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Premier League MatchDay 28 ~ Preview

last updated Monday 03rd March 2014, 2:00 PM

Premier League MatchDay 28 sees Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all away from home as the Premier League gears up for a crucial weekend of action.

DateK.O.HomeTeamAwayTeamRefereeVenue TV
01-03-1415:00EvertonWest HamJonathan Moss Goodison Park
01-03-1415:00FulhamChelseaMark Clattenburg Craven Cottage
01-03-1415:00HullNewcastleKevin Friend KC Stadium
01-03-1415:00StokeArsenalMike Jones Britannia Stadium
01-03-1417:30SouthamptonLiverpoolLee Probert St Mary's StadiumSky1
DateK.O.HomeTeamAwayTeamMatchRefereeVenue TV
02-03-1416:30Aston VillaNorwichAnthony Taylor Villa ParkSky3
02-03-1416:30SwanseaC. PalaceMike Dean Liberty Stadium
02-03-1416:30TottenhamCardiffPhil Dowd White Hart Lane
The focus will be on the title race on Saturday as current leaders Chelsea travel to bottom club Fulham, while Arsenal renew their rivalry with Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium and Liverpool visit Southampton.

Also on Saturday, Everton will be looking to keep alive their dream of a top-four finish against a rejuvenated West Ham United, and Hull City take on Newcastle United.

On Sunday afternoon three matches kick off at 4.30pm that will be vital to the relegation fight as Aston Villa host Norwich City, Swansea City tackle Crystal Palace and Cardiff City make the trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

Everton lost further ground on the top four after going down to a second straight defeat last weekend, and are now 11 points off the Champions League pace. They have also slipped behind Manchester United into seventh place and the priority for Roberto Martinez will be to return to winning ways at home to West Ham. It will not be an easy task, however, with Sam Allardyce's side surging away from trouble and into the top half on the back of four straight victories.

Premiership table - after 24th Feb 2014
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Chelsea 27 12 2 0 29 9 6 4 3 20 12 28 60
2 Arsenal 27 10 3 1 26 7 8 2 3 26 20 25 59
3 Man City 26 12 0 1 43 9 6 3 4 26 18 42 57
4 Liverpool 27 12 1 1 42 12 5 4 4 28 23 35 56
5 Tottenham 27 6 3 4 15 18 9 2 3 21 15 3 50
6 Man Utd 27 6 3 4 18 12 7 3 4 25 19 12 45
7 Everton 26 8 3 1 23 10 4 6 4 14 17 10 45
8 Newcastle 27 6 3 5 18 19 6 1 6 15 19 -5 40
9 Southampton 27 5 5 3 21 16 5 4 5 17 16 6 39
10 West Ham 27 5 3 6 20 20 3 4 6 11 14 -3 31
11 Hull 27 5 4 4 16 10 3 2 9 13 21 -2 30
12 Swansea 27 4 4 5 24 20 3 3 8 12 20 -4 28
13 Aston Villa 27 3 2 8 12 21 4 5 5 15 16 -10 28
14 Norwich 27 5 5 4 12 11 2 2 9 8 28 -19 28
15 Stoke 27 5 6 2 17 14 1 3 10 10 28 -15 27
16 C. Palace 26 6 2 6 13 17 2 0 10 5 19 -18 26
17 West Brom 27 3 7 4 16 16 1 6 6 15 23 -8 25
18 Sunderland 26 3 2 8 13 21 3 4 6 13 21 -16 24
19 Cardiff 27 4 4 6 12 22 1 3 9 7 26 -29 22
20 Fulham 27 3 1 9 16 28 3 2 9 11 31 -32 21
Chelsea are one point clear of Arsenal at the summit and will be aiming to strengthen their position this weekend when they meet West London rivals Fulham at Craven Cottage. Jose Mourinho has again been making headlines off the pitch with his comments over the past couple of weeks but Chelsea's form has not suffered, having snatched a last-gasp 1-0 win over Everton in the league and then claimed a 1-1 draw away to Galatasaray in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie. Fulham are bottom of the table and four points adrift of safety after a seven-game winless run, but there were some encouraging signs against West Bromwich Albion last time out as Felix Magath started his reign with a 1-1 draw.

Hull City face Newcastle in a battle between two teams fresh from wins last weekend. The 11th-placed Tigers also managed to follow up their 4-0 drubbing of Cardiff City with a 2-1 triumph against Brighton and Hove Albion on Monday to progress to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Newcastle, meanwhile, ended a goal drought of nearly five games to beat Aston Villa 1-0 and reach the 40-point mark.

