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Premier League MatchDay 19 Preview

last updated Tuesday 25th December 2012, 7:26 PM

Premier League MatchDay 19 will see the North East have their say in the Premier League title race when the top two face Newcastle and Sunderland on Boxing Day. League leaders Manchester United host Alan Pardew's Newcastle side, while the Premier League champions Manchester City travel to Sunderland.

Premiership Fixtures
Wednesday 26th December 2012
KO Home   Away Ref TV
15:00 Everton v Wigan L Mason  
15:00 Fulham v Southampton P Dowd  
15:00 Man Utd v Newcastle M Dean  
15:00 Norwich v Chelsea J Moss  
15:00 QPR v West Brom C Foy  
15:00 Reading v Swansea M Jones  
15:00 Sunderland v Man City K Friend  
17:30 Aston Villa v Tottenham M Clattenburg Sky1
19:45 Stoke v Liverpool H Webb Sky1
Manchester United have a four point lead over City after managing only a draw at Swansea on Sunday. Newcastle beat the Red Devils in their first game of 2012 but Sir Alex Ferguson will expect all the points against a team that is just five points above the drop zone.

Sunderland are even closer to the relegation spots, a point and a place below the Magpies, but Martin O'Neill has reason for encouragement. Not only can the Black Cats point to Reading's battling display against Manchester City  at the weekend but Sunderland also beat City on New Year's Day thanks to Ji Dong-Won's late goal.

In the televised games, Aston Villa have the chance to bounce back from their eight-goal thrashing at Chelsea when they host Tottenham in front of the Sky Sports 1 cameras at 5.30pm. With Arsenal's game against West Ham cancelled due to transport issues, Spurs will move above their north London rivals if they can avoid defeat at Villa Park.

Premiership table - after 23rd Dec 2012
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man Utd 18 7 0 1 22 10 7 1 2 22 15 19 43
2 Man City 18 7 2 1 22 9 4 4 0 12 6 19 39
3 Chelsea 17 5 3 1 22 7 4 2 2 14 10 19 32
4 Arsenal 18 4 2 2 18 10 4 4 2 14 8 14 30
5 Everton 18 4 4 0 14 9 3 5 2 16 13 8 30
6 Tottenham 18 5 3 2 14 10 4 0 4 16 15 5 30
7 West Brom 18 7 1 2 16 7 2 2 4 10 15 4 30
8 Liverpool 18 4 3 3 14 10 2 4 2 13 13 4 25
9 Stoke 18 4 4 0 8 3 1 6 3 7 10 2 25
10 Norwich 18 5 2 1 10 8 1 5 4 10 19 -7 25
11 Swansea 18 3 5 2 17 15 3 1 4 10 8 4 24
12 West Ham 18 4 3 3 17 12 2 2 4 5 10 0 23
13 Fulham 18 4 1 3 15 11 1 4 5 13 22 -5 20
14 Newcastle 18 5 1 4 12 12 0 4 4 8 14 -6 20
15 Sunderland 18 2 3 3 9 10 2 4 4 10 14 -5 19
16 Aston Villa 18 2 4 2 8 8 2 2 6 7 24 -17 18
17 Southampton 17 3 3 4 14 13 1 0 6 8 20 -11 15
18 Wigan 18 2 3 5 13 18 2 0 6 5 15 -15 15
19 QPR 18 1 4 3 7 14 0 3 7 8 17 -16 10
20 Reading 18 1 4 3 14 19 0 2 8 7 18 -16 9
After that match, it's the turn of Stoke and Liverpool to take centre-stage as they clash in the 7.45pm kick-off live on Sky Sports 1. Stoke have the meanest defence in the Premier League but no team in the division has scored fewer so it could be a tight affair as Tony Pulis and Brendan Rodgers square off in the Potteries.

Down at the bottom, it's a big day for Queens Park Rangers as they host West Bromwich Albion at Loftus Road. Harry Redknapp was unbeaten in his first four games in charge of the Hoops but defeat to Newcastle on Saturday was a setback and they need wins fast if they are to escape the drop.

The situation is even more desperate for Reading who sit bottom of the pile with just nine points so far this season. Brian McDermott will be targeting three much-needed points when the Royals entertain Swansea.

