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Premier League MatchDay 26 Preview

last updated Saturday 09th February 2013, 1:01 PM

Premiership Fixtures
Saturday 9th February 2013
KO Home   Away Ref TV
12:45 Tottenham v Newcastle - Sky2
15:00 Chelsea v Wigan -  
15:00 Norwich v Fulham -  
15:00 Stoke v Reading  
15:00 Sunderland v Arsenal -  
15:00 Swansea v QPR -  
17:30 Southampton v Man City - ESPN
Sunday 10th February 2013
13:30 Aston Villa v West Ham - Sky1
16:00 Man Utd v Everton - Sky1
Sunday 11th February 2013
20:00 Liverpool v West Brom   Sky1
Premier League MatchDay 26 kicks off at White Hart Lane where a couple of weeks ago Tottenham at home to Newcastle would have been viewed as a gauranteed home win but Newcastle bring back-to-back victories into this game and have certainly been improved by some astute January signings.

Chelsea will hope a return to the green, green grass of home prompts an upturn in fortune against Wigan as their last four games - all on the road - have yielded the sum total of zero wins. Wigan, for their part, haven't beaten a top-level team since they they beat Villa back on December 29. They've not won in the last six against Chelsea, though, and have only ever taken one Premier League point at the Bridge

Norwich have scored just a single goal in their last five matches (including an FA Cup game against non-league Luton) and average a goal a game in their 25 Premier League matches so far. Fulham are hardly ripping up trees either, though and have netted just four goals in their last six away games, although they did beat the Canaries 5-0 in the reverse fixture.

In-form Reading are big outsiders on their visit to Stoke but with their recent comeback wins over Newcastle and West Brom Reading have proved they've got real spirit and Stoke, despite a decent home record, cannot be relishing facing them.

Premiership table - after 3rd Feb 2013
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man Utd 25 11 0 1 32 15 9 2 2 28 16 29 62
2 Man City 25 9 3 1 29 11 6 5 1 18 10 26 53
3 Chelsea 25 6 4 2 26 11 7 3 3 25 16 24 46
4 Tottenham 25 6 4 2 18 12 7 2 4 24 17 13 45
5 Everton 25 6 6 1 22 16 4 6 2 18 14 10 42
6 Arsenal 25 7 3 3 33 18 4 5 3 16 11 20 41
7 Liverpool 25 6 3 3 22 10 3 6 4 22 22 12 36
8 Swansea 25 4 6 2 22 18 4 4 5 12 10 6 34
9 West Brom 25 7 2 4 19 12 3 2 7 15 23 -1 34
10 Stoke 25 5 6 1 16 13 1 6 6 8 17 -6 30
11 West Ham 25 6 4 3 21 14 2 2 8 7 22 -8 30
12 Sunderland 25 4 4 4 14 12 3 4 6 14 21 -5 29
13 Fulham 25 5 3 5 21 17 2 4 6 15 25 -6 28
14 Norwich 25 5 4 3 14 14 1 6 6 11 26 -15 28
15 Newcastle 25 6 1 6 17 18 1 5 6 16 26 -11 27
16 Southampton 25 3 5 4 15 14 2 4 7 18 30 -11 24
17 Reading 25 4 6 3 22 24 1 2 9 10 22 -14 23
18 Wigan 25 2 4 7 17 27 3 2 7 12 20 -18 21
19 Aston Villa 25 2 4 6 9 18 2 5 6 14 31 -26 21
20 QPR 25 1 7 5 8 19 1 4 7 10 18 -19 17

Arsenal should be favourites for a win against an inconsistent Sunderland.But while they continue to keep the pressure on Tottenham in the race for fourth, a lack of consistency away from home has left them trailing their North London rivals.

QPR visit Swansea with a defensive record that has improved dramatically under Harry Redknapp but he has been less successful getting goals. Michael Laudrup's Swansea does well at home but recently they also are having problems getting goals

Southampton have become known for their attacking verve, a reputation which began to be formed at Man City back on the opening weekend of the season. Although Yaya Toure is back to bolster City influential skipper Vincent Kompany is still likely to be missing at the back where they were pulled around by Daniel Sturridge so much last week.

