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Premier League MatchDay 25 Preview

last updated Saturday 02nd February 2013, 10:35 AM

Premiership Fixtures
Saturday 2nd February 2013
KO Home   Away Ref TV
12:45 QPR v Norwich J Moss Sky2
15:00 Arsenal v Stoke C Foy  
15:00 Everton v Aston Villa M Jones  
15:00 Newcastle v Chelsea H Webb  
15:00 Reading v Sunderland L Mason  
15:00 West Ham v Swansea L Probert  
15:00 Wigan v Southampton A Marriner  
17:30 Fulham v Man Utd K Friend ESPN
Sunday 3rd February 2013
13:30 West Brom v Tottenham M Clattenburg Sky1
16:00 Man City v Liverpool A Taylor Sky1
Premier League MatchDay 25 kicks off at 12:45 on Saturday with QPR hoping that money can buy happiness, although it doesn't seem to be working yet. Harry's squad are facing Norwich in a must win game as Harry needs 20 to 24 points from a possible 42 before the end of the season.

Arsenal and Stoke City do battle at the Emirates Stadium in a clash between two sides striving to regain top form. Both teams endured difficult times in January, with the Gunners claiming just one Premier League victory in five games to dent their hopes of a top-four finish.

Aston Villa face a tough challenge at Everton as they bid to climb out of the Premier League relegation zone. David Moyes' will be in no mood to show mercy as they chase another victory to keep their push for European qualification on track.

All eyes will be on Chelsea's Demba Ba as he returns to St James' Park to face Newcastle. Ba will be anxious to get the nod ahead of Fernando Torres on his return, but whether the former Magpies forward will recognise new-look Newcastle is another matter. Newcastle signed five French players last month and one of those new boys - Moussa Sissoko - stole the show with a dominant display in the impressive 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Tuesday.

Premiership table - after 1st Feb 2013
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man Utd 24 11 0 1 32 15 8 2 2 27 16 28 59
2 Man City 24 9 2 1 27 9 6 5 1 18 10 26 52
3 Chelsea 24 6 4 2 26 11 7 3 2 23 13 25 46
4 Tottenham 24 6 4 2 18 12 6 2 4 23 17 12 42
5 Everton 24 6 5 1 19 13 4 6 2 18 14 10 41
6 Arsenal 24 6 3 3 32 18 4 5 3 16 11 19 38
7 Liverpool 24 6 3 3 22 10 3 5 4 20 20 12 35
8 Swansea 24 4 6 2 22 18 4 4 4 12 9 7 34
9 West Brom 24 7 2 3 19 11 3 2 7 15 23 0 34
10 Stoke 24 5 6 1 16 13 1 6 5 8 16 -5 30
11 Sunderland 24 4 4 4 14 12 3 4 5 13 19 -4 29
12 Fulham 24 5 3 4 21 16 2 4 6 15 25 -5 28
13 West Ham 24 5 4 3 20 14 2 2 8 7 22 -9 27
14 Norwich 24 5 4 3 14 14 1 5 6 11 26 -15 27
15 Newcastle 24 5 1 6 14 16 1 5 6 16 26 -12 24
16 Southampton 24 3 5 4 15 14 2 3 7 16 28 -11 23
17 Reading 24 3 6 3 20 23 1 2 9 10 22 -15 20
18 Wigan 24 2 3 7 15 25 3 2 7 12 20 -18 20
19 Aston Villa 24 2 4 6 9 18 2 4 6 11 28 -26 20
20 QPR 24 1 6 5 8 19 1 4 7 10 18 -19 16
Reading welcome Sunderland to the Madejski Stadium having climbed out of the bottom three after their dramatic 2-2 draw with Chelsea in midweek. Sunderland are in the relative safety of a mid-table position, nine clear of the bottom three, but continue to struggle for goals, with their 0-0 home draw against Swansea on Wednesday the third time this season they have failed to muster a shot on target.

Struggling West Ham United will be desperate to end their worrying slump in form when they host Swansea City on Saturday. Sam Allardyce has seen his side take just five points from their last nine games while Michael Laudrup's visitors will arrive in London full confidence after an excellent 2012/13 to date.

Wigan Athletic who face Southampton will want another massive boost in their hopes of avoiding relegation after fighting back for a draw against Stoke in midweek. Roberto Martinez's side could climb out of the drop zone while new Southampton boss Pochettino will be desperate to turn promising performances into his first win since succeeding Adkins.

Manchester United have the chance to extend their lead to 10 points when they visit Fulham on Saturday. They will surely go into this contest in confident mood given that they made easy work of beating Fulham 4-1 last weekend in the FA Cup. Fulham boss Martin Jol will also be missing former United forward Dimitar Berbatov who is out with a hamstring problem.

