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Premier League MatchDay 21 Preview

last updated Tuesday 01st January 2013, 12:13 PM

Tuesday in Premier League Match Day 21

MatchDay 21 kicks off with Fulham desperate to find some fresh form in the New Year when they visit West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday lunchtime. Martin Jol's team are in relegation shape after winning just one of their last 12 Premier. But it will not be easy at The Hawthorns, where the Baggies have won seven games this season to match the record of defending champions Manchester City.

Premiership Fixtures
Tuesday 1st January 2012
KO Home   Away Ref TV
12:45 West Brom v Fulham M Dean Sky1
15:00 Man City v Stoke M Oliver  
15:00 Swansea v Aston Villa M Halsey  
15:00 Tottenham v Reading H Webb  
15:00 West Ham v Norwich M Clattenburg  
15:00 Wigan v Man Utd A Marriner  
17:30 Southampton v Arsenal L Probert Sky1
Wednesday 2nd January 2012
19:45 Chelsea v QPR L Mason  
19:45 Liverpool v Sunderland P Dowd  
20:00 Newcastle v Everton M Atkinson Sky1
Manchester City enter their first game of 2013 against Stoke with the aim of slicing Manchester United's seven-point lead. City will be feeling confident as they prepare to entertain Stoke, having only lost at the Etihad Stadium once this season. The Potters have struggled to find away form, winning just once on their travels, but claiming six away draws.

Aston Villa are under pressure to deliver against Swansea City on New Year's Day after a dismal run of form over the festive period. Swansea will see the game as an opportunity to strengthen their own position in the top half of the table after beating Fulham 2-1 on Saturday to end a four-match winless run.

Tottenham Hotspur kick off the New Year against a Reading side in a relegation dogfight. Spurs have won six of their past eight matches to stay firmly in contention for a top-four finish. Reading will head to Spurs in good spirits after a win against West Ham gave them just a second league win of the campaign. They are three points clear of rock-bottom Queens Park Rangers, but remain five points adrift of safety.

Premiership table - after 30th Dec 2012
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man Utd 20 9 0 1 28 13 7 1 2 22 15 22 49
2 Man City 20 7 2 1 22 9 5 4 1 16 10 19 42
3 Chelsea 19 5 3 1 22 7 6 2 2 17 11 21 38
4 Tottenham 20 5 3 2 14 10 6 0 4 22 16 10 36
5 Arsenal 19 5 2 2 25 13 4 4 2 14 8 18 33
6 Everton 20 5 4 1 17 12 3 5 2 16 13 8 33
7 West Brom 20 7 1 2 16 7 3 2 5 12 18 3 33
8 Stoke 20 5 5 0 14 7 1 6 3 7 10 4 29
9 Liverpool 20 4 3 3 14 10 3 4 3 17 16 5 28
10 Swansea 20 3 5 2 17 15 4 2 4 12 9 5 28
11 Norwich 20 5 2 3 13 13 1 5 4 10 19 -9 25
12 West Ham 19 4 3 3 17 12 2 2 5 5 11 -1 23
13 Sunderland 20 3 3 4 11 12 2 4 4 10 14 -5 22
14 Fulham 20 4 2 4 17 14 1 4 5 13 22 -6 21
15 Newcastle 20 5 1 4 12 12 0 4 6 14 25 -11 20
16 Wigan 20 2 3 5 13 18 3 0 7 9 17 -13 18
17 Aston Villa 20 2 4 4 8 15 2 2 6 7 24 -24 18
18 Southampton 19 3 3 4 14 13 1 2 6 12 24 -11 17
19 Reading 20 2 5 3 15 19 0 2 8 7 18 -15 13
20 QPR 20 1 4 5 8 19 0 3 7 8 17 -20 10
A return to unbeaten ways will be at the top of Norwich City's New Year's resolution list when they meet West Ham at Upton Park. Chris Hughton's team travel to London having surrendered a previous 10-game run without losing and have now suffered three successive defeats. But West Ham have suffered their own problems over recent weeks and have picked up just five points from their last eight games.

