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Premier League MatchDay 16 Preview

last updated Saturday 08th December 2012, 9:53 AM

Premiership Fixtures
Saturday 8th December 2012
KO Home   Away Ref TV
15:00 Arsenal v West Brom M Jones  
15:00 Aston Villa v Stoke R East  
15:00 Southampton v Reading J Moss  
15:00 Sunderland v Chelsea M Halsey  
15:00 Swansea v Norwich H Webb  
15:00 Wigan v QPR P Dowd  
Sunday 9th December 2012
13:30 Man City v Man Utd M Atkinson Sky1
15:00 Everton v Tottenham K Friend  
16:00 West Ham v Liverpool L Probert Sky1
Monday 10th December 2012
20:00 Fulham v Newcastle L Mason Sky1
Premier League Match Day 16 kicks off with Arsenal desperate to find some form when they host West Brom after a disheartening slump which has seen them slide into mid-table.

In-form Stoke will hope to continue their ascent of the standings as they travel to Aston Villa but Villa appear to have been jolted into life.

Promoted Southampton and Reading meet in what could be considered a pre-Christmas six-pointer in the battle against relegation.

Premiership table - after 4th Dec 2012
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man Utd 15 6 0 1 19 9 6 0 2 18 12 16 36
2 Man City 15 6 2 0 19 6 3 4 0 9 5 17 33
3 Chelsea 15 4 3 1 14 7 3 2 2 11 9 9 26
4 Tottenham 15 4 2 2 13 10 4 0 3 15 13 5 26
5 West Brom 15 6 0 2 14 6 2 2 3 10 13 5 26
6 Everton 15 3 4 0 12 8 2 4 2 13 11 6 23
7 Swansea 15 3 4 1 13 10 3 1 3 10 7 6 23
8 West Ham 15 4 3 1 14 7 2 1 4 5 10 2 22
9 Stoke 15 4 3 0 7 2 1 4 3 7 10 2 22
10 Arsenal 15 3 2 2 16 10 2 4 2 8 6 8 21
11 Liverpool 15 3 3 2 9 7 1 4 2 10 11 1 19
12 Norwich 15 4 2 1 8 7 0 5 3 5 14 -8 19
13 Fulham 15 3 1 3 13 10 1 4 3 12 16 -1 17
14 Newcastle 15 4 1 3 10 9 0 4 3 7 12 -4 17
15 Aston Villa 15 2 3 2 8 8 1 2 5 4 15 -11 14
16 Wigan 15 2 2 4 11 15 2 0 5 4 13 -13 14
17 Sunderland 14 1 3 2 5 7 1 4 3 8 11 -5 13
18 Southampton 15 2 3 3 13 12 1 0 6 8 20 -11 12
19 Reading 14 1 4 2 12 14 0 2 5 7 13 -8 9
20 QPR 15 0 4 3 5 13 0 2 6 6 14 -16 6
Chelsea are still seeking a first league win under new manager Rafael Benitez as they visit Sunderland who are just a point clear of the relegation zone after a run of poor results.

Swansea sprung a surprise at Arsenal last weekend when they snatched a late win and will be seeking their third success in a row when they play host to Norwich.

Rock-bottom QPR are yet to win under new boss Redknapp and will hope to rectify that when they make the trip to Wigan.

All eyes will be on Manchester for Sunday's derby as defending champions Manchester City look to topple neighbours Manchester United from the top spot, with Roberto Mancini's men currently three points behind.

Elsewhere on Sunday, in-form Tottenham travel to Everton on the back of three successive wins which have lifted them into fourth place.

The last game on Sunday sees Liverpool travel to West Ham with the chance of leapfrogging the Londoners in the standings and both sides entering the Upton Park clash on the back of wins.

Saturday 08 December 2012

15:00 - Arsenal (10) v West Brom (5)

Arsenal will be looking to respond to their critics and return to winning ways when they take on high-flying West Bromwich Albion at Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arsene Wenger has come under pressure this season following a poor run of results and was asked after last weekend's home defeat by Swansea City whether he had considered resigning.

He responded by insisting the Gunners would stay strong and stick together, but Tuesday's 2-1 UEFA Champions League loss to Olympiakos was a fourth straight game in all competitions without a victory.

Steve Clarke's men had been in the top four until suffering back-to-back defeats against Swansea and Stoke City, and will now be aiming to get back on track in North London.

West Brom have already beaten the likes of Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea this season but Clarke remains wary of an Arsenal backlash, and Albion have never kept a clean sheet in 12 Premier League games against Arsenal.