On Sunday MatchDay 25 continues with West Bromwich Albion and Tottenham Hotspur both seeking to return to winning ways when they lock horns at The Hawthorns. Tottenham's draw at Norwich during the week marked a third straight draw for Spurs, who were also knocked out of the FA Cup by Leeds United last weekend

In the last game of the weekend Manchester City could find themselves 10 points adrift of leaders Manchester United by the time they kick-off their showdown with Liverpool. Liverpool remain a work in progress under Brendan Rodgers, with their thrilling 2-2 draw against Arsenal in midweek encapsulating what they have achieved and what still needs to be done.

Saturday 2nd February 2013

12:45 - QPR (20) v Norwich (14) - Sky 2

Queens Park Rangers are the only side keeping Villa off the foot of the table at present, but they have brought in considerable reinforcements in an effort to steer a course to safety. Harry Redknapp was expected to be busy on deadline day, and he did not disappoint. The challenge now is how to integrate the new boys into an underachieving squad and get them turning the corner.

Norwich will be keen to ensure that those questions remain on Saturday lunchtime, with the Canaries having gone seven games without a win to slip back into relegation trouble themselves - with only seven points keeping them clear of the trapdoor.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp could hand debuts to new signings Christopher Samba, Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend, although he believes fellow new boy Yun Suk-young needs some time to settle in. Junior Hoilett is fit to feature following a hamstring problem but Jamie Mackie (tonsilitis) is a doubt, while Ryan Nelsen and Alejandro Faurlin have left the club.

Norwich could hand a debut to new signing Luciano Becchio but Sierra Leone forward Kei Kamara is awaiting international clearance on his loan move from Sporting Kansas City. Defender Steven Whittaker has recovered from a hip injury but England goalkeeper John Ruddy (thigh) remains out while Tottenham have recalled striker Harry Kane.

Last season: QPR 1 Norwich 2, Norwich 2 QPR 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): DJ Campbell (QPR) 10; Robert Snodgrass (Norwich) 5

Referee: Jon Moss.

15:00 - Arsenal (6) v Stoke (10)

Arsenal displayed commendable battling qualities to take a point off Liverpool in their last outing, but Arsene Wenger will be concerned that his side continue to give themselves a mountain to climb. The Gunners have picked up an unfortunate habit of starting games slowly, and they must kick that if they are to push on and retain their place at European football's top table.

A visit from Stoke is arguably the last thing Wenger and his troops need right now, with the Potters having caused them plenty of problems in the past, but Tony Pulis' side are winless in five and may be there for the taking.

New signing Nacho Monreal could go straight into the Arsenal side. Centre-back Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) is a doubt, but midfielder Mikel Arteta may return after his calf injury. Left-back Kieran Gibbs is out for around six weeks with a thigh problem, while Francis Coquelin (hamstring) is also sidelined and forward Gervinho is away at the African Nations Cup.

Stoke have no new injury problems but new signings Jack Butland and Brek Shea will not be involved, goalkeeper Butland has been loaned back to Birmingham and winger Shea is recovering from a foot operation. Matthew Upson and Rory Delap have left the club and fellow defender Marc Wilson, out since October with a broken leg, hopes to play a reserve game next week as he builds up to a first-team return.

Last season: Stoke 1 Arsenal 1, Arsenal 3 Stoke 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 18; Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 8

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

15:00 - Everton (5) v Aston Villa (19)

Everton continue to grind out results and have plodded along relatively unnoticed in the race for UEFA Champions League football. Those above and below the Toffees continue to dominate the headlines, and David Moyes will be hoping that remains the case until the end of the season.

Just one point separates Everton from the top four at present and they will move into that grouping on Saturday if they can take three points off struggling Aston Villa - a side that has gone seven games without a win, slipped to second from bottom in the standings and piled pressure on the shoulders of boss Paul Lambert.

Everton midfielder Darron Gibson, out since December with a thigh problem, could start. It remains to be seen whether or not striker Nikica Jelavic will be restored to the first XI and it is not expected that teenager John Stones, recruited from Barnsley on transfer deadline day, will be involved. Fellow defenders Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Tony Hibbert (calf) remain sidelined.

Newcomers Yacouba Sylla and Simon Dawkins are included in Villa's squad - midfielder Sylla was signed from French Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot while winger Dawkins joins on loan from Tottenham. Boss Paul Lambert will check on the fitness of midfielder Fabian Delph (ankle) but hopes of a return for defender Richard Dunne are dashed by a recurrence of his groin problem.