Elsewhere, Chelsea look to build on Sunday's sensational drubbing of Villa and strengthen their grip on third place when they travel to Norwich. The Canaries saw their 10-game unbeaten run end in defeat at West Brom last time out but they are a tough proposition at Carrow Road so the Blues will need to be at their best to claim the points.

Playing to their best is something Fulham failed to do at Anfield at the weekend but that four-goal beating needs to be forgotten as the Cottagers host struggling Southampton. The Saints have won three of their last six but are only kept out of the drop zone on goal difference so need to maintain that form if they are to survive.

Wigan are the team the other side of that line at the moment and, while Roberto Martinez has a habit of finding a way to stay up, the Latics need a win at Everton to stop the rot.

Wednesday 26th December 2012

15:00 - (5) Everton v Wigan (18)

Everton are eyeing a top-four spot while Wigan are aiming to claw their way out of the relegation zone at Goodison Park.

With Arsenal not playing on Boxing Day, the Toffees can move into the UEFA Champions League places with a victory.

David Moyes' side have not won back-to-back games in the Premier League since the first two fixtures of the current campaign but he will rarely have a better opportunity than against struggling Wigan.

Roberto Martinez's team continue to win admirers with their passing game but have taken just one point from their last five games to fall into the bottom three.

Not that Latics fans will be panicking after their dramatic upturn in fortunes towards the end of last season but they would be unwise to rely on similar success in 2013.

Everton midfielder Darron Gibson will be eligible to play as his appeal against his red card at West Ham cannot be heard until later in the week.

Fellow midfielder Marouane Fellaini serves the second of a three-match ban while Seamus Coleman, Tony Hibbert and Kevin Mirallas have all been kept out recently by injury.

Wigan captain Gary Caldwell could make his return from a hamstring problem and fellow centre-back Ivan Ramis, who has been nursing a similar complaint, has a chance of featuring as well.

Midfielder James McCarthy (ankle) is a doubt and Antolin Alcaraz (groin), Adrian Lopez (hamstring), Albert Crusat (knee), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Ben Watson (broken leg) remain on the Latics' lengthy casualty list.

Last season: Wigan 1 Everton 1, Everton 3 Wigan 1.

Last five league matches: Everton D D W D W; Wigan L L D L L.

Top scorers: Marouane Fellaini (Everton) 8; Jordi Gomez (Wigan) 5.

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

15:00 - (13) Fulham v Southampton (17)

Southampton look to move away from relegation danger when they visit out-of-form Fulham on Boxing Day.

Saints are only out of the bottom three on goal difference and have lost all but one of their away matches in the Premier League this season.

But a trip to west London represents an opportunity for Nigel Adkins' men given that Fulham have won just one of their last 10 matches.

Martin Jol cut a downbeat figure after a four-goal beating at Liverpool at the weekend, bemoaning the loss of key players in the summer.

But the Dutchman knows that keeping the Cottagers away from relegation trouble is part of his remit and it will alarm him that his team are just five points clear of the drop zone.

Bryan Ruiz could return for Fulham after a hamstring injury, but is rated 50-50 by manager Martin Jol.

Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petric are doubts and Damien Duff is definitely out.

Simon Davies (hip) is also unavailable, while Steve Sidwell returns from suspension.

Southampton skipper Adam Lallana was not fit for Saturday's 1-0 home defeat to Sunderland due to a knee injury and is expected to miss out again.

Nigel Adkins' side appeared to come through the defeat to the Black Cats without any new knocks.

Last season: No corresponding fixture.

Last five league matches: Fulham D L W L L; Southampton W D L W L.

Top scorers: Mladen Petric & Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) 5; Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 6.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

15:00 - (1) Manchester United v Newcastle United (14)

League leaders Manchester United will be looking to get back to winning ways on Boxing Day when they entertain Newcastle.

United saw their lead at the summit cut to four points over the pre-Christmas weekend, with a 1-1 draw away at Swansea allowing the chasing pack to close in.

The Magpies are still searching for consistency at the halfway stage, with just five points separating them from the drop zone.

Alan Pardew will be keen to keep his side looking upwards, though, and a morale-boosting showing at Old Trafford could be just the catalyst they need to get up and running.

Sir Alex Ferguson is certain to make changes to Manchester United's starting line-up.

Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher will be amongst those hoping to be involved, whilst Rafael needs to shrug off the hamstring injury that kept him out of the Liberty Stadium encounter.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will be without midfielder Cheick Tiote.

The Ivory Coast international collected his fifth booking of the season during Saturday's 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory over QPR and is suspended.

Otherwise, Pardew will have only his long-term absentees missing for the game at Old Trafford - Hatem Ben Arfa, Steven Taylor (both hamstring), Yohan Cabaye (groin) and Ryan Taylor (knee).

Last season: Newcastle 3 Man Utd 0, Man Utd 1 Newcastle 1.

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

Top scorers: Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 15; Demba Ba (Newcastle) 11.

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

15:00 - (10) Norwich v Chelsea (3)

Norwich will be wary of facing a Chelsea side on Boxing Day which plundered eight goals in its last Premier League outing.

The Canaries are, however, in decent form themselves right now, with Saturday's 2-1 reversal against West Brom bringing to an end a 10-match unbeaten run.

The Blues are, however, starting to click under new boss Rafa Benitez, with the Spaniard having won over certain sections of a sceptical fan base.

An 8-0 mauling of Aston Villa on Sunday will have helped to earn him a few more admirers, with the capital outfit firing on all cylinders.

Norwich captain Grant Holt is back in training after a hamstring injury but City will be without defender Steven Whittaker, who suffered a recurrence of a hip injury during Saturday's defeat at West Brom.

Russell Martin should replace him while Ryan Bennett is also back in training and could feature.

Rafael Benitez looks set to be without Chelsea captain John Terry due to inflammation on his knee following surgery.

Ryan Bertrand also remains a doubt after he was forced off in Wednesday's Capital One Cup quarter-final at Leeds.

Last season: Norwich 0 Chelsea 0, Chelsea 3 Norwich 1.

Last five league matches: Norwich D W W W L; Chelsea D D L W W.

Top scorers: Robert Snodgrass & Grant Holt (Norwich) 4; Fernando Torres (Chelsea) 14.

Referee: Jon Moss.

15:00 - (19) QPR v West Brom (7)

QPR will be aiming for just their second victory of the league campaign while West Brom have returned to winning ways.

There will be little festive cheer around Loftus Road unless the home side can win for just the second time in the Premier League this season.

West Brom travel to London in confident mood with their win over Norwich on Saturday having brought a run of four games without victory to an end.

They can also take heart from the previous meeting between the two sides this season.

Goalkeeper Julio Cesar (back) should be fit to return to QPR's squad but full-backs Nedum Onuoha and Armand Traore are doubtful due to hamstring injuries.

Park Ji-sung (knee) is another player sidelined, while strikers Andrew Johnson (knee) and Bobby Zamora (hip) remain absent.

West Brom's Youssouf Mulumbu returns from suspension.

The midfielder missed the home win over Norwich after incurring five bookings this season.

Baggies boss Steve Clarke will check on the fitness of defender Steven Reid (ankle) and midfielder Claudio Yacob (hamstring) before finalising his side.

Last season: West Brom 1 QPR 0, QPR 1 West Brom 1.

Last five league matches: QPR D D D W L; West Brom L L L D W.

Top scorers: Adel Taarabt & Bobby Zamora (QPR) 4; Shane Long (West Brom) 7.

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

15:00 - (20) Reading v Swansea (11)

Reading head into back-to-back home fixtures over the Christmas period knowing that it is now or never if they are to escape the clutches of Premier League relegation.

A controversial, last-gasp defeat against champions Manchester City on Saturday extended their run of defeats to seven and ensured they remain marooned at the bottom of the table, six points from safety.

That is not to say Swansea won't be hoping for three points.

Michael Laudrup's side have often been at their most potent on the road, with a 2-0 triumph at the Emirates Stadium at the start of December being their third away win of the season.

And although that was their last victory after what has been a trying month, they will have been buoyed by holding Manchester United to a hard-fought 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Veteran Reading striker Jason Roberts (hip) misses out again.

The 34-year-old has missed the Royals' last three games but is close to regaining fitness.

Defender Sean Morrison (ankle) is still sidelined and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) is out long term but Reading have no fresh injuries from the weekend loss at Manchester City.

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup may shuffle his pack.

The Dane hopes to have winger Pablo Hernandez available after a thigh injury, but Angel Rangel is set to miss out again with a calf problem.