Plenty has already been written about Villa's woes but if anything can encourage them it is last week's 3-3 draw at Everton where they offered attacking threat aplenty but were again undone by their ropey defence. For West Ham, Andy Carroll is bound to prove a threat given Villa's defensive problems, particularly at set pieces. The England international made his first start for some time last week and duly bagged the winner against Swansea

Man Utd who will have Michael Carrick and Ashley Young available, have scored at least twice in 19 of their 25 fixtures this season and it would be no surprise were they to do so again against a shaky Everton backline. Everton are tough to beat - only West Brom have beaten them by more than one goal this term - but United have won 44 of their last 50 league matches at Old Trafford.

Six months on from that chastening August afternoon in the Midlands when West Brom beat Liverpool 3-0 the clubs will meet again at Anfield on Monday night. Times have changes with The Baggies needing a change in fortune after suffering 5 defeats in their last six games while Liverpool have lost one in six.

Saturday 9th February 2013

12:45 - Tottenham (4) v Newcastle (15) - Sky 2

The opening match of the weekend sees Tottenham welcome Newcastle to White Hart Lane for a clash that will have a major impact on the race for Champions League qualification.

Spurs, unbeaten in nine, can climb above Chelsea into third, at least temporarily, by beating the Magpies, although they have been dealt a blow with the news that Jermain Defoe is set to be sidelined for three weeks due to an ankle injury.

There has been a sense of optimism around Newcastle since they made a number of exciting signings last month and a thrilling 3-2 victory at home to Chelsea lifted them further clear of the bottom three.

Spurs will test Emmanuel Adebayor's fitness before deciding whether he goes straight back in to the starting line-up - Adebayor has been at the African Nations Cup for almost a month but boss Andre Villas-Boas hopes he will come through today's training session as his only other recognised striker, Jermain Defoe, is out with an ankle injury. Knee injuries sideline midfielder Sandro and defender Younes Kaboul.

Midfielder Cheick Tiote could return to the Newcastle squad after African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast but Hatem Ben Arfa's return from a hamstring problem has been delayed by a virus which has cost him a week's training and he is unlikely to be ready for selection until the end of the month.

Last season: Tottenham 5 Newcastle 0, Newcastle 2 Tottenham 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 14; Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle) 12

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

15:00 - Chelsea (3) v Wigan (18)

Chelsea will be desperate to get back on track when they host Wigan on Saturday afternoon.

The Blues have had a difficult couple of weeks, having been pegged back to 2-2 by Reading before their loss to Newcastle, while speculation continues over the future of key midfielder Frank Lampard and interim boss Benitez.

Wigan are two points adrift of safety and without a league win in 2013, but they have salvaged draws from losing positions in their two most recent outings.

Blues captain John Terry is out after suffering knee inflammation. Goalkeeper Petr Cech (finger) and Demba Ba (broken nose) are expected to be fit, with the striker in line to play with a protective face mask, while Eden Hazard is available after suspension. David Luiz is available following a calf injury, meaning only John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses, who are at the African Nations Cup with Nigeria, and long-term absentee Oriol Romeu (knee) are out.

Wigan captain Gary Caldwell is rated at 50/50 to be fit, after pulling out of Scotland's midweek friendly with a recurrence of a hip problem. Fellow centre-back Antolin Alcaraz is still edging his way back from a groin problem, Emmerson Boyce and Adrian Lopez are nursing hamstring injuries but Ivory Coast striker Arouna Kone has returned from the African Nations Cup and is fit, if a little underweight according to Martinez.

Last season: Chelsea 2 Wigan 1, Wigan 1 Chelsea 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Demba Ba & Juan Mata (Chelsea) 16; Jordi Gomez (Wigan) 7

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

15:00 - Norwich (14) v Fulham (13) 

Norwich and Fulham are level on points, seven clear of the relegation zone, ahead of their meeting at Carrow Road.

Chris Hughton will be concerned by a run of eight games without a win from his side and determined to halt the slide against a Cottagers team narrowly beaten by Manchester United last weekend.

Norwich boss Chris Hughton describes midfielders Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) and Alex Tettey (knee) as "touch and go" but defender Ryan Bennett is fit again and Hughton reported a clean bill of health after his players returned from the midweek internationals. Loan signing striker Kei Kamara lacks match practice following his move from Sporting Kansas City and Hughton will delay assessing whether he might feature.

Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov faces a fitness test on his hamstring - Urby Emanuelson could make his first start if the Bulgarian misses out. Steve Sidwell (knee) and Kieran Richardson (calf) are available again, new signings Stanislav Manolev and Eyong Enoh are unlikely to feature after being made to wait for their work permits, while Mahamadou Diarra (both knee) and Kerim Frei (pelvis) remain sidelined.

Last season: Fulham 2 Norwich 1, Norwich 1 Fulham 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Luciano Becchio (Norwich) 18; Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) 8

Referee: Howard Webb.

15:00 - Stoke (10) v Reading (17)

Brian McDermott and Adam Le Fondre have been recognised for their achievements in January with monthly Premier League awards, but everyone at Reading will know there is still a lot of work to do after climbing out of the bottom three and will be seeking to extend a fine run of form against a Stoke team on a six-match winless streak.

New signing Brek Shea is eligible and Stoke boss Tony Pulis will now assess the fitness of the 22-year-old United States winger, who has been recovering from foot surgery. Full-back Marc Wilson may be involved after he made his playing comeback from a broken leg in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday.

Royals forward Noel Hunt is back in contention after an unspecified injury. Boss Brian McDermott hopes Jamaica trio Adrian Mariappa, Jobi McAnuff and Garath McCleary return unscathed from international duty but experienced striker Jason Roberts (hip) and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) remain sidelined.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 8; Nick Blackman (Reading) 14

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

15:00 - Sunderland (12) v Arsenal (6)

Arsenal edged out Stoke 1-0 last time out to cut the gap on fifth-placed Everton to a single point, but it is a place in the top four that they will be targeting.

Arsene Wenger's men head to the Stadium of Light on Saturday to take on Sunderland, who remain in the lower half of the standings as they continue to struggle for consistency.

Sunderland winger James McClean is unlikely to feature after injuring his ankle on Republic of Ireland duty in midweek. This match could come too soon for midfielder Lee Cattermole (knee), despite his return to training, although defender Carlos Cuellar could be back from the hamstring problem which has sidelined him since January 5.

Gunners defender Laurent Koscielny faces a fitness test on his calf injury but captain Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) is out. Midfielders Aaron Ramsey (calf) and Francis Coquelin (hamstring) should be available, along with England forward Theo Walcott (foot). Ivory Coast forward Gervinho is back from the African Nations Cup but is not yet expected to feature. Left-back Kieran Gibbs remains out with a thigh problem.

Last season: Sunderland 1 Arsenal 2, Arsenal 2 Sunderland 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 10; Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 18

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

15:00 - Swansea (8) v QPR (20)

Bottom club Queens Park Rangers are four points behind nearest rivals Villa and six away from fourth-bottom Reading, but they are on a five-game unbeaten stretch and have become difficult to break down.

Harry Redknapp takes his troops to Wales this weekend to face a Swansea side eager to return to winning ways following a defeat at West Ham.

Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm is set to return after a knee problem and Kemy Agustien is back in training after an ankle problem - but this game is likely to come a too soon for the midfielder. Neil Taylor (broken leg) remains sidelined and Leon Britton is doubtful with a knee injury.

QPR striker Loic Remy suffered a groin strain prior to last weekend's draw with Norwich but has recovered well and could be involved tomorrow. Junior Hoilett is out with a hamstring complaint, while fellow midfielder Samba Diakite is still away with Mali at the African Nations Cup.

Last season: QPR 3 Swansea 0, Swansea 1 QPR 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Michu (Swansea) 16; DJ Campbell (QPR) 10

Match odds: H 3-4 A 16-5 D 9-4

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).

17:30 - Southampton (16) v Man City (2)

Southampton were denied victory by Wigan last weekend and their next task is to try and overcome Manchester City, in a vital match at both ends of the table.

Roberto Mancini has insisted his City side can defend their title despite losing ground on United after a 2-2 draw with Liverpool, but Saints will be in no mood to hand out any favours and have produced a couple of fine performances under Mauricio Pochettino to remain just outside the drop zone.

Saints left-back Luke Shaw is a doubt with a ligament issue, while fellow full-back Nathaniel Clyne may also be unavailable. Jose Fonte is out and Gaston Ramirez and Guly do Prado may join him, Adam Lallana could return after a knee injury and January acquisition Vegard Forren is set for his debut.

