red Devils will look to smother the Baggies defense. Goals, goals, goals is the answer, as United aim to stay in the top four with a win.

Upset central: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool face tricky tests

Last season Chelsea lost away at Crystal Palace 1-0, and they face the Eagles in a London derby on Saturday. It can’t happen again, can it? Arsenal host Hull with a depleted back line (more on that shortly...) and Liverpool head to QPR with question marks over Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, to face a Rangers side battling for their lives. That’s why I’m pressing the buzzer for these three matches: UPSET ALERT!

Hull can rip apart Arsenal’s makeshift defense

More on that Arsenal defense. Calum Chambers is suspended, while Laurent Koscielny and Matheiu Debuchy are out injured. That means poor old Nacho Monreal has to switch from left back to center back for the first time in his career. This could go very badly for the Gunners, as Arsene Wenger admitted earlier this week that he should have bought more defenders in the summer. Uh, yup, you should have. With Abel Hernandez in fine form since signing on Deadline Day, Hull have scored two goals in each of their last four games since Steve Bruce’s shrewd business and look very handy going forward. They may rip up Arsenal’s patched-up back four at the Emirates.

koeman, pelle

Will the curse strike Koeman, Pelle and Saints? Source: Southampton FC

Can Chelsea cope without Diego Costa at Palace?

Jose Mourinho confirmed that Diego Costa is struggling to be fit for Chelsea’s trip to Palace on Saturday. *Changing PL fantasy team.* Costa has scored nine goals in his first seven PL games and has been a revelation since arriving at Stamford Bridge from Atletico Madrid this summer. Can Loic Remy and/or Didier Drogba fill Costa’s void if he’s missing? Chelsea could struggle. They have so many great attacking talents, but that predator in a round the box was missing last season when they lost to the Eagles and it could be missing again this Saturday at Selhurst. Remy’s big chance to shine in Costa’s absence?

Will the monthly award voodoo strike Southampton?

Saints picked up both monthly awards for September from the Premier League, as Ronald Koeman was named Manager of the Month and Graziano Pelle was named Player of the Month. Usually that means one thing: an almighty downward spiral. So many times managers and players get these awards and suddenly they’re struck with a curse. Southampton are third in the table and will fancy all three points at home to Sunderland. Will Italian international Pelle (who scored his first goal for the Azzurri on his debut last Monday) be the game-winner for Koeman’s men once again?

This is it: Newcastle, Burnley might win this weekend...

Seven games in and fans of both Newcastle and Burnley are salivating. “This is it lads... we might win this weekend!” With Newcastle suffering a horrendous start to the campaign and newly promoted Burnley (Read Joe Posnanski’s amazing longform piece for SportsWorld on the Clarets) just hanging on in games after going over six matches without scoring, supporters of both teams have been struggling. However battling 2-2 draws before the break were cause for optimism and Newcastle host newly-promoted Leicester, while Burnley welcome West Ham to Turf Moor. Great chance to get that first ‘W’ this week.


Sterling to play or be rested vs. QPR?

Will Liverpool rest Raheem Sterling? Plus Daniel Sturridge’s return delayed

Over the international break little Raheem Sterling was at the center of plenty of controversy. After telling England manager Roy Hodgson he was “too tired” to play for the Three Lions vs. Estonia, fingers were pointed at Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool who were still smarting from losing Sturridge to injury while on international duty last month. Liverpool deny telling Sterling what to do, but the teenage winger was under plenty of scrutiny for speaking out about his tiredness. It will be interesting to see if Sterling starts against his old club QPR for Liverpool on Sunday at Loftus Road or is rested. He may start, as Sturridge’s return has been delayed by another three to four weeks after another injury. Boy, do they miss him.

Harry Redknapp on the chopping block

Defiant. Sassy. Bullish. Redknapp was all three of those things in his pre-match press conference on Friday when asked if he worried about losing his job.Newly-promoted QPR have lost five of their first seven games and are bottom of the standings after shipping 15 goals. All is not well. If QPR get a hiding at home to Liverpool on Sunday, many feel ruthless R’s owner Tony Fernandes will fire Redknapp. After the first seven games of the season, QPR look out of their depth. Redknapp needs a win on Sunday or it could be ‘adios.’

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