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Premier League MatchDay 15 preview

last updated Saturday 07th December 2013, 12:10 AM

MatchDay 15 Saturday, December 7, 2013
Time Home   Away TV Venue
12:45 Man Utd v Newcastle BT A. Marriner
15:00 C.Palace v Cardiff   M. Jones
15:00 Liverpool v West Ham   M. Oliver
15:00 Southampton v Man City   A. Taylor
15:00 Stoke v Chelsea   J. Moss
15:00 West Brom v Norwich   M. Clattenburg
17:30 Sunderland v Tottenham Sky1 L. Mason
MatchDay 15 Sunday, December 8, 2013
13:30 Fulham v Aston Villa Sky1 M. Dean
16:00 Arsenal v Everton Sky1 H. Webb
MatchDay 15 Monday, December 9, 2013
20:00 Swansea v Hull Sky1 C. Foy
The Premier League MatchDay 15 kicks off at Old Trafford at 12:45. Manchester United, in need of a spark in the title race, welcome Newcastle United who have beaten Manchster United once in the last 23 meetings of the two sides.

A bottom of the table clash between Crystal Palace and Cardiff City follows. The Eages will be hoping to down the Blue Birds after their win against West Ham.

Next Liverpool welcome West Ham with open arms as it is 50 years since The Hammers last won at Anfield. Man City travel to the South Coast hoping that their away win at West Brom last time out is not a flash in the pan.

Premiership table - after 6th December 2013
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Arsenal 14 6 0 1 15 5 5 1 1 14 5 19 34
2 Chelsea 14 6 1 0 17 6 3 2 2 11 8 14 30
3 Man City 14 7 0 0 29 2 2 1 4 11 12 26 28
4 Liverpool 14 6 0 1 18 4 2 3 2 12 13 13 27
5 Everton 14 4 3 0 13 6 3 3 1 9 7 9 27
6 Tottenham 14 3 2 2 7 7 4 1 2 6 8 -2 24
7 Newcastle 14 4 2 1 11 7 3 0 4 8 14 -2 23
8 Southampton 14 4 2 1 13 5 2 2 3 5 8 5 22
9 Man Utd 14 3 2 2 8 6 3 2 2 14 12 4 22
10 Aston Villa 14 2 1 4 6 9 3 3 1 10 7 0 19
11 Swansea 14 2 3 2 14 11 3 0 4 6 8 1 18
12 Hull 14 4 2 1 7 3 1 0 6 5 15 -6 17
13 West Brom 14 2 2 3 10 9 1 4 2 7 10 -2 15
14 Stoke 14 2 4 1 5 3 1 1 5 7 15 -6 14
15 Cardiff 14 2 2 3 7 10 1 3 3 4 10 -9 14
16 Norwich 14 3 2 2 8 7 1 0 6 4 21 -16 14
17 West Ham 14 2 1 4 8 10 1 3 3 4 5 -3 13
18 Fulham 14 1 1 5 7 13 2 0 5 5 13 -14 10
19 C. Palace 14 2 1 4 5 10 1 0 6 3 12 -14 10
20 Sunderland 14 2 0 5 9 14 0 2 5 2 14 -17 8
Chelsea will be battling Stoke at the Britannia Stadium determined to keep on the tail of League leaders Arsenal.

Norwich City go to West Bromwich Albion with both teams desperate to put some distance between them and the drop zone.

The evening match on Saturday is bottom placed Sunderland against a stuttering Tottenham that need a win to take the pressure of AVB.

Sunday starts with Fulham, another relegation threatend side, hoping that a change of manager can get them some points against Aston Villa.

It ends with The Gunners facing a tough home game against 5th placed Everton who are still enjoying the beating of Manchester United.

MatchDay 15 is brought to a close by a mid-table clash between Swansea and Hull on Monday evening

Saturday 7th December 2013

12:45 Manchester United v Newcastle United ~ BTSport 1

Defending champions Manchester United are beginning to lose their grip on the top-flight crown, with a midweek defeat at home to Everton leaving them 12 points off the pace. David Moyes conceded after a shock setback against his former club that the Red Devils have it all to do if they are to end the season on top.

There is, however, still a long way to go and United will be back at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime for a visit from Newcastle United - a side who have failed to emerge victorious on their last 29 visits to the Theatre of Dreams, coming unstuck in 21 of those fixtures, and one who saw a run of four straight wins brought to an abrupt halt by Swansea on Wednesday.