Arsenal will be without forwards Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Theo Walcott (calf) against West Brom. Defender Bacary Sagna (foot) is a major doubt, but Laurent Koscielny (thigh) is definitely out. Full-back Andre Santos (stomach muscle) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) continue their rehabilitation.

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke has virtually a full squad to choose from with goalkeeper Ben Foster the only absentee as he continues his rehabilitation after a second groin operation. Boaz Myhill again deputises.

Clarke has to decide whether to recall the likes of striker Peter Odemwingie and midfielders James Morrison and skipper Chris Brunt, who were rested for last weekend's encounter with Stoke.

Last season: West Brom 2 Arsenal 3, Arsenal 3 West Brom 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 10; Shane Long (West Brom) 7

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

15:00 - Aston Villa (15) v Stoke (9)

Aston Villa will be hoping to edge further clear of trouble on Saturday, but will have their work cut out against in-form Stoke City.

Having endured a brief dalliance with the Premier League drop zone in mid-November, Villa appear to have been jolted into life.

Stoke will be no pushovers at Villa Park, though, with Tony Pulis' side having taken maximum points from their last three fixtures and four of their last five.

The Potters are now perched inside the top half of the Premier League table and are looking to push on towards possible European qualification.

Aston Villa winger Charles N'Zogbia has returned to training after a six-week absence with a knee problem but may not feature against Stoke. Skipper and centre-back Ron Vlaar remains a major doubt with a calf problem which ruled him out of the last two games with Reading and QPR. Left-backs Enda Stevens (ankle) and Joe Bennett (knee) are still sidelined.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is hopeful striker Peter Crouch will be able to return. Crouch, who missed last weekend's 1-0 victory at West Brom having lost some teeth in a collision with Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini in the previous match, has had a mouthguard fitted and is being monitored in training.

Pulis is also optimistic Cameron Jerome will be fit after an ankle injury. The Potters will definitely be without midfielders Charlie Adam (suspension) and Rory Delap (hernia), along with defender Marc Wilson (broken leg).

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 8; Peter Crouch (Stoke) 5

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire)

15:00 - Southampton (18) v Reading (19)

Southampton and Reading meet at St Mary's in a proverbial pre-Christmas 'six-pointer', with both promoted clubs stuck in the Premier League relegation zone.

Reading defender Sean Morrison has already outlined the importance of his side picking up three points after last week's thrilling 4-3 defeat by Manchester United condemned Brian McDermott's men to a third straight loss.

Since winning last season's Championship title, Reading have yet to win away from home in the league in seven attempts, but can draw level on points with Southampton if they claim the spoils on Saturday.

Southampton finished a point behind their weekend opponents last term, but have acclimatised to life in the top flight marginally better and could move out of the bottom three with victory on Saturday.

A 1-0 reverse at Liverpool last weekend ended Saints' run of four games unbeaten and Nigel Adkins' side have lost just one of their last six matches at home.

Gaston Ramirez will be available to face Reading despite spending the week in Uruguay. The 22-year-old returned to his homeland last Sunday on compassionate leave but will be in the squad to face the Royals. Richard Chaplow and Frazer Richardson are back in training after injury, although the latter is not yet ready for a first-team return.

Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak is a doubt after sustaining an unspecified injury while on reserves duty. Danny Guthrie should return from a thigh problem, but his fellow midfielders Jimmy Kebe (groin) and Jem Karacan (knee) are definitely out.

Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy has undergone shoulder surgery, but manager Brian McDermott is refusing to set a date for his return.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Southampton D W W D L; Reading D W L L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 6; Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) 5

Referee: Jon Moss

15:00 - Sunderland (17) v Chelsea (3)

Rafa Benitez continues his search for a first Premier League win as Chelsea manager as his side travel to Sunderland.

The Spaniard is looking to avoid writing his name into Chelsea's record books as the first manager not to taste victory in their first four Premier League games.

But hopes will be high that they have turned the corner following their 6-1 thrashing of FC Nordsjaelland in the UEFA Champions League.

However, Chelsea are playing one of only four teams below them in the form guide in the shape of Sunderland, who have just two wins in their last 22.

And history is also very much in Chelsea's favour as they have won 14 of their last 15 games against Sunderland.

Defender John O'Shea and striker Steven Fletcher are both in contention to face Chelsea. O'Shea is the more likely to feature having trained this week following a calf injury, while leading scorer Fletcher will be assessed after being forced off at half-time in last weekend's defeat by Norwich with an ankle problem. Captain Lee Cattermole is expected to be out for another two months after damaging knee ligaments.