Manchester United will be in no hurry to relinquish their seven-point lead at the top of the Premier League when they travel to Wigan on New Year's Day. At the other end of the table, Wigan sit 31 points behind their visitors in 16th place, a point clear of the relegation zone.

Arsenal will hope to start 2013 in the style they finished the last year when they travel to Southampton. Arsene Wenger's team will kick-off at St Mary's in New Year's Day's evening kick-off full of confidence after hammering Newcastle United 7-3 in their last outing of 2012. Relegation zone occupants Southampton have not struggled to score since returning to the Premier League but they have also had problems keeping clean sheets.

Wednesday in Premier League Match Day 21

MatchDay 21 continues into Wednesday with Chelsea welcoming bottom club QPR. Chelsea are on a good run of form with just the one defeat in eight games and having put eight past Aston Villa in their last home league game. QPR have yet to win away this season and with only the one home win are odds on for the drop.

We then travel up to Merseyside for Liverpool against Sunderland with Liverpool's home form capable of serving up a surprise here and there. Sunderland are quite solid away from home and will not be an easy victim.

The day ends in the North East with Newcastle welcoming Everton. The Merseysiders are flying high on the edge of a Champions League spot and will be a difficult opponent for injury ravaged Newcastle.

Tuesday 1st January 2013

12:45 - West Brom (7) v Fulham (14) - Sky 1

West Brom take on Fulham in the first game of 2013. The Baggies remain level on points with Arsenal and Everton despite losing 2-0 to Manchester United on Saturday and will be determined to get back on track against a Fulham team sliding in the wrong direction.

The Cottagers are now just four points clear of the drop zone, having claimed just one win in their past 12 matches.

Defenders Jonas Olsson (groin), Steven Reid (ankle) and Goran Popov (hamstring) and midfielders Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob (both hamstring) will all be checked over by West Brom boss Steve Clarke, while midfielder George Thorne could make another start after impressing against Manchester United at the weekend.

Fulham will hope Mark Schwarzer can recover from a neck injury after understudy David Stockdale had a forgettable 90 minutes in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to Swansea. Damien Duff is battling to be fit but the game is set to come too soon for Mahamadou Diarra and Mladen Petric.

Last season:Fulham 1 West Brom 1, West Brom 0 Fulham 0

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

Top scorers: Shane Long (West Brom) 7; Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) 6

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

15:00 - Man City (2) v Stoke (8)

Manchester City kept in touch with their local rivals after edging out Norwich City 4-3 in a thriller on Saturday and will be happy to be back at the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day, but it will be a difficult clash against Stoke.

The eighth-placed Potters are on a ten-match unbeaten run and infuriated Man City when they met at the Britannia Stadium in September as Roberto Mancini described Peter Crouch's goal as 'basketball not football'.

Manchester City will be without Samir Nasri after deciding against appealing his sending-off at Norwich. Striker Mario Balotelli (virus) is not yet ready to return while full-backs Aleksandar Kolarov and Maicon (knee) also remain on the sidelines.

Defender Micah Richards (knee) and midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) are still long-term casualties.

Stoke midfielder Steven Nzonzi is available after appealing against his sending-off for an alleged stamp on Southampton's Jack Cork on Saturday. Captain Ryan Shawcross and full-back Geoff Cameron are both likely to return after serving one-match bans, while defenders Robert Huth and Andy Wilkinson should also play despite a clash of heads on Saturday that forced the latter off with concussion.

Last season:Stoke 1 Man City 1, Man City 3 Stoke 0

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

Top scorers: Sergio Aguero (Man City) 9, Edin Dzeko (Man City) 9; Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 6

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

15:00 - Swansea (10) v Aston Villa (17)

Aston Villa's 3-0 defeat at home to Wigan last time out made it 15 goals conceded in three games and none scored, heaping the pressure on manager Paul Lambert ahead of their trip to the Liberty Stadium to play Swansea City.