Shinji Kagawa is suffering from a sickness bug which affected him in midweek but with Wayne Rooney missing through suspension, United boss David Moyes could do with him being available. Robin van Persie (groin) has been missing for a fortnight and Moyes is refusing to put a timescale on the striker's return.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will make a late check on Papiss Cisse - the striker missed the defeat at Swansea with a heel problem. However, midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who did not travel to the Liberty Stadium because of illness, reported for training on Thursday and is expected to be available at Old Trafford.

Last season: Man Utd 4 Newcastle 3, Newcastle 0 Man Utd 3

Last five league matches: Man Utd W W D D L; Newcastle W W W W L

Top scorers (all competitions): Robin van Persie & Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 10; Loic Remy (Newcastle) 8

Referee: Andre Marriner.

Verdict: Manchester United 2 Newcastle 1

15:00 Crystal Palace v Cardiff

Crystal Palace moved off the bottom with their victory over West Ham on Tuesday - with Tony Pulis having plenty to celebrate after his first home game in charge of the Eagles. His second arrives on Saturday afternoon, with Cardiff City travelling between the Welsh and English capital cities. No added incentive is required for those currently inside the bottom three, but Palace will be aware of the importance of taking points off those in and around them - and victory at the weekend would close them to within a point of Cardiff.

On the other side of the coin, Malky Mackay will be hammering into his troops the need to collect a positive result and offer a bit of breathing space in the battle to avoid the drop.

Palace manager Tony Pulis confirmed the players who beat West Ham remain fit, although winger Yannick Bolasie again misses out through suspension. Jonny Williams hopes to make his first start after an ankle injury but Jack Hunt, Glenn Murray, Jerome Thomas and Adlene Guedioura remain long-term injuries.

Cardiff will have Craig Bellamy and Andrew Taylor available. Bellamy has recovered from a hamstring problem, while Taylor failed a late fitness test before the midweek draw at Stoke. Boss Malky Mackay must decide whether to put the left-back straight into his side after Declan John impressed in his place.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Crystal Palace L D W L W; Cardiff W L D L D

Top scorers (all competitions): Marouane Chamakh & Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace) 2; Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff) 3

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire).

Verdict: Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff 1

15:00 Liverpool v West Ham

Any slip-up from Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium would present Liverpool with an opportunity to move back up the standings. They offered the perfect response to a shock defeat at Hull City when they put five past hapless Norwich in midweek. Suarez was - again - the Canaries' chief tormentor at Anfield, with the Uruguayan plundering four goals during a spectacular individual showing to make history as the first man to net three hat-tricks against the same opponents in Premier League competition. He now has 13 goals for the season and will be looking to add to that tally when inconsistent

West Ham United - who suffered a potentially costly defeat to fellow strugglers Crystal Palace on Tuesday - travel to Merseyside.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has to decide whether to stick with a winning team for the visit of West Ham in the Barclays Premier League. The Reds boss made three changes for the Luis Suarez-inspired 5-1 midweek demolition of Norwich and that trio of Daniel Agger, Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho will expect to retain their places. Striker Daniel Sturridge is sidelined until the new year with an ankle sprain.

West Ham will be without midfielder Ravel Morrison, who will serve a one-match ban after picking up his fifth booking of the season in midweek. Former Liverpool forward Andy Carroll is back in training for the Hammers after a long-term heel injury, but is not yet in contention. Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) and Razvan Rat (hamstring) are likely to miss out with George McCartney and Alou Diarra (both knee) also absent.

Last season: Liverpool 0 West Ham 0, West Ham 2 Liverpool 3

Last five league matches: Liverpool L W D L W; West Ham D L L W L

Top scorers (all competitions): Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 13; Ravel Morrison (West Ham) 5

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Verdict: Liverpool 3 West Ham 0

15:00 Southampton v Manchester City

If the title is to return to Manchester in May, it could end up at City - with the Blues having found a cure for their travel sickness at West Brom. Manuel Pellegrini will hope that a 3-2 success at The Hawthorns has turned the tide for his troops, as they prepare to make the long journey south to face Southampton. City sit just six points off the pace at present and will view the busy festive period as an ideal opportunity to close that gap.

They would appear to be running into the Saints at a good time, with the St Mary's bubble having burst of late. Three successive defeats have dropped Mauricio Pochettino's men into eighth spot - with a previously watertight defence having shipped eight goals during that wobble.

