Premier League: Key battles on Saturday

Sports Mole looks at three key battles in Saturday's Premier League clashes.

With the Premier League table beginning to take shape, there have already been some surprising performances from players up and down the country as well as typical ones. Ahead of another Saturday full of intriguing clashes, Sports Mole looks at some of the key battles that will take place on Saturday.

1. Sandro vs. Oscar

The Tottenham Hotspur defensive midfielder claimed on Thursday that he and his teammates were motivated to avenge last season's home defeat to Chelsea. A motivated Sandro is a fearsome prospect for any opponent, even an in-form Oscar. It is not yet known whether Sandro will even start or whether Andre Villas-Boas will choose Moussa Dembele alongside Sandro.

Sandro will be the best bet to keep Oscar, who scored Chelsea's opener last weekend against Fulham, quiet. The Brazilian is tough in the tackle and has a fine range of passing too, making him the ideal player to sit deep and try to stop his compatriot's form.

Sandro of Tottenham Hotspur in action during the UEFA Europa League Play-Offs, second leg match between Tottenham Hotspur and FC Dinamo Tbilisi at White Hart Lane on August 29, 2013© Getty Images

Should Oscar get joy against whomever AVB selects in midfield then Chelsea will be very tough to beat indeed. The Brazilian is preferred to Juan Mata by Jose Mourinho and up to now has justified this with a string of fine performances. Sandro, however, will be a huge test for him.

2. Rooney vs. McAuley

The transformation for Wayne Rooney this season has been remarkable. The talk over the summer was of whether Manchester United were going to sell him and for how much, but he has become a key player for them at the start of this season. With Robin van Persie possibly still missing through injury he has an important role to play against a resurgent West Bromwich Albion side.

When played as the lone striker, Rooney is a difficult man to mark. He will not be much of a threat in the air, but will drift into space to draw the centre-backs out and allow the wide players space to roam. Gareth McAuley is a tall man, but has historically not done so well against mobile attackers, which means it will be an important area of the pitch for the visitors.

With a hard-to-mark Rooney in front of an Old Trafford crowd who want to forget about the drubbing against Manchester City last time around, he could be the matchwinner on Saturday.

Man United striker Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring his second goal against Bayer Leverkusen on September 17, 2013© Getty Images

3. Giroud vs. Vorm

After an opening-day defeat to Aston Villa it was all doom and gloom at the Emirates with a long, hard season ahead. However, with Mesut Ozil having arrived on deadline day and a sudden upturn on the pitch has seen the Gunners become the form team of the Premier League. Key to this has been Olivier Giroud, who has baffled defences already to the tune of four league goals already this season.

In Michel Vorm, Swansea have a very good goalkeeper who specialises in shot-stopping. Although Swansea are good in attack, they will need Vorm to be at his best if Giroud is to be kept quiet, as the Frenchman will likely get a number of chances with his intelligent movement.

Of course, former Cardiff City player Aaron Ramsey will likely be even more motivated for this clash, so if Swansea are to take anything from it Vorm must make himself big to a few of the Welshman's early through-balls in the direction of Giroud. If he does, it could be a good day in Wales.

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal against Sunderland on September 14, 2013© Getty Images

Arsenal's Olivier Giroud celebrates with team mates after scoring the opening goal against Sunderland on September 14, 2013
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City24212170185265
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd24165349163353
3Chelsea24155445162950
4Liverpool23138254282647
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs23135546212544
6Arsenal24126645311442
7Leicester CityLeicester249783632434
8Burnley249781921-234
9Everton2477102639-1328
10Watford2475123344-1126
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham2468103042-1226
12Bournemouth2467112536-1125
13Crystal Palace2467112237-1525
14Huddersfield TownHuddersfield2466121941-2224
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2465132234-1223
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2458111733-1623
17Stoke CityStoke2465132550-2523
18Southampton2349102334-1121
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom24311101931-1220
20Swansea CitySwansea2345141435-2117
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