If Chelsea do slip up against Fulham, then they could be dislodged from top spot by Arsenal who face Stoke. Arsene Wenger has described criticism of his decision to give his players a couple of days off this week as 'unbelievable', and will hope the rest period is justified by another three points to follow up their impressive 4-1 victory over Sunderland. The Gunners do not have a great record away to Stoke City, though, and the Potters are scrapping for their Premier League lives after a 1-0 defeat by Manchester City left them just three points above the drop zone.

Saturday evening sees Liverpool clash with Southampton at St Mary's. Mauricio Pochettino's Saints stunned Anfield with a 1-0 away win in September and still have an outside chance of qualifying for the Europa League, but a 3-1 defeat at West Ham last weekend dented their hopes and in-form Liverpool will be keen to exact revenge. The goals have been flowing for Brendan Rodgers' Reds this season and, after a thrilling 4-3 victory over Swansea, they have an opportunity to climb above third-placed Man City and keep the pressure on the top two.

Sunday action kicks off with Aston Villa having a chance to bounce back from that disappointment when they host Norwich. Villa are now without a win in their past four games and hover precariously just four points above the bottom three ahead of their meeting with Paul Lambert's former club. Norwich have the same number of points after boosting their survival hopes with a 1-0 success at home to Tottenham, which helped to quell speculation about the future of boss Chris Hughton.

Swansea and Crystal Palace are both in the bottom half of the table and still have a lot of work to do to guarantee top-flight status for next season. Garry Monk's Swans have a four-point cushion despite being edged out by Liverpool last weekend, but will have to recover quickly from a trip to Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday if they are to pull further clear of trouble. Palace will be looking to capitalise on any sign of fatigue and get back on track after losing 2-0 to Manchester United in a competitive encounter at Selhurst Park.

Tottenham's loss left them six points behind the Champions League places, and they must now complete the season without Jermain Defoe after he bid an emotional farewell to the Spurs fans on Thursday night ahead of his move to Toronto FC. Cardiff City are the visitors to White Hart Lane this weekend and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men are in need of a major boost after their heavy defeat at home to Hull kept them second from bottom, three points from safety.

Saturday 1 March 2014

15:00 Everton v West Ham

Everton will be looking to halt West Ham United's recent resurgence on Saturday and keep themselves in the European hunt. The Toffees sit seventh heading into the weekend, but have a game in hand on the three sides directly above them. With only five points separating them from fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, qualification for next season's Europa League remains a realistic target.

West Ham are experiencing no such troubles at present, with more points collected from their last four outings than any other team in the division. Sam Allardyce's side have achieved perfection during that run, with a sudden string of successes helping to lift them away from relegation danger.

Everton's on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku is set to return from an ankle injury after spending a month on the sidelines. Toffees captain Phil Jagielka has been ruled out for a fortnight with a hamstring injury so John Stones is likely to deputise in defence. Fellow centre-back Antolin Alcaraz is fit again and comes back into the squad after spending four weeks out but on-loan striker Lacina Traore (hamstring) is unavailable.

West Ham striker Andy Carroll returns for the Barclays Premier League trip after serving a three-match suspension. Hammers boss Sam Allardyce must decide whether to restore Carroll to the starting XI or continue with Carlton Cole up front. Forward Marco Borriello is a doubt because of a calf problem but defender Guy Demel is expected to recover from tonsillitis.

Last season: Everton 2 West Ham 0, West Ham 1 Everton 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 9; Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 7

Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)

15:00 Fulham v Chelsea

It is bottom versus top in the West London derby clash between Fulham and Chelsea on Saturday. Jose Mourinho takes his side down the King's Road to take on their neighbours Fulham in a clash which means a lot to both teams - but for very different reasons. Chelsea currently sit top of the Premier League table, a point ahead of Arsenal, and they will look to maintain their unbeaten start to 2014 at Craven Cottage.

The match is Felix Magath's first at home, after claiming a point at West Brom in his first game in charge last week. Magath's new charges are four points adrift of safety and have now not won since New Year's Day against West Ham.

Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou will be omitted from the squad for the west London derby. New boss Felix Magath insists the £12million deadline day signing is not yet ready for the intensity of the Premier League, but is fit having shrugged off a knee problem. Fernando Amorebieta and Damien Duff are in the treatment room, but Darren Bent returns after missing the West Brom match for personal reasons.