Victor Wanyama (leg) and Nathaniel Clyne (pelvis) have joined Saints' growing injury list after being forced off in the loss to Aston Villa. Morgan Schneiderlin, Guly do Prado and Danny Fox are out and Jose Fonte is a doubt, while Paulo Gazzaniga starts in goal as Artur Boruc has fractured his hand and back-up Kelvin Davis is struggling with a side injury. However, Gaston Ramirez is available after illness.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is optimistic Blues captain Vincent Kompany will be fine to keep his place in the team after returning from a thigh problem in the win at West Brom. Striker Stevan Jovetic, defender Matija Nastasic and playmaker David Silva will all miss the game due to calf injuries.

Last season: Southampton 3 Man City 1, Man City 3 Southampton 2

Last five league matches: Southampton D W L L L; Man City W L W W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) 6; Sergio Aguero (Man City) 17

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

Verdict: Southampton 1 Manchester City 3

15:00 Stoke v Chelsea

Chelsea are the closest challengers to table-topping Arsenal at present, with the Gunners holding a four-point advantage. With Arsene Wenger's side not in action until Sunday afternoon, the Blues could move to within touching distance of the summit away at Stoke City. Chelsea have won their last three in the league, finding the target on at least three occasions in each of those contests, and boast an enviable record against the Potters.

Stoke have failed to win any of their last 12 meetings with the Blues, failing to score in their last four. That record does not bode well for Mark Hughes, with only four points separating his team from the top-flight trapdoor.

Erik Pieters is Stoke's main doubt, the full-back was forced off at half-time of the draw against Cardiff with a groin strain and a late decision will be made on his availability. Striker Jonathan Walters has recovered from a dead leg but defender Robert Huth (knee) and winger Matthew Etherington (back) are out.

David Luiz will miss the match with a knee injury - Blues boss Jose Mourinho insists a date for the defender's return has yet to be set. A late decision will be made on midfielder Oscar, who has recovered from an ankle problem, and striker Samuel Eto'o is back from a groin problem.

Last season: Stoke 0 Chelsea 4, Chelsea 1 Stoke 0

Last five league matches: Stoke D D W L D; Chelsea L D W W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Kenwyne Jones (Stoke) 4; Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 8

Referee: Jon Moss.

Verdict: Stoke 0 Chelsea 2

15:00 West Brom v Norwich

West Bromwich Albion entertain Norwich City, with there little to separate the two sides at present. There are just three places and one point between the pair as they prepare to lock horns at The Hawthorns. West Brom will probably feel that their return is not a true reflection on the performances they have put in, with Steve Clarke's men unfortunate not to have a healthier tally. They have, however, collected just one win from their last eight Premier League matches - against lowly Palace - and there is only so long that the hard-luck stories will hold up.

Norwich could argue that they are in a similar boat, but they have been conceding goals at an alarming rate over the course of the last month or so and have obvious issues to address.

Youssouf Mulumbu returns from suspension to bolster West Brom's midfield, although defender Jonas Olsson is out for the same reason after he collected his fifth yellow card in midweek. On-loan winger Scott Sinclair is also available after recovering from a hamstring injury, as well as being ineligible for the game against parent club City. Goalkeeper Ben Foster (foot) and striker Nicolas Anelka (groin) remain out.

Norwich striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel is running without pain after his prolonged toe muscle injury, according to manager Chris Hughton, but his return is scheduled for Swansea next weekend. Midfielders Anthony Pilkington (hamstring), Robert Snodgrass (knee), Alexander Tettey (ankle) and Elliott Bennett (knee) and goalkeeper Mark Bunn (ankle) all miss out for the visitors.

Last season: Norwich 4 West Brom 0, West Brom 2 Norwich 1

Last five league matches: West Brom W D D L L; Norwich L W L W L

Top scorers (all competitions): Saido Berahino (West Brom) 6; Gary Hooper (Norwich) 4

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Verdict: West Brom 1 Norwich 1

17:30 Sunderland v Tottenham ~ SkySports One

Tottenham Hotspur broke out of their winless run at derby rivals Fulham on Wednesday, with a first success in five helping to lift some of the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas. The Portuguese tactician feels his position has been unfairly questioned of late, and he has a point as Spurs are just three points adrift of the UEFA Champions League places. Scoring goals has been something of a problem for the capital outfit, but they managed another two in midweek and will be facing a Sunderland defence on Saturday Night Football that has been breached a division-high 28 times this season to drop the Black Cats back to the foot of the division - five points from safety.

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has reported a clean bill of health. John O'Shea was Poyet's only real concern after appearing to aggravate the groin problem he suffered at Aston Villa last weekend during Wednesday's 4-3 defeat by Chelsea - however, the defender has been able to train normally and is expected to be fit.

