Fading Man United plot swift Swansea payback
Manchester United will look for immediate revenge against Swansea City on Saturday, a week after the Welsh club pulled off a shock victory at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.
Having lost to Tottenham Hotspur, in the league, and Sunderland, in the League Cup, either side of last Sunday's defeat by Swansea, United have lost their first three games of the year for the first time since 1932.
The New Year's Day defeat by Spurs left David Moyes's side 11 points behind leaders Arsenal in the Premier League and striker Danny Welbeck has admitted that the defending champions face a struggle even to finish in the top four.
"Being a Manchester lad and being a United fan, there is extra passion inside me and it does hurt me when I see the team losing. It hurts a lot to see United not winning," Welbeck said.
"I can understand why fans are concerned. We are not around the Champions League spots at the moment. We need to get our form back and just win the next matches.
"It was very disappointing to go out of the FA Cup against Swansea and we have to rectify that at Old Trafford on Saturday."
With leaders Arsenal not in action until Monday, when they visit Aston Villa, third-placed Chelsea can take over at the top of the standings by winning at Hull City in Saturday's early fixture.
Last season's Europa League winners have yet to capture the imagination in this campaign, but midfielder John Mikel Obi believes that manager Jose Mourinho's exacting methods are beginning to bear fruit.
"He always wants us to play in a certain way and give 110 percent," Mikel said. "If you don't, you're out.
"You can see by the way we press up the pitch. That is important for the team and we're doing well."
This weekend's games are the reverse fixtures from the season's first round of matches.
While Arsenal's 3-1 capitulation at home to Villa on the opening day seems a long time ago, Manchester City continue to look every bit as impressive as they did in their 4-0 victory over Newcastle United on August 19.
Manuel Pellegrini's side continued their astonishing home form by destroying West Ham United 6-0 in the League Cup on Wednesday and they will also have designs on leapfrogging Arsenal when they visit Newcastle on Sunday.
City have now scored 92 goals in all competitions, just one less than they managed in the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign, but midfielder Javi Garcia says that they must keep their feet on the ground.
"I think this season we can win a lot of trophies, but we have to keep working like this," he said.
"The most important thing for us is that the players keep working, because we have so many games. This is the way we have to keep going."
West Ham have conceded 11 goals in two games, having previously lost 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, and find themselves second from bottom in the league table ahead of Saturday's trip to Cardiff City.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be taking charge of his first home game as Cardiff manager, after masterminding a 2-1 win at Newcastle in the FA Cup last weekend in his first match at the helm.
Buoyed by the mid-week success over Manchester United in their League Cup semi-final first leg, bottom club Sunderland will hope to bridge the four-point gap that separates them from safety when they visit fifth-bottom Fulham on Saturday.
Third-bottom Crystal Palace, meanwhile, face Tottenham, who have climbed to sixth on the back of a four-game unbeaten run under rookie manager Tim Sherwood.
"Tim's got the potential to go on and be a top manager, without a question of a doubt," said Palace manager Tony Pulis.
"He's very lucky to get a club like Tottenham as his first job and I'm sure he'll be determined to make a good fist of it. Fingers crossed he does it -- as long as we beat them on Saturday."
Another club with a new boss are West Bromwich Albion, who have appointed Spaniard Pepe Mel as head coach, although caretaker Keith Downing will remain in charge for Saturday's trip to Southampton.
Saturday (1500 GMT unless otherwise stated):
Cardiff City v West Ham United, Everton v Norwich City, Fulham v Sunderland, Hull City v Chelsea (1245 GMT), Manchester United v Swansea City (1730 GMT), Southampton v West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace
Newcastle United v Manchester City (1405 GMT), Stoke City v Liverpool (1610 GMT)
Monday (2000 GMT):
Aston Villa v Arsenal