Last season: Aston Villa 1 Everton 1, Everton 2 Aston Villa 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Marouane Fellaini (Everton) 9; Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 15

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire).

15:00 - Newcastle (15) v Chelsea (3)

Chelsea's faint title hopes now appear to be over, with the dropping of another two points at Reading on Wednesday leaving them 13 points off the pace. Cementing a top-four standing is now the priority at Stamford Bridge, with that particular race still keenly-contested. Newcastle were involved themselves last season, but have suffered a dramatic fall from grace.

A welcome midweek win has edged them four points clear of the drop zone, but they could do with another shot in the arm when Chelsea arrive on Tyneside.

Magpies midfielders Sylvain Marveaux and Moussa Sissoko, striker Yoan Gouffran and defender Steven Taylor will be available. Only midfielders Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) and Cheick Tiote, who is on duty with Ivory Coast at the African Nations Cup, will not figure for the home side.

Blues keeper Peter Cech is set to replace Ross Turnbull after recovering from a calf strain, while midfielder Juan Mata has shaken off an ankle problem. John Terry could return in defence but David Luiz (calf) and long-term absentee Oriol Romeu (knee) are still out and John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses are at the African Nations Cup, while Eden Hazard serves the final game of a three-match suspension.

Last season: Chelsea 0 Newcastle 2, Newcastle 0 Chelsea 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle) 12; Demba Ba (Chelsea) 16

Referee: Howard Webb.

15:00 - Reading (17) v Sunderland (11)

Sunderland have shown how it should be done, with Martin O'Neill having put talk of a potential basement battle firmly to one side at the Stadium of Light. He has also been able to bolster his ranks since the Black Cats' last outing and may decide to field a new-look strike force at the Madejski Stadium.

Reading have, however, moved out of the bottom three for the first time since November, with Brian McDermott's side having become a tough nut to crack, and they will be in buoyant mood after snatching a dramatic point off Chelsea last time out.

Noel Hunt faces a late fitness test ahead on an unspecified knock. Royals boss Brian McDermott, who is already without Jason Roberts (hip), must decide whether or not to promote Adam Le Fondre to the starting line-up. The striker again impressed off the bench against Chelsea, scoring twice for the second successive league game - but McDermott has stressed his best role is presently as a substitute.

Striker Danny Graham will go straight into the Sunderland squad alongside defenders Carlos Cuellar and Danny Rose, who could return from hamstring injuries. However, skipper Lee Cattermole will remain on the sidelines after aggravating his knee problem once again on his return to training.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Le Fondre (Reading) 12; Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 10

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

15:00 - West Ham (13) v Swansea (8)

The wheels have come off West Ham's campaign somewhat and they have issues to address heading into a home date with Swansea. Of greatest concern to Sam Allarydce will be a leaky defence, with the Hammers having kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 Premier League outings. Unsurprisingly, they have struggled to pick up wins during that run and are now caught in a position just below mid-table where they need to ensure that they continue to look upwards rather than nervously over their shoulder.

A meeting with Swansea will be no walkover for West Ham, though, with the Swans unbeaten in seven and handily-perched on the edge of the European-chasing pack.

Hammers boss Sam Allardyce is hoping to give more minutes to striker Andy Carroll as the striker continues to find fitness following a knee injury. The England striker is again likely to be on the bench for the Hammers, who are still without defensive trio George McCartney (knee), James Collins (hamstring) and Dan Potts (concussion).

Goalkeeper Michel Vorm will miss out for Swansea as he continues his recovery from a knee injury - Gerhard Tremmel will again fill in. Kemy Agustien (ankle) and Neil Taylor (broken leg) remain sidelined and Danny Graham's departure to Sunderland means Michu is likely to be employed as a striker, with Itay Shechter, who has yet to score this season, the alternative option for Michael Laudrup.

Last season: No corresponding fixture Last five league matches (all competitions): West Ham W L D L L; Swansea W D D W D

Top scorers (all competitions): Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 6; Michu (Swansea) 16

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

15:00 - Wigan (18) v Southampton (16)

Wigan are third side inside the drop zone , with Roberto Martinez finding himself back in an all too familiar predicament. The Latics have battled relegation on an almost annual basis during their Premier League stay, and 2013 looks like being no different. There is, however, plenty of time in which to clamber clear of trouble, and games against those in and around you provide the best chance of picking up points.

That makes a home date with Southampton on Saturday vital to the Wigan cause. The Saints have only suffered one defeat in seven - to table-topping Manchester United - but they have been unable to pull away from danger and could be dragged back into the mix by the Latics.

