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Premiership weekend preview

last updated Friday 26th February 2010, 8:33 PM


Fulham travel up to Sunderland on Sunday after their victorious efforts in the Europa League on Thursday while Chelsea lock horns with Manchester City on Saturday lunchtime with all eyes on John Terry's meeting with Wayne Bridge.

Elsewhere this weekend, Arsenal make the trip to the Britannia Stadium, struggling clubs Burnley and Portsmouth face one another, Everton will aim to continue their fine form at Tottenham Hotspur while Liverpool host Blackburn Rovers.

Chelsea v Manchester City
will see former England captain John Terry goes head-to-head with left-back Wayne Bridge for the first time since the well-documented off-the-field issues involving the duo. Indeed, on Thursday, Bridge withdrew himself from England selection ,such is the effect of the fallout of those recent revelations.The clash also sees the added sub-plot of Carlo Ancelotti renewing his rivalry with Roberto Mancini. Ancelotti, the former manager of AC Milan, regularly used to do battle with Mancini while the latter was in charge of Inter. Now the duo meet in the Premier League for the first time. In December, prior to Mark Hughes' sacking, City overcame Chelsea, but their task is tougher this time around, with the club recently struggling to impress under Mancini while also facing a team that have not lost at Stamford Bridge in 37 games in all competitions and aiming to restore their four-point lead a the top. Still, at least Argentina international Carlos Tevez should be available.

Arsenal v Stoke
sees the Gunners returning Britannia Stadium where they have struggled in recent times. Last campaign, Tony Pulis' men triumphed 2-1 at home and this term the two teams met in the FA Cup, with Stoke impressive 3-1 winners that day. The game is a chance for Arsene Wenger's charges to go back within two points of Manchester United, who are in Carling Cup final action this weekend, and also record a third league win on the spin. Stoke, though, are on a decent run, and are currently unbeaten in 2010, while their midweek scalp of Man City in the FA Cup reiterated how difficult a place the Potteries is to visit. Furthermore, there might be an added interest in how Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen performs following reports of an interest in his services from Arsenal in January.

Burnley v Portsmouth
3pm on Saturday will see Pompey, effectively 17 points adrift of safety, as they await to be hit with the nine-point penalty that goes with going into administration on Friday, face a fellow relegation zoner. And, one would think, certain demotion awaits for Avram Grant's men. Defeat is unthinkable for Brian Laws' Burnley, who were given a lesson in their last outing at Villa Park and have won just one of their last 15 top-flight matches. Pompey have been miserable travellers of late, but can take heart from Burnley's home not being the fortress it was earlier this season.

Bolton Wanderers v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Toothless Bolton Wanderers take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium. Owen Coyle's side have struggled of late, with a lack of goals their main weakness. Indeed, Bolton have failed to score in their last five Premier League matches - they have never gone six without scoring in their top flight history. Wolves are hardly firing on all cylinders themselves, having netted just four goals in their last eight league matches. A goalless draw would likely be the most predictable of final scorelines, but a stalemate would do neither side any favours in their fight against the drop. Bolton lie in the relegation zone, a point behind Wolves, so victory for one or the other would feel like a six-point haul.

Birmingham City v Wigan Athletic
Birmingham City tackle Wigan Athletic at St Andrews. The Latics will be desperate to return to winning ways as the threat of them sitting in the bottom three come the end of the weekend is a genuine possibility. Wigan have triumphed in just one of their previous 12 league matches, with the throwing away of points proving their undoing: they have dropped 16 from leading positions. Birmingham occupy 10th in the table, 12 points above their opponents, but their form of late has diminished. Alex McLeish's charges have lost their last two games and, amid growing concerns of burnout, a positive result against Wigan is key before they travel to Portsmouth at the beginning of March.

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton
On Sunday, Tottenham Hotspur welcome Everton to White Hart Lane in a clash that has all the promise of a tasty fixture. Spurs occupy fourth, although that may alter depending on how City fair 24 hours earlier, while Spurs will be boosted by their midweek progress in the FA Cup and the recent form of striker Roman Pavlyuchenko. The Toffees are currently flying in the league, having achieved back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Manchester United, although manager David Moyes has remained typically level-headed, keen, and rightly, taking one game at a time. Nonetheless, victory for Everton would see them close to within five points of Tottenham, making it even more realistic that they could still make a fight of it for the final UEFA Champions League berth.

Liverpool v Blackburn Rovers
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez will hope that his side suffer no adverse effects from their lengthy return trip to Europa League opponents Unirea Urziceni when they meet in-form Blackburn Rovers at Anfield. Sam Allardyce's side have embarked on an excellent recent run of results which has put them within touching distance of Premier League safety. Indeed, a return of 13 points - all four of their wins coming at home - from a possible 18 on offer has helped the Lancashire club rise to 12th in the table. Liverpool occupy sixth in the standings and are aiming to achieve a first victory in three games after being beaten at Arsenal and held at Eastlands.

Sunderland v Fulham
Sunderland do battle with Fulham, with Steve Bruce's Black Cats in dire need of a win. It is now 13 games since Sunderland last triumphed in the league, with that success coming against Arsenal on 21st November 2009. Fulham are on an unbeaten run of four league matches but they head into Sunday's game at the Stadium of Light having played at Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday. Furthermore, the Cottagers' form on their travels has been typically ropey, with the club having not won any of their last 12 Premier League away matches. So perhaps there is hope for Bruce. But the worry for the Wearsiders, and this is testament to their dramatic slide, is that they could feasibly find themselves in the relegation zone come the end of this round of fixtures, having occupied eighth spot earlier this term.







































































Source James Dall at SkySport

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