The Welsh side ended a sequence of four matches without a victory and consolidated their position in mid-table as they overcame Fulham 2-1 on Saturday.

Swansea striker Michu will undergo a late fitness test on his ankle problem, while Angel Rangel is also a doubt with a calf injury. Ben Davies, Chico Flores, Michel Vorm and Leon Britton could all be restored to the starting line-up after being omitted from the starting XI in the 2-1 win at Fulham.

Midfielder Fabian Delph will make a timely return from suspension for Aston Villa, whose injury problems show no sign of abating, with strikers Darren Bent (hamstring) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (thigh), winger Charles N'Zogbia (knee) and defenders Ron Vlaar (calf), Nathan Baker (hamstring) and Richard Dunne all sidelined.

Last season:Aston Villa 0 Swansea 2, Swansea 0 Aston Villa 0

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

Top scorers: Michu (Swansea) 14; Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 11

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)

15:00 - Tottenham (4) v Reading (19)

Reading also got back to winning ways at the weekend as Pavel Pogrebnyak's goal against West Ham United clinched three crucial points, although they remain second from bottom in the standings and next travel to White Hart Lane. Tottenham are in great form after winning six of their last eight matches and will move up to third if they can beat the Royals, although they will be without the suspended Gareth Bale following his yellow card for diving against Sunderland.

Gareth Bale's latest controversial booking for diving has earned him a suspension, with the winger's third yellow card of the season for simulation in Saturday's win at Sunderland his fifth overall. Clint Dempsey (groin) and Benoit Assou-Ekotto (knee) are also unavailable but Scott Parker will look to step up his recovery.

Reading boss Brian McDermott could stick with the same starting line-up for the third game running. Defender Sean Morrison returned to the bench for Saturday's win over West Ham after recovering from an ankle injury, although Jason Roberts (hip) is unlikely to feature with Alex McCarthy (shoulder) a long-term absentee.

Last season:No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 14; Pavel Pogrebnyak (Reading) 6

Referee: Howard Webb

15:00 - West Ham (12) v Norwich (11)

West Ham strive to end a run of four matches without a win against a Norwich side on a three-game losing streak. A home win for the Hammers would lift them above the Canaries in mid-table.

West Ham will be without suspended captain Kevin Nolan, who picked up a fifth booking of the season at Reading on Saturday. Defender James Collins is also missing through suspension with injured duo Andy Carroll (knee) and Mohamed Diame (hamstring) also not in contention.

Norwich midfielder Bradley Johnson will serve a one-match ban after collecting his fifth yellow card, while defender Steven Whittaker (hip), winger Andrew Surman (hip) and goalkeeper John Ruddy (thigh) miss out. Striker Steve Morison (thigh) is doubtful, as is captain Grant Holt (hamstring), so on-loan Tottenham forward Harry Kane could lead the attack.

Last season:No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 5; Grant Holt (Norwich) 4, Anthony Pilkington (Norwich) 4, Robert Snodgrass (Norwich) 4

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

15:00 - Wigan (16) v Man Utd (1)

It has often been said over the past few years that Manchester United get stronger after the turn of the year, so it is an ominous sign for their rivals that Sir Alex Ferguson's men already hold a seven-point advantage at the top of the table.

The Red Devils appear to be marching towards a 20th title after winning seven of their past eight games, but a trip to the DW Stadium derailed their charge last season and Wigan will be looking for a repeat performance after climbing out of the relegation zone with a win over Aston Villa at the weekend.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez has no fresh injury worries, with defender Ivan Ramis coming through a full match against Aston Villa on Saturday with no problems after a hamstring injury. Midfielders Ben Watson (broken leg), Albert Crusat (knee) and Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and defender Adrian Lopez (hamstring) are all still out.