Paul Scharner could figure in defence for Wigan, with Ivan Ramis (knee) and Antolin Alcaraz (groin) unavailable. Full-back Emmerson Boyce (hamstring) is a doubt, defender Adrian Lopez (hamstring), keeper Mike Pollitt (thigh) and midfielders Ben Watson (broken leg), Albert Crusat (knee), Ryo Miyaichi (ankle) and Fraser Fyvie (soft tissue problem) are out and forward Arouna Kone is on African Nations Cup duty.

Saints captain Adam Lallana could make his first start in nearly two months after recovering from a knee injury. New signing Vegard Forren was not involved in the defeat at Manchester United but could force himself into the squad, although Jose Fonte and Guly Do Prado (both knee) are likely to miss out.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jordi Gomez (Wigan) 7; Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 10

Referee: Andre Marriner.

17:30 - Fulham (12) v Man Utd (1) - ESPN

Standing at the summit at present are Manchester United, with the Red Devils having opened up a seven-point lead. They could pull 10 clear on Saturday, with Sir Alex Ferguson's men offered another opportunity to put down a marker to their rivals. United did drop points on their last visit to the capital - at Tottenham - but will fancy their chances of making amends when they go to Fulham.

The Cottagers will have been buoyed by their midweek derby win over West Ham, but will also be aware that a visit from United presents an entirely different challenge.

A hamstring injury rules out Fulham's former United striker Dimitar Berbatov for up to 10 days. Steve Sidwell, Mahamadou Diarra (both knee), Kerim Frei (pelvis) and Kieran Richardson (calf) are also sidelined but AC Milan loanee Urby Emanuelson could make his debut, although fellow deadline day signings Stanislav Manolev and Eyong Enoh are unavailable as they wait for their work permits.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is intending to make changes, with Rio Ferdinand in line for a recall and fellow defender Jonny Evans back after a hamstring injury. However, midfielder Ashley Young (knee) remains sidelined.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) 8; Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 22

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Sunday 3rd February 2013

13:30 - West Brom (9) v Tottenham (4) - Sky 1

Tottenham will hope to end the weekend where they start it - in fourth place. Another slip up from capital rivals Chelsea would allow them to edge closer to a top-three finish, but for now returning to UEFA Champions League competition is the sole target.

Victory for Everton on Saturday would knock them off their lofty perch, but Andre Villas-Boas will know that a win over West Brom at White Hart Lane will make other results irrelevant. You can see how the out-of-sorts Baggeis fare in the capital live on Sky Sports 1 HD - with Steve Clarke's side having suffered four defeats in five.

West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie, not considered for the game at Everton after his new-born son was readmitted to hospital, misses out on Sunday's match due to the fall-out from his attempt to join QPR. Youssouf Mulumbu is available after returning to the club from African Nations Cup duty following DR Congo's exit, but fellow midfielder George Thorne is ruled out with a knee injury.

Striker Jermain Defoe is available for Spurs after overcoming his niggling pelvic injury. Midfielder Tom Huddlestone (leg) is also fit but striker Emmanuel Adebayor is at the African Nations Cup and defender Younes Kaboul and midfielder Sandro (both knee) also miss out. Midfielder Lewis Holtby could make his full debut and striker Harry Kane is in the squad following his recall from a loan spell at Norwich.

Last season: Tottenham 1 West Brom 0, West Brom 1 Tottenham 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Shane Long & Romelu Lukaku (West Brom) 9; Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 14

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

16:00 - Man City (2) Liverpool (7) - Sky 1

The final fixture on an action-packed weekend is the one likely to generate the most interest, with title-chasing Manchester City set to welcome North West rivals Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium - for a game which can be seen live on Sky Sports 1 HD as part of a Super Sunday double-header.

City remain confident that they can defend their top-flight crown, but a 0-0 draw at lowly QPR in their last outing has cast doubt over those claims. Liverpool will be looking to make life difficult for the Blues once again over the weekend, with Brendan Rodgers still looking for consistency from a

side which could surge towards the top four over the second half of the season, or slump back towards halfway. City, again without captain Vincent Kompany, hope fellow defender Matija Nastasic is fit to start after a knee problem - otherwise midfielder Javi Garcia may again have to deputise. Right-back Maicon (knee) is back in training and could soon be available while fellow defender Micah Richards (knee) hopes to return this month. Midfielder Yaya Toure and defender Kolo Toure are still on international duty.

New signing Phillippe Coutinho will not be in the Liverpool squad - the Brazilian has briefly returned to Milan after Wednesday's switch from Inter and will not return until next week. Left-back Jose Enrique could start having made his comeback from a hamstring injury in the draw at Arsenal.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Edin Dzeko (Man City) 11; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 22

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

Source Soccernet/SkySports/Sporting Life
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