London: Sergio Aguero is set to return up front for Manchester City against Arsenal on Sunday as Roberto Mancini’s side aim to shrug off the midweek Champions League defeat by Real Madrid.
Midfielder Samir Nasri will miss the trip to his former club, however, after suffering a hamstring injury against Real.
“Sergio is fit,” Mancini told a news conference on Friday. “I wanted to put him on in the Bernabeu but we had a couple of injuries.”
The visit of in-form Arsenal will be a stern test for City who have started the defence of their title in steady, if unspectacular, fashion.
“I think Arsenal can compete for the title this year,” Mancini said. “I don’t know if they’re better than last year but they have less pressure. They lost two or three important players but they will play for the title.”
Chelsea, though, experienced a midweek Champions League result similar to City’s in throwing away a 2-0 lead to open their title defence with a 2-2 draw against Juventus.
It’s exposed the difficulties of trying to entertain more on the pitch while retaining the resilience that helped Chelsea win the European Cup for the first time in May.
“We are playing differently this year, with more emphasis on attacking, but everyone also has to be focused on defending and being organised,” defender Branislav Ivanovic said ahead of Saturday’s match against Stoke. Chelsea’s match is the headline fixture on Saturday before the more glamorous matchups on Sunday.
Manchester United resume their fierce rivalry with Liverpool with a trip to Anfield.
Saturday: Swansea City vs
Everton; Chelsea vs Stoke City; Southampton vs Aston Villa; West Bromwich Albion vs Reading; West Ham United vs Sunderland; Wigan Athletic vs Fulham
Sunday: Liverpool vs Manchester United; Newcastle United vs
Norwich City; Manchester City vs Arsenal; Tottenham Hotspur vs Queens Park Rangers