Ki Sung-yueng could come back into the side after Kemy Agustien was handed a starting role against Manchester United.

Last season: No corresponding fixture.

Last five league matches: Reading L L L L L; Swansea W W L L D.

Top scorers: Adam Le Fondre & Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) 5; Miguel Michu (Swansea) 14.

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire).

15:00 - (15) Sunderland v Manchester City (2)

Sunderland will be looking to edge further clear of trouble on Boxing Day, while putting a serious dent in Manchester City's title bid.

The Black Cats enjoyed a pre-Christmas boost when they saw off Southampton at St Mary's, with two wins in three lifting them four points clear of the relegation zone.

Roberto Mancini's men will be wary of suffering a repeat on Wearside, with a dramatic victory over Reading on Saturday having allowed them to close to within four points of table-topping Manchester United.

The challenge now is to ensure that there are no untimely slip-ups before the end of the year, with City determined to make life as uncomfortable as possible for their arch-rivals at the summit.

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson is a doubt for the clash with former club Manchester City due to a dead leg.

Fellow midfielder Sebastian Larsson has a knee problem, although manager Martin O'Neill is hoping both will make the game.

Skipper Lee Cattermole and defender Wes Brown (both knee) are long-term casualties but midfielder David Meyler has been recalled from his loan spell at Hull.

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (groin) could return after being kept on the bench as a precaution last weekend.

Mario Balotelli (illness) could also come back into contention while left-backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Gael Clichy will hope to overcome niggles.

Samir Nasri is out with a hamstring injury.

Last season: Man City 3 Sunderland 3, Sunderland 1 Man City 0.

Last five league matches: Sunderland L L W L W; Man City W D L W W.

Top scorers: Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 8; Carlos Tevez & Sergio Aguero (Man City) 8.

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

17:30 - (16) Aston Villa v Tottenham (6)

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert will be demanding an immediate response from his charges for Tottenham's Boxing Day visit following his side's drubbing at Chelsea.

The Blues knocked eight goals past Lambert's side as their recent good run came to a humiliating halt at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

For Spurs, Andre Villas-Boas' men go into the clash sitting in sixth in the table, one of four teams tied on 30 points, having taken 13 points from their last six games.

But Villas-Boas will also be demanding an improvement to his side's away form following just one win and three losses from their last four league trips.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert will assess the fitness of striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh), winger Charles N'Zogbia (knee) and captain Ron Vlaar (calf).

Striker Darren Bent is again ruled out with a hamstring injury while centre-back Richard Dunne will undergo rehab work after a third groin operation.

Clint Dempsey is a doubt for Spurs after he missed Saturday's draw against Stoke with a groin problem.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto may make his long-awaited comeback from a knee injury while Scott Parker could also make his first start of the season after coming off the bench in the last two games following his recovery from an Achilles injury.

Last season: Aston Villa 1 Tottenham 1, Tottenham 2 Aston Villa 0.

Last five league matches: Aston Villa W D D W L; Tottenham W W L W D.

Top scorers: Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 11; Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 13.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

19:45 - (9) Stoke v Liverpool (8)

Liverpool go into the game buoyed by their thumping 4-0 win over Fulham as they bounced back from their shock defeat to Aston Villa in style.

Stoke also picked up an impressive point at Tottenham after securing their ninth clean sheet of the campaign in the stalemate at White Hart Lane.

The Potters enjoy a fine home record against Liverpool and they will be looking to extend their current eight game unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Stoke striker Michael Owen could make his first-team comeback against his old club after a hamstring problem.

It remains to be seen whether or not another former Red, midfielder Charlie Adam, will be involved after he missed Saturday's 0-0 draw at Tottenham having been granted compassionate leave following the death of his father.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is unlikely to make any changes, though winger Raheem Sterling may come back into the side having been rested for the victory over Fulham.

Midfielder Joe Allen, however, may remain on the bench to manage a pelvic problem.

Last season: Liverpool 0 Stoke 0, Stoke 1 Liverpool 0.

Last five league matches: Stoke W W D D D; Liverpool L W W L W.

Top scorers: Peter Crouch (Stoke) 5; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 14.

Referee: Howard Webb.

Source Soccernet/SkySports/Sporting Life
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