Midfielder Frank Lampard will return from his calf injury at the Stadium of Light.

Defender John Terry and striker Daniel Sturridge are still sidelined with knee and hamstring problems respectively. Midfielder John Obi Mikel begins a three-game ban.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 6; Juan Mata & Fernando Torres (Chelsea) 9

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

15:00 - Swansea (7) v Norwich (12)

Two impressive unbeaten runs will be put on the line when Swansea City welcome Norwich City to the Liberty Stadium.

The Swans have gone six games since they last tasted defeat, with three wins in their last four carrying them to within three points of the top four.

Michael Laudrup has found a formula that works, with his side having also tightened up at the back - with over two months having passed since Swansea last conceded more than once in a Premier League fixture.

Norwich, though, will arrive in South Wales on Saturday confident that they can bring the high-flying Swans crashing back down to earth.

With a slow start to the campaign now a distant memory, Chris Hughton has overseen an eight-match unbeaten run which has lifted the Canaries seven points clear of the relegation zone and to within touching distance of the top-half of the table.

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup will not rush Michel Vorm and Pablo Hernandez back into his starting line-up against Norwich. Goalkeeper Vorm is back in training following a groin injury but is not ready to return, while Hernandez is still struggling with a thigh problem.

Wayne Routledge could return from an ankle knock which may see top scorer Michu again moved up front.

Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong will be fit to face Swansea. The 26-year-old looked to be struggling towards the end of the 2-1 win over Sunderland, but manager Chris Hughton has revealed the centre-half is available for selection.

Goalkeeper John Ruddy has undergone a thigh operation and faces up to three months out, while defender Michael Turner (shoulder) and on-loan striker Harry Kane (metatarsal) are also missing.

Last season: Swansea 2 Norwich 3, Norwich 3 Swansea 1

Last five league matches: Swansea D W D W W; Norwich D W D D W

Top scorers (all competitions): Miguel Michu (Swansea) 11; Grant Holt (Norwich) 3

Referee: Howard Webb

15:00 - Wigan (16) v QPR (20)

Harry Redknapp will be hoping it is third time lucky as he tries to give Queens Park Rangers something to celebrate at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

The recently-appointed QPR boss has cancelled the traditional Christmas players' bash as he is not a fan of parties and believes there is no reason for cheer.

Redknapp has a point given QPR are still without a win after 15 Premier League games, but two draws have been taken against Sunderland and Aston Villa since the former Tottenham boss replaced Mark Hughes at the helm.

History between QPR and Wigan is thin on the ground, with only eight previous meetings between the two clubs and last season's corresponding fixture saw the Latics win 2-0 thanks to Franco Di Santo's double.

That is Wigan's only home success over QPR and Roberto Martinez has called on his players to show character following a run of four defeats in five games.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is set to be without four central defenders against QPR. Antolin Alcaraz (groin) and Ivan Ramis (hamstring) are injured while captain Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa are both suspended after the Football Association rejected Wigan's appeal against the latter's red card in Monday's 3-0 defeat to Newcastle.

Midfielder Ben Watson (broken leg), wingers Albert Crusat (knee) and Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Shaun Maloney (groin) all remain sidelined.

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is a doubt as he is still struggling with the groin injury he suffered at Sunderland two weeks ago.

Stephane Mbia and Samba Diakite have recovered from the neck and ankle injuries they suffered in last weekend's 1-1 draw against Aston Villa. Long-term absentees Bobby Zamora (hip) and Andrew Johnson (knee) remain sidelined.

Last season: QPR 3 Wigan 1, Wigan 2 QPR 0

Last five league matches: Wigan L L W L L; QPR L L L D D

Top scorers (all competitions): Jordi Gomez (Wigan) 5; Bobby Zamora (QPR) 4

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Sunday 09 December 2012

13:30 - Man City (2) v Man Utd (1)

Manchester City and Manchester United resume their rivalry on Sunday in a derby clash at the Etihad Stadium which could provide vital momentum in the Premier League title race.

Roberto Mancini's City emerged victorious in both Premier League encounters last season, winning 6-1 at Old Trafford and 1-0 at home before snatching top spot in the most dramatic style on the final day.

The Blues have made a decent start to the defence of their crown and remain unbeaten after 15 games, but it is United who hold a three-point advantage ahead of the latest meeting.

David Silva (hamstring) could return for Sunday's derby against Manchester United. Midfielder James Milner (hamstring) and left-back Gael Clichy (ankle) are also hoping to prove their fitness while midfielder Yaya Toure returns after his midweek European suspension. Defender Aleksandar Kolarov (ankle) has been ruled out, along with Micah Richards (knee).