Jan Vertonghen is a doubt with an ankle injury sustained in the midweek win at Fulham. Moussa Dembele's ongoing hip complaint ruled him out of that match but after resting he could come back into contention. Full-back Danny Rose has made a tentative return to training, but is not yet ready for a playing comeback.

Last season: Spurs 1 Sunderland 0, Sunderland 1 Spurs 2

Last five league matches: Sunderland L W L D L; Spurs D L L D W

Top scorers (all competitions): Phil Bardsley & Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland) 3; Jermain Defoe (Spurs) 9

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Verdict: Sunderland 1 Tottenham 1

Sunday 8th December 2013

13:30 Fulham v Aston Villa ~ SkySports One

Fulham desperately need to get their season back on track, with the wheels having fallen off their campaign in spectacular fashion. Martin Jol has been relieved of his managerial duties and replaced by Rene Meulensteen, but the Dutchman's first game in charge - against Spurs in midweek - brought a sixth straight defeat, despite a much improved performance.

Hoping to inflict more misery on the Cottagers this weekend will be Aston Villa, who have moved quietly into the top half of the table. A five-match unbeaten run has carried them there, with Paul Lambert getting the best out of a tight-knit group who are all pulling in the same direction.

Brede Hangeland will miss the Villa clash after being ruled out for six weeks after surgery to correct a nerve problem in his right leg. Defender Phillipe Senderos will face a fitness test after playing through a thigh strain in Wednesday's 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham, and Fernando Amorebieta is also doubtful. Loan striker Darren Bent is unable to play due to Fulham facing his parent club and has a hamstring strain in any case. Kieran Richardson is a doubt with hamstring trouble.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert faces defensive issues. Skipper Ron Vlaar is doubtful with a calf injury that forced him off in the midweek win at Southampton, whilst Antonio Luna is struggling with a groin problem, added to which Joe Bennett continues to recover from a back issue that has kept him out since the end of September. Lambert must also decide whether to recall Christian Benteke to the starting line-up.

Last season: Aston Villa 1 Fulham 1, Fulham 1 Aston Villa 0

Last five league matches: Fulham L L L L L; Aston Villa D W D D W

Top scorers (all competitions): Darren Bent & Hugo Rodallega (Fulham) 3; Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 5

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Verdict: Fulham 1 Aston Villa 2

16:00 Arsenal v Everton ~ SkySports One

The curtain will come down on Sunday at the home of the leaders - with Arsenal guaranteed to be occupying top spot when they take to the field at Emirates Stadium to tackle Everton. The Gunners can take considerable heart from that fact, but will be determined to ensure that there remains clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.

They will have their work cut out, though, against the one side in the division who have suffered fewer defeats than them this season. Everton have been beaten just once in 14 outings this term and enhanced their claims of a possible top-four finish on Wednesday as they left Old Trafford with a credible, and long awaited, 1-0 win.

Arsenal will again be without full-back Bacary Sagna (hamstring) for Sunday's match against Everton. Manager Arsene Wenger reported no fresh injuries from their midweek win over Hull when several first-team players were rested. German forward Lukas Podolski is back in training after his hamstring injury, but not yet match fit. Forward Yaya Sanogo (back), midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) are all still sidelined.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez will take the same squad which defeated Manchester United to the leaders. Centre-back Antolin Alcaraz, who has yet to make his debut because of injury, travelled with the team to Old Trafford and could come into the matchday 18. Left-back Leighton Baines is still three to four weeks away from recovering from a broken toe while striker Arouna Kone and midfielder Darron Gibson are out.

Last season: Arsenal 0 Everton 0, Everton 1 Arsenal 1

Last five league matches: Arsenal W L W W W; Everton D D D W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 13; Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 8

Referee: Howard Webb.

Verdict: Arsenal 1 Everton 2

Monday 9th December 2013

20:00 Swansea v Hull ~ SkySports One

Swansea strikers Michu (ankle), Wilfried Bony (hamstring) and Alvaro Vazquez (groin) are all injured and doubtful for the clash but with few alternatives available boss Michael Laudrup will hope at least one of them may pull through in time to feature. If not, the Dane may elect to again play with a 'false nine' after the tactic proved successful in the midweek win over Newcastle.

Curtis Davies is available again for Hull - the defender missed the defeat at Arsenal through suspension and boss Steve Bruce must decide whether to recall him in place of James Chester. Striker Matty Fryatt also hopes to figure having recently returned to the club following a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Swansea L D W L W; Hull W L L W L

Top scorers (all competitions): Wilfried Bony (Swansea) 9; Robbie Brady & Matt Fryatt (Hull) 4

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

Source Sky/ Sporting Life
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