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Deadline passed, no excuses now

ESPN staff
August 31, 2012
Manchester City will hope for a more routine victory over QPR than on the final day of last season © Getty Images

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The summer transfer window has shut, and every Premier League manager knows which set of players he will have to work with through to January. No longer can excuses by made of "needing to get one or two in", the time has come to deliver.

For champions Manchester City, an early reminder of the greatest moment in the club's history as QPR return to the ground where they won an Oscar for Best Supporting Role last season. Meanwhile, fellow Manchester rivals United wait until Sunday to visit winless Southampton.

Liverpool and Arsenal collide with both clubs already desperate for a first win of the campaign, while Andy Carroll kicks off life at West Ham against Fulham. Preview all ten fixtures here, including talking points and predictions.


Manchester City v QPR - LIVE ON ESPN

Key battle: Manchester City have taken four points from a possible six so far this season, but it would be fair to say only a handful of players have taken up the baton from the opening whistle. Certainly Yaya Toure is one of those, and with David Silva out-of-sorts against Southampton and benched at Liverpool, Toure will be relied upon for his adopted creative instincts, so Samba Diakite might be asked to perform with more discipline than he is used to by Rangers.
Player to watch: Esteban Granero. Signed from Real Madrid, Granero is good enough to feature in most starting XIs in the Premier League. Will he instantly stamp his class on QPR, or will his debut in English football pass him by?
Talking point: Have Manchester City done enough in the transfer window? They beat Manchester United to the title on goal difference last season, but the Red Devils have since added notable names in Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa. What have City to compare?
Bet of the day: City have conceded two goals per game so far this season. What about a cheeky £5 on a repeat of the 3-2 classic enjoyed at the end of the last campaign? That's 20/1 with bet365
Prediction: 3-2

West Ham v Fulham

Key battle: Only one place to look for the key battle at Upton Park, with Andy Carroll surely thrown directly into his West Ham debut on home soil. The £35 million man, loaned from Liverpool, should be dangerous when he has a point to prove, and Sam Allardyce is the perfect set-piece master to get the best out of him. Brede Hangeland must be counting the number of black cats that have crossed his path in recent days.
Player to watch: You would think it would be that man Carroll, but Kevin Nolan may prove an exciting spin-off of this East End drama. A good friend of Carroll from their Newcastle days, he should benefit from the extra attention given to the England forward by the Fulham defence.
Talking point: If Carroll fires 20 goals to keep West Ham in the Premier League this season, what will his value be at the end of the season when he could return to Liverpool?
Bet of the day: Very simple, Carroll to score first. You just know it will happen if you don't bet on it at 6/1 with bet365
Prediction: 2-1

Swansea v Sunderland

Key battle: A free-flowing game of football is on the cards at The Liberty Stadium, and two chief figures on the afternoon's entertainment could occupy a very similar part of the field. Leon Britton, robbed of midfield partner Joe Allen, continues to stroke the ball around in unruffled fashion at the base of the Swansea engine room, where he is likely to meet Stephane Sessegnon. The Sunderland man is also a lovely ball player but has a bit of pace in his arsenal too, so will Britton's mastery usurp Sessegnon's trickery?
Player to watch: Much like Andy Carroll, Adam Johnson has a point to prove having left the Premier League champions for Sunderland. A shock move, given that the likes of Liverpool and Tottenham were linked to the winger, but Johnson is a North East lad and could revel now he's with the Wearsiders.
Talking point: Martin O'Neill appears to be forming the nucleus of a strong team once again. Could Sunderland - as Newcastle managed last season - be the surprise challengers to the top four this year?
Bet of the day: Still so early in the season (Sunderland have only played one league game) defences are likely to be hospitable, so back this one to throw up at least three first-half goals at 8/1 with bet365
Prediction: 2-2

Tottenham have not enjoyed the best of starts under Andre Villas-Boas © PA Photos

Tottenham v Norwich

Key battle: Sebastien Bassong is not long removed from his post at White Hart Lane, and he gets an almost instant chance to renew acquaintances with his old mates as Norwich head to North London. Emmanuel Adebayor will almost certainly lead the line, guaranteeing a physical tussle with Bassong, who conceded a clumsy penalty in the 1-1 draw with QPR.
Player to watch: Moussa Dembele, unless Spurs bring in reinforcements, finds himself tasked with the difficult challenge of filling the boots of Luka Modric in the Spurs midfield. Shorn of the Croatian's vision against West Brom, Andre Villas-Boas' side struggled to a 1-1 draw in front of their disgruntled supporters. Dembele has carved out a reputation for himself in a midfield role at Fulham, and he may surprise one or two if he can take that form to Tottenham.
Talking point: How many games will Villas-Boas be afforded by the Spurs faithful if things continue to go against the Londoners? Brought in as a major gamble to replace the popular Harry Redknapp, there was already a section of the crowd booing at the end of the draw with West Brom.
Bet of the day: Gareth Bale doesn't usually take long to hit the goal trail nowadays, so take him to score first in a 3-0 win for Spurs at 25/1 with bet365
Prediction: 3-0

