Stoke-on-Trent has been rejuvenated since the Potters returned to the Premier League and their matches against Arsenal at the Britannia Stadium are always feisty affairs, with Arsene Wenger likely to get it in the neck from the home supporters.
Meanwhile, Liverpool play their first home match in the league and they don’t come much tougher than a Manchester City side looking to defend their title this season. Sergio Aguero might be out at the moment but the visitors will pose a serious threat.
Stoke City v Arsenal 1.30pm
Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski should prepare themselves for a rude awakening on Sunday when their new team play somewhere that has not been a happy hunting ground since Stoke were promoted.
The Gunners have won at the Brit just once in the past four seasons although Arsene Wenger will hope that their team can withstand the physical threat of their opposite number and convert some of the chances that fall their way, something they were unable to do last weekend.
Arsenal are a best price 5/4 (BetVictor free bets) to claim victory although the visitors’ defence will come under stern scrutiny, especially with Michael Kightly and Matthew Etherington feeding the ball through to Crouch and Walters.
Stoke were an inch away from triumphing at the Madejski Stadum last Saturday and remain hopeful of signing Michael Owen who might well be in attendance at this match to experience the full power of the Britannia. The Potters do look an interesting bet at 5/2.
Tony Pulis is unlikely to make many chances to the team that drew 1-1 with Reading, although Dean Whitehead is suspended following his red card against the Royals and the temptation might be too great when it comes to fielding long-throw merchant Rory Delap.
Perhaps the safest bet is on the draw at 12/5 considering that was the way that the game finished last season. Stoke have a strong record against the top clubs in the Premier League when they play them at home and Peter Crouch is 8/1 to score first.
Liverpool v Manchester City, 4.00pm
A lot has been written about Liverpool since the season started and most of it has been pretty damning of Brendan Rodgers’ team although that can change in the space of ninety minutes on Sunday.
The bottom line is that the Reds didn’t deserve to lose 3-0 at West Brom last weekend and perhaps they will be fired up to produce a memorable performance against the champions of England, a moniker which must seem a million miles away for fans of Liverpool.
Rodgers has not gone crazy on the spending front this summer, partly because of the restrictions placed on him by the club’s owners but partly because he believes there is a lot of potential in the squad inherited from Kenny Dalglish.
Liverpool are a 21/10 chance (Stan James free bets) to claim victory against a City team that will be without Sergio Aguero and they are also looking defensively vulnerable after shipping two goals against Chelsea in the Community Shield before doing the same against Southampton.
Even so, Roberto Mancini can call upon quality strikers in the absence of Ageuro and Mario Balotelli might be risked at Anfield, despite receiving a red card at the same ground last season.
City are a 6/4 poke to claim three points and it will be interesting to see whether the manager adopts the 3-5-2 formation that was experimented with during the summer or play a more conventional 4-4-2.
Carlos Tevez is now the main striker in the absence of his compatriot and is also the 6/1 favourite to score the first goal of this game, although Luis Suarez will feel it’s time to start making the headlines for the right reason and he can be backed at the same odds.