Published September 13, 2013
LONDON (AFP) – David Moyes will wait until the last minute before deciding if Wayne Rooney can return from his head injury in Manchester United's Premier League clash against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Rooney was forced to miss United's defeat at Liverpool at the end of last month and England's World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine after suffering a nasty head gash in an accidental training ground collision with Phil Jones.
The 27-year-old posted pictures of the cut online to prove his absence was fully justified and United boss Moyes is uncertain if the wound has healed enough to put the forward back in his team.
"He is in great physical shape," Moyes said. "Obviously he has a cut right in the middle of his forehead which could split because the skin is very thin.
"But he has had his stitches out and it has knitted. We just have to see where the level of risk is with his injury."
Meanwhile, Mesut Ozil and Willian could be among the players making their first Premier League appearances this weekend, while Tottenham Hotspur will begin life without Gareth Bale.
No sooner did the transfer window close on September 2 than the international break began, meaning that fans have had to wait close to two weeks for a first glimpse of their clubs' new signings in action.
Arsenal's capture of Ozil from Real Madrid in a club-record ??42.4 million ($66 million, 50 million euros) deal stole the deadline-day headlines, and he is expected to make his debut at Sunderland on Saturday.
The deal made Ozil the most expensive German footballer of all time, but the 24-year-old has played down the significance of his price tag.
"I would have come here without a fee. That would not be a problem," he told reporters after being officially presented as an Arsenal player on Thursday.
"Of course I am proud of this, but the most important thing is that the manager trusts me. That was crucial for me and that is why I came to Arsenal."
The manager, Arsene Wenger, says there is a "possibility" that Ozil will start at the Stadium of Light, where Arsenal will be bidding to record a fifth consecutive win in all competitions.
Their last league outing saw them prevail 1-0 against north London rivals Tottenham, who host Norwich City on Saturday in the first game since Welsh forward Bale completed his move to Madrid for a reported world-record fee of around ??86 million.
Spurs offset Bale's departure by spending around ??110 million on new players and could hand a debut to Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen against Norwich.
With the Bale saga finally at an end, coach Andre Villas-Boas has urged his players to refocus quickly.
"What we have to do is move on," he said during Thursday's pre-game press conference.
On Eriksen, he added: "I think what happened with Christian is a bit like that happened with Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart when they were at Ajax.
"We expect great things of Christian Eriksen and we want to develop him into becoming that sort of important player for us as well."
United's 1-0 loss to Liverpool before the international break left them five points behind their bitter rivals, who top the standings ahead of Monday's visit to manager Brendan Rodgers' former club Swansea City.
With Liverpool not in action over the weekend, second-place Chelsea can claim top spot in the nascent standings if they prevail at Everton on Saturday.
Manager Jose Mourinho will have Willian and Samuel Eto'o at his disposal for the first time since their moves from Anzhi Makhachkala.
Manchester City, who have won two and lost one of their opening three matches, face a reunion with former manager Mark Hughes when they travel to Stoke City.
Saturday (1400GMT unless otherwise stated)
Manchester United v Crystal Palace (1145GMT), Aston Villa v Newcastle United, Fulham v West Bromwich Albion, Hull City v Cardiff City, Stoke City v Manchester City, Sunderland v Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City, Everton v Chelsea (1630GMT)
Southampton v West Ham United
Swansea City v Liverpool