West Brom v Everton

Key battle: Two of the form sides in the early stages of the Premier League season, West Brom welcome fellow undefeated club Everton to the Hawthorns with both clubs in good spirits. That could all change if things become "tasty" this weekend, with an aerial battle between Jonas Olsson and Marouane Fellaini carrying the potential for a red card. Don't follow the ball in this one.
Player to watch: Steven Pienaar is back, he's at the club that suits him best, and he is playing some magic football. The Baggies will need to be well prepared by Steve Clarke.
Talking point: If you were to pick a Merseyside XI, how many Everton players would be in that team?
Bet of the day: West Brom were awarded two penalties in their first home game of the season against Liverpool, back them to score another against Everton at 8/1 with bet365
Prediction: 1-1

Wigan v Stoke

Key battle: Stoke are built for power rather than pace, so Arouna Kone will be an interesting test of Ryan Shawcross and Co. A goalscorer last time out, Kone is the type of player who can carry an attack by himself when he is on his game.
Player to watch: Peter Crouch was extremely disappointed to have been taken off by Tony Pulis in Stoke's last league outing against Arsenal. Will he be replaced or will he prove a point to his boss at the DW Stadium?
Talking point: With Charlie Adam heading to Stoke, will he recapture his excellent Blackpool form? Often tarred with the "big fish, small pond" brush, Adam has the chance to operate away from the spotlight that comes with being a Liverpool player.
Bet of the day: Make things interesting by backing the own goal at 9/1 with bet365
Prediction: 1-2

Liverpool need their main men to fire © PA Photos


Liverpool v Arsenal

Key battle: Liverpool battered Arsenal in last season's 2-1 defeat, which came courtesy of two Robin van Persie goals. The Gunners do not have Van Persie this time, and at right-back they have the inexperienced figure of Carl Jenkinson. Liverpool will likely use their own youngster, Raheem Sterling, against him in what will be a fascinating duel.
Player to watch: Luis Suarez produced a little bit of everything in Thursday's draw with Hearts, wasting an open goal, hitting the woodwork and finally netting the decisive goal. Expect him to lead a pulsating Liverpool charge.
Talking point: Which ownership strategy would Arsenal fans have preferred over recent years? Their own have refused to spend big, costing themselves big-name players and (potentially) trophies in the process. Liverpool, meanwhile, have wasted fortunes on average players and find themselves having to loan them out to balance the books.
Bet of the day: This game is too important for either side to lose, so back Steven Gerrard to give Liverpool the lead before the Reds get pegged back in a 1-1 draw at 55/1 with bet365
Prediction: 1-1

Newcastle v Aston Villa

Key battle: Charles N'Zogbia is a highlights player, the type you see on Match of the Day and instantly rate on the basis of one 25-yarder that clattered the woodwork. Part of that make-up sees him turn on his best displays against former clubs, so whichever wing he pops up on against Newcastle, Danny Simpson or Davide Santon will have to be wary.
Player to watch: Shay Given. The usually reliable goalkeeper appears to have reached his sell-by date during the space of one summer. Guilty of mistakes at Euro 2012, he has carried that form into the new season and needs to rediscover his best on his old stomping ground.
Talking point: Will Newcastle rue their inability to sign (or total lack of interest in) Andy Carroll? Alan Pardew has kept faith with the Demba duo and will hope that loyalty is repaid.
Bet of the day: This one has got 2-0 to Newcastle written all over it. If you agree, get your money on it at 13/2 with bet365
Prediction: 2-0

Southampton v Manchester United

Key battle: If Southampton are to have a realistic chance of beating Manchester United on Sunday, they will need to play off target man Rickie Lambert. The goal machine changed the game when introduced against Manchester City - a match they eventually lost 3-2 - but with United's defence still shaky his physical presence could cause problems if used correctly against either Michael Carrick or Jonny Evans.
Player to watch: Tom Cleverley. Likely to be outshone by Shinji Kagawa due to the transfer fee paid for the former Dortmund man, but Cleverley is equally as capable of controlling a match. Southampton cannot afford to let United's ball players settle.
Talking point: How much longer will Sir Alex Ferguson give David De Gea if he brings last season's form into this, as threatened by the howler against Fulham?
Bet of the day: United have conceded first in their opening two matches of the season, back them to win from behind at 6/1 with bet365
Prediction: 1-3
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