David Luiz (groin) and John Obi Mikel (calf) are among those being checked by Chelsea after their midweek match in Turkey, as is midfielder Oscar (ankle) and striker Fernando Torres. Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah were cup-tied in Europe, so should feature, but midfielder Marco van Ginkel is continuing his rehabilitation from his serious knee injury.

Last season: Fulham 0 Chelsea 3, Chelsea 0 Fulham 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Darren Bent, Steven Sidwell (Fulham) 6; Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 14

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

15:00 Hull v Newcastle

Hull will be aiming to move further clear of trouble when they play host to Newcastle on Saturday. Hull will be aiming to end a memorable week with another victory to boost their survival hopes. The Tigers are six points clear of the drop zone following their impressive 4-0 win at Cardiff last weekend

Newcastle ended an alarming slump in form last weekend with a vital 1-0 win over Aston Villa, after going four games without a goal or a win. Alan Pardew will be keen to see his side build on that victory and the return from suspension of Loic Remy proved key in the win over Villa.

Hull welcome back in-form strike duo Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long after the pair were cup-tied for the FA Cup fifth-round win over Brighton on Monday. Tom Huddlestone and Alex Bruce should also return, having missed that game with knocks. Paul McShane (ankle) and Robbie Brady (groin) are the only long-term absentees and are unlikely to be seen again this season.

Hatem Ben Arfa (undisclosed injury) and Davide Santon (knee) will be missing again for Newcastle after both sat out the 1-0 Premier League victory over Aston Villa. Central defender Fabricio Coloccini and midfielder Cheick Tiote suffered no ill-effects on their respective returns from injury, while midfielder Sylvain Marveaux will have to wait to see if he is included after apparently falling out of favour.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Robbie Brady (Hull) 4; Loic Remy (Newcastle) 12

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

15:00 Stoke v Arsenal 

Stoke City have the opportunity to make an impact on the title race on Saturday when they play host to high-flying Arsenal. The Potters could actually have a say on events at both ends of the table, as a positive result would aid their quest to steer clear of trouble. Being dragged into a basement battle has become something of a concern for those at the Britannia Stadium, with just three points separating them from the drop zone.

Arsenal have hardly been flying themselves of late, but did secure a comprehensive victory over Sunderland last time out to lift morale heading into a crucial month. The Gunners will be desperate to maintain that momentum in the Potteries, with March set to pitch them into battle against Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.

Stoke will check on the condition of Peter Odemwingie after he sustained a calf problem. Fellow Potters forward Jon Walters has missed a couple of days of training this week due to illness but is expected to be available, and striker John Guidetti is eligible once again after sitting out last weekend's defeat at his parent club Manchester City.

Mesut Ozil will return after hip trouble and a two-day rest for Arsenal's trip to the Britannia Stadium. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will leave a decision on whether or not to field fit-again defender Thomas Vermaelen at left-back to the last minute. Nacho Monreal (ankle) and Kieran Gibbs (gluteus) both remain doubtful, and if neither make it back in time for the Potters clash, Wenger could deploy Vermaelen, fully recovered from a shin problem, on the left side of his defence.

Last season: Arsenal 1 Stoke 0, Stoke 0 Arsenal 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Peter Crouch & Charlie Adam (Stoke) 8; Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 16

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

17:30 Southampton v Liverpool ~ SkySports1

Liverpool travel to Southampton on Saturday looking to keep pace with the leaders in the Premier League title race (kick-off 5.30pm). Liverpool can move into third spot in the table with victory over Saints as they look to maintain their surprise title challenge. Brendan Rodgers' men are four points behind leaders Chelsea and they make the trip to the south coast in good form, having won six and drawn two of their last eight games.

Southampton will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's disappointing defeat to West Ham, which ended a six-match unbeaten run in the Premier League. The hosts enjoy a good recent record against Liverpool having won four of their five Premier League encounters with the Reds at St Mary's, including the last three in a row.

Southampton will give defender Jos Hooiveld and midfielder Victor Wanyama as long as possible to prove their fitness. Hooiveld missed the league encounter at West Ham last weekend with an eye injury while Kenyan midfielder Wanyama is set to remain sidelined by the unspecified knock which kept him out of the squad to face the Hammers.