Manchester United full-back Rafael is expected to return from a four-match absence with a hamstring injury, while Phil Jones could also be available as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson once again prepares to rotate his squad, with top scorer Robin van Persie almost certain to be recalled to the starting XI.

Last season:Wigan 1 Man Utd 0, Man Utd 5 Wigan 0

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

Top scorers: Arouna Kone (Wigan) 6; Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 17

Referee: Andre Marriner

17:30 - Southampton (18) v Arsenal (5) Sky 1

Arsenal thrashed Southampton 6-1 earlier in the season and went goal crazy again in their final match of 2012 as they demolished Newcastle United 7-3 to win a fourth straight game. Theo Walcott showed his class with a hat-trick and will be excited about making a return to the club where he started his professional career.

Southampton dropped into the bottom three after being pegged back to 3-3 by Stoke City on Saturday, although they are just a point behind Wigan and Villa. Southampton will again be without captain Adam Lallana, with manager Nigel Adkins once more refusing to confirm how long the midfielder's knee injury would rule him out for, while right-back Nathaniel Clyne is a doubt with a knee complaint that forced him to miss Saturday's 3-3 draw at Stoke.

Arsenal centre-back Per Mertesacker could be available after illness and midfielder Tomas Rosicky may come into contention after he was left on the bench for the 7-3 win over Newcastle. Defender Andre Santos (stomach muscle) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) are expected to start training again this week.

Last season:No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 8; Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 14

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

Wednesday 2nd January 2013

19:45 - Chelsea (3) v QPR (20)

Goalkeeper Petr Cech is expected to sit out after suffering an adductor problem in the win at Everton on Sunday, with Ross Turnbull likely to replace the Czech.

Midfielder John Obi Mikel missed the Goodison Park victory with a knee injury but it is not deemed serious by manger Rafael Benitez.

QPR have no fresh injury problems although Park Ji-sung remains a doubt and strikers Andrew Johnson (knee) and Bobby Zamora (hip) are sidelined with long-term injuries.

Last season:Chelsea 6 QPR 1, QPR 1 Chelsea 0

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

Top scorers: Fernando Torres (Chelsea) 14; Djibril Cisse (QPR) 4, Bobby Zamora (QPR) 4, Adel Taarabt (QPR) 4

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

19:45 - Liverpool (9) v Sunderland (13)

Liverpool defender Jose Enrique has failed to recover from a hamstring injury, with Stewart Downing an option at left-back.

Illness has been sweeping through the camp but the club are confident of keeping infection down to a minimum after midfielder Jordan Henderson and back-up goalkeeper Brad Jones were affected prior to the win over QPR.

Sunderland have suffered a blow as defender John O'Shea will miss out at Anfield due to a hamstring injury although full-back Danny Rose returns to the squad after being ineligible to face parent club Tottenham at the weekend.

Last season:Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0, Liverpool 1 Sunderland 1

Last five league matches: Liverpool W L W L W; Sunderland W L W W L

Top scorers: Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 16; Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 8

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

20:00 - Newcastle (15) v Everton (6) - Sky 1

Mike Williamson returns from suspension but Newcastle's injury woes show no sign of abating as full-back Danny Simpson suffered a broken toe in the 7-3 defeat at Arsenal and he joins defenders Ryan Taylor and Steven Taylor (hamstring) and midfielders Yohan Cabaye (groin) Vurnon Anita (ankle), Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) and Jonas Gutierrez, Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic (all knee) on the sidelines.

Everton will welcome back Marouane Fellaini from a three-match suspension and the Belgian's return will offset the loss of Darron Gibson with a thigh strain for a month.

Kevin Mirallas (hamstring), Tony Hibbert (calf) and Seamus Coleman are all unlikely to feature but Phil Neville (knee) could return having been rested for the defeat by Chelsea.

Last season:Everton 3 Newcastle 1, Newcastle 2 Everton 1

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

Top scorers: Demba Ba (Newcastle) 13; Marouane Fellaini (Everton) 8

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Source Soccernet/SkySports/Sporting Life
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