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is waiting on the results of a scan on Tom Cleverley's calf injury before finalising his side. Antonio Valencia (hip) and Nani (hamstring) are definitely out, while Ferguson does not think Shinji Kagawa and skipper Nemanja Vidic (both knee) will be available either. Anderson is also a major doubt with a hamstring injury.

Last season: Man City 1 Man Utd 0, Man Utd 1 Man City 6

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Carlos Tevez (Man City) 8; Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 13 Match odds: H 5-4 A 15-8 D 5-2

Referee: Martin Atkinson

15:00 - Everton (6) v Tottenham (4)

Everton and Tottenham have experienced contrasting fortunes in recent weeks, but both remain in and around the top four.

The Toffees have gone three matches without a win to slip out of the UEFA Champions League spots, with draws holding David Moyes' men back.

Everton have already been involved in eight stalemates this season, so while they are proving to be difficult to beat, they need to rediscover the winning formula and build momentum.

Spurs have no such troubles at present, with Andre Villas-Boas' side in the midst of another productive sequence of results.

A run of three straight wins has carried the North London outfit into the top four and level on points with capital rivals Chelsea, suggesting they could climb even higher.

Everton could have Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman available to face Tottenham. Toffees boss David Moyes says forward Mirallas, who has missed four games due to a hamstring injury, and full-back Coleman, sidelined for three by an unspecified problem, have "outside chances" of featuring. Victor Anichebe (hamstring) and Phil Neville (knee) remain on the casualty list.

Tottenham defender Michael Dawson has only a slim chance of recovering from his hamstring injury in time to face Everton. Winger Gareth Bale is out with a hamstring problem while Hugo Lloris is expected to replace Brad Friedel in goal after the American started the Europa League win over Panathinaikos.

Midfielder Scott Parker (Achilles) and left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) are a week away from full fitness and defender Younes Kaboul (knee) is also unavailable.

Last season: Everton 1 Tottenham 0, Tottenham 2 Everton 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Marouane Fellaini (Everton) 8; Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 12

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

16:00 - West Ham (8) v Liverpool (11) - Sky1

West Ham United will be aiming to maintain their impressive return to the Premier League on Sunday against a Liverpool side looking to prove they can cope without Luis Suarez.

Sam Allardyce's side have collected 22 points from their opening 15 games since winning promotion and recorded an excellent 3-1 home victory over Chelsea last weekend.

Only Arsenal have beaten West Ham at Upton Park this season and the hosts will be hoping to repeat the 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the club's last meeting in East London.

Liverpool have lost just once in 10 Premier League games, but have still only won once on their travels this term and sit 11th in the table ahead of the weekend's programme.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce will welcome Yossi Benayoun back into his squad. The former Reds midfielder missed the 3-1 win over Chelsea as he was ineligible to appear against his parent club.

Andy Carroll (knee) could be missing for two months, while Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder), Alou Diarra (thigh) and Jack Collison (knee) are all definitely out.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is suspended after accumulating five bookings. Manager Brendan Rodgers has played midfielder Jonjo Shelvey in a 'false nine' position before and could do so again with no other senior strikers fit.

Captain Steven Gerrard, left out of the Europa League squad on Thursday because of illness, will be restored at Upton Park as will the rested Daniel Agger and Lucas Leiva.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 5; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 13

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Monday 10 December 2012

20:00 - Fulham (13) v Newcastle (14) - Sky1

Fulham can welcome back captain Brede Hangeland to face Newcastle. The Norway international has been suspended for the past three matches after being sent off against Sunderland and is likely to return in defence, while Alex Kacaniklic is back after a hamstring injury.

Bryan Ruiz (hamstring) faces a further month on the sidelines, while right-back Sascha Riether has to overcome a minor knee sprain to feature at Craven Cottage.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew could have several of his big guns back from injury.

Pardew, who made nine changes for the Europa League defeat in Bordeaux, was expecting full-back David Santon (groin), midfielders Cheick Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa (both hamstring) and Gabriel Obertan (toe) and striker Demba Ba (also hamstring) to train on Friday, while Jonas Gutierrez (knee) is in line to resume on Sunday. That would leave Steven Taylor (hamstring) and Yohan Cabaye (groin surgery) on the long-term casualty list.

Last season: Fulham 5 Newcastle 2, Newcastle 2 Fulham 1

Last five league matches: Fulham D L L D L; Newcastle L L L L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) 5; Demba Ba (Newcastle) 10

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Source SkySports/Sporting Life
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