Defender Mamadou Sakho has returned to training after two months out with a hamstring injury but Daniel Agger will retain his place at centre-back for Liverpool. Midfielder Lucas Leiva is back working with the first-team group after a six-week absence with a knee injury but will not be considered for the weekend. Left-back Jose Enrique continues his rehabilitation from a knee operation which has sidelined him since early November.

Last season: Southampton 3 Liverpool 1, Liverpool 1 Southampton 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) 12; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 23

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Sunday 2 March 2014

16:30 Aston Villa v Norwich ~ SkySports1  

Villa have endured a disappointing run of form at Villa Park this season, winning just three of their games so far and losing eight to leave them nervously looking over their shoulders. However, Villa do enjoy a good record against Norwich, having lost just one of the last 11 Premier League games against the Canaries.

Norwich go into the encounter boosted by their impressive 1-0 victory over Tottenham last time out to ease the pressure on Chris Hughton. Hughton's men have struggled on the road this term and under him, Norwich have won just four of 32 away games.

Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood will be fit afer recovering from a dead leg. The former Crewe player had to come off during last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Newcastle but has recovered from the injury in time for the crucial clash with the Canaries. Villa manager Paul Lambert also confirmed full-back Ryan Bertrand is fit and well following a virus last weekend.

Norwich will be without midfielder Leroy Fer (hamstring), while Jonny Howson is in contention to start after recovering from two months out with a back problem. Centre-half Ryan Bennett is available following a thigh injury. On-loan winger Jonas Gutierrez (calf) is still not match-fit. Centre-back Michael Turner (hamstring) and winger Elliott Bennett (knee) both also continue their rehabilitation.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 8; Gary Hooper (Norwich) 7

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

16:30 Swansea v C. Palace

The Swans enjoyed a dream start to Garry Monk's reign as boss - with a derby victory over Cardiff City - but have now gone five games without a win in all competitions. An inability to piece together a run of positive results has seen them tumble out of the FA Cup and Europa League, while also dropping to within four points of the Premier League drop zone.

Palace are also looking to cement a standing among the elite with Tony Pulis having helped to turn their fortunes around. Three wins in five have lifted the Eagles out of the bottom three, but two defeats have ensured that they have just a two-point cushion. .

Swansea manager Garry Monk expects Nathan Dyer to be fit despite picking up a heel injury in the Europa League defeat at Napoli. Dyer came off shortly after the hour mark in the Swans' 3-1 reverse on Thursday night but Monk is confident the midfielder will be okay for the relegation clash with the Eagles. Leon Britton was rested from the Napoli game as a precaution following a knock to his knee but he is expected to return, while Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring) and Michu (ankle) remain absent.

Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis has a clean bill of health. Glenn Murray has been eased back into training this week after suffering a knock in Saturday's defeat to Manchester United and is fit to feature at the Liberty Stadium. Winger Jerome Thomas (back) is also available as Palace look for their third away league win of the campaign.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Swansea W L W D L; Crystal Palace W W L W L

Top scorers: Wilfried Bony (Swansea) 18; Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace) 6

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

16:30 Tottenham v Cardiff

Spurs, who remain fifth in the standings at present, became the first English side to secure a win in the knockout stages of this season's European competitions when they faced Dnipro on Thursday. A 3-1 victory, which saw them recover from falling behind, means they are safely through to the last-16 of the Europa League and setting their sights on continental silverware. A five-point cushion separates them from the chasing pack at present, while UEFA Champions League qualification is still there to be shot at - with fourth-placed Liverpool currently six points better off.

Cardiff are more concerned with events at the opposite end of the division, as they remain inside the bottom three. Just one Premier League victory has been secured since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer inherited the managerial reins in South Wales - with five defeats suffered during that time.

Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood has no fresh injury concerns. Brazil midfielder Sandro is in line to make his first league appearance under Sherwood having started Thursday night's Europa League win over Dnipro following a calf injury, while Kyle Walker may also feature having returned to training after recovering from a hip problem. Vlad Chiriches and Erik Lamela (both back) remain sidelined while Jermain Defoe will now link up with Toronto FC.

Striker Craig Bellamy returns to the Cardiff squad after serving a three-match suspension. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has vowed to make changes following the humiliating 4-0 home defeat to Hull last weekend and Bellamy is almost certain to be amongst those who benefit. Gary Medel could return after a recent lay-off with a thigh injury, whilst fellow midfielder Jordon Mutch is available again following a hamstring problem.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Roberto Soldado (Tottenham) 10; Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff) 8

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Source Sky/ Sporting Life
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