Yaya Toure will return to City's line-up - he, and brother Kolo, are back at City earlier than expected after Ivory Coast failed to get past the last eight of the African Nations Cup. Skipper Vincent Kompany could also be back after calf trouble.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 11; Edin Dzeko (Man City) 12

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Sunday 10th February 2013

13:30 - Aston Villa (19) v West Ham (11) - Sky 1

Sunday's first fixture pits together Aston Villa and West Ham in a crucial contest for Paul Lambert's side.

Villa have slipped into the relegation zone following a run of eight games without a win and were criticised in some quarters for the business they did in January, but there were signs of encouragement in a 3-3 draw with Everton last time out.

With matches against Arsenal and Manchester City next up, there is pressure on Villa to stop the rot at home to a West Ham side comfortably placed in mid-table following a 1-0 win over Swansea.

Fabian Delph is in the squad after ankle trouble, while Karim El Ahmadi is fit after a knee problem. Villa boss Paul Lambert will check on fellow midfielder Ashley Westwood, who is suffering from illness, but hopes of a return for defender Richard Dunne have been dashed by a recurrence of his groin problem.

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has no fresh injury concerns. Defenders James Collins (hamstring) and George McCartney (knee) are still out but all the Hammers' internationals returned from midweek duty unscathed. Modibo Maiga is back at the club following African Nations Cup duty with Mali but is unlikely to feature.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Aston Villa D L D L D; West Ham L D L L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 17; Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 6

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

16:00 - Man Utd (1) v Everton (5) - Sky 1

Manchester United opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the table last weekend and Sir Alex Ferguson has praised the appetite shown by his squad to pick up some silverware.

It is a crucial stage of the campaign for the Red Devils, with a UEFA Champions League clash at Real Madrid next Wednesday, but they will be keeping their focus on Everton's visit to Old Trafford.

David Moyes' men ran out winners in the first meeting between the sides this season and have only lost three league games to date, while they are still in the running for a top-four finish as they currently trail Tottenham by just three points.

Ashley Young returns to the Manchester United squad after a five-match absence with a knee injury, while Phil Jones (shingles) and Michael Carrick (hip) have both recovered from the problems which prevented them reporting for international duty this week.

Everton boss David Moyes is optimistic midfielder Marouane Fellaini will have recovered from a hip injury in time to feature. Phil Jagielka is expected to be involved despite sitting out England's 2-1 victory against Brazil, while fellow defenders Seamus Coleman (thigh) and Tony Hibbert (calf) remain sidelined.

Last season: Man Utd 4 Everton 4, Everton 0 Man Utd 1

Last five league matches: Man Utd W W D W W; Everton W D D W D

Top scorers (all competitions): Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 22; Marouane Fellaini (Everton) 11

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

Monday 11th February 2013

20:00 - Liverpool (07) v West Brom (09) - Sky 1

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is determined to ensure Liverpool maintain the standards which have been set in the recent 2-2 draws away to Arsenal and Manchester City. On both occasions the Reds allowed victory to slip from their grasp as they were punished for defensive errors.Rodgers knows if the Reds are going to launch a push for Champions League qualification it has to start now.

After such a bright start to the campaign, Steve Clarke's West Brom have fallen away alarmingly. They will arrive on the back of an eight-game win-less streak in all competitions which has seen them slip to ninth spot - two points and two places adrift of Liverpool.

West Brom left-back Goran Popov will start a three-match suspension after being sent off for spitting at Tottenham defender Kyle Walker. Midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is in contention to return to the starting line-up for the first time since January 1 after returning to training following a knee problem. Head coach Steve Clarke has to decide whether to recall striker Peter Odemwingie after the collapse of his transfer deadline day move to QPR.

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge will be assessed over the weekend to determine whether he is fit. The England international pulled out of the midweek friendly against Brazil with a thigh problem. Winger Raheem Sterling, who also withdrew from international duty, is fit while new signing Philippe Coutinho has had his first week of training after his move from Inter Milan but may require more time. Last season: Liverpool 0 West Brom 1, West Brom 0 Liverpool 2 Last five league matches: Liverpool D D W L W; West Brom L L D LL Top scorers (all competitions): Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 22; Shane Long, Romelu Lukaku (West Brom) 9 Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire).

Source Soccernet/SkySports/Sporting Life
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