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Premier League MatchDay 29 Preview

last updated Friday 08th March 2013, 11:32 PM

Premiership MatchDay 29 Fixtures
Saturday 9th March 2013
KO Home   Away Ref TV
15:00 Norwich v Southampton M Clattenburg  
15:00 QPR v Sunderland M Jones  
15:00 Reading v Aston Villa J Moss  
15:00 West Brom v Swansea L Mason  
Sunday 10th March 2013
15:00 Newcastle v Stoke A Marriner  
16:00 Liverpool v Tottenham M Oliver Sky1
Premier League MatchDay 29 kicks off on Saturday with Southampton having the chance to put more distance between themselves and relegation at Norwich on Saturday. Mauricio Pochettino's Saints will be out to widen that gap but Chris Hughton's men will be looking to secure their top-flight status.

Queens Park Rangers continue their battle against relegation when Sunderland make the trip to Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon. Recent history favours the visitors, as Sunderland are unbeaten in 11 league games against QPR since April 1991.

Premiership table - after 4th Mar 2013
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man Utd 28 13 0 1 38 15 10 2 2 30 16 37 71
2 Man City 28 10 3 1 31 11 7 5 2 20 13 27 59
3 Tottenham 28 8 4 2 22 14 8 2 4 27 19 16 54
4 Chelsea 28 8 4 2 31 12 7 3 4 25 18 26 52
5 Arsenal 28 8 3 3 35 19 5 5 4 18 13 21 47
6 Everton 28 7 6 1 25 17 4 6 4 19 18 9 45
7 Liverpool 28 7 3 4 27 12 4 6 4 26 22 19 42
8 Swansea 28 6 6 2 27 19 4 4 6 12 15 5 40
9 West Brom 28 8 2 4 21 13 4 2 8 17 24 1 40
10 Fulham 28 6 3 5 22 17 2 6 6 17 27 -5 33
11 Stoke 28 6 6 2 18 15 1 6 7 8 18 -7 33
12 West Ham 28 6 4 4 23 17 3 2 9 9 24 -9 33
13 Norwich 28 6 5 3 16 15 1 6 7 11 30 -18 32
14 Sunderland 28 4 5 5 16 15 3 4 7 15 23 -7 30
15 Newcastle 28 7 1 6 21 20 1 5 8 17 29 -11 30
16 Southampton 28 4 5 5 19 17 2 4 8 20 34 -12 27
17 Wigan 28 2 4 8 17 31 4 2 8 16 24 -22 24
18 Aston Villa 28 3 4 7 11 20 2 5 7 15 33 -27 24
19 Reading 28 4 6 4 22 27 1 2 11 12 27 -20 23
20 QPR 28 1 7 6 8 21 2 4 8 13 23 -23 20
Aston Villa travel to Reading in a match that will do much to determine the Premier League future of both sides. The game certainly meets the cliched definition of 'six-pointer', and both managers will know that defeat would leave little doubt as to the severity of their situations.

West Brom and Swansea will both be hoping to close the gap on the top six when they meet on Saturday at The Hawthorns. Both sides have collected an identical number of points this season, and can be labelled as the Premier League's surprise packages of this term under new managers.

Premier League MatchDay 29 continues on Sunday at Newcastle who will be hoping their gradual upturn in fortunes continues when they face Stoke in the Premier League at St James' Park on Sunday. The Magpies are now six points clear of the relegation zone. Stoke, in contrast, are aiming to turn their form around after taking just two wins from 11 matches since the start of the year.

High-flying Tottenham make the trip to Liverpool on Sunday looking to stretch their four-match winning run. Liverpool are likely to be wary of the in-form Londoners but can take comfort from their own resurgence, with back-to-back wins

Saturday 9th March 2013

15:00 - Norwich (13) v Southampton (16)  

Norwich City boast an eight-point cushion on the bottom three, but they could easily be hauled back in should the strugglers find a bit of form. Taking that into account, they will be desperate to move a step closer to the fabled 40-point mark at Carrow Road on Saturday, while forcing one of those currently in and around them deeper into the mire. Southampton have been unable to edge themselves clear of trouble all season, and a record which has seen them collect just 10 points on the road does not bode well ahead of their trip to Norfolk.

On-loan Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara is pressing for a place in Norwich's starting XI after some impressive displays as a substitute. England goalkeeper John Ruddy continues his rehabilitation from thigh surgery and is set for a return at the end of March, but knee injuries sideline winger Andrew Surman and midfielder Alex Tettey.

Southampton will check on the fitness of Adam Lallana and Danny Fox, who were forced off during last Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to QPR with neck and quadriceps complaints respectively. Luke Shaw was limited to a substitute appearance in that game due to a recent thigh problem.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Luciano Becchio (Norwich) 18; Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 12

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

15:00 - QPR (20) v Sunderland (14)  

Queens Park Rangers remain rooted to the foot of the division heading into the weekend, but a crucial victory over Southampton last time out means they are now within sight of safety. Four points separate Harry Redknapp's men from 17th spot, and they could take a sizeable step towards bridging that gap in a home date with Sunderland. The Black Cats will arrive at Loftus Road perched six points above the drop zone, but without a win in five and looking anxiously over their shoulder.

QPR boss Harry Redknapp will make a late decision on the fitness of Julio Cesar and Bobby Zamora. Brazil goalkeeper Cesar had to be replaced in the second half of last weekend's 2-1 win at Southampton and Robert Green is on standby to deputise once more. Zamora remains doubtful with an ankle injury.

Matthew Kilgallon and Danny Rose are set to ease Martin O'Neill's personnel worries by returning to the Sunderland squad. Defender Kilgallon missed last week's draw with Fulham due to illness, while Rose could also figure after coming through a training match this week following a hamstring strain. Connor Wickham will not be available despite his likely recall from a loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday.

Last season: Sunderland 3 QPR 1, QPR 2 Sunderland 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Loic Remy & Bobby Zamora (QPR) 5; Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 10

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

15:00 - Reading (19) v Aston Villa (18) 

Reading and Aston Villa are in danger of going under. Both occupy a standing inside the relegation zone and both know the clock is ticking. Reading have slumped back to second-from-bottom, with three straight defeats doing little to aid their cause. Villa, meanwhile, sit 18th, with just one win having been secured since the middle of December. Only goal difference is keeping them inside the bottom three, but the importance of taking something - anything - from their visit to the Madejski Stadium will not be lost on Paul Lambert and his young side.

Reading's third-choice goalkeeper Stuart Taylor will face his former club with Adam Federici (ankle) and Alex McCarthy (shoulder) sidelined. Jimmy Kebe is also a doubt while Pavel Pogrebnyak serves the second of his three-game ban and fellow striker Jason Roberts (hip) misses out.

Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph begins a two-game ban after collecting his 10th yellow card of the campaign during Monday's 1-0 home defeat against Manchester City. Villa boss Paul Lambert is hopeful captain Ron Vlaar will recover from the calf injury that has ruled him out of the last two games, but striker Darren Bent (foot) is again set to miss out.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Nick Blackman (Reading) 14; Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 18

Referee: Jon Moss

15:00 - West Brom (9) v Swansea (8)  

West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City look set to enjoy a Saturday afternoon stroll. The Baggies have done enough to ensure that they will remain at English football's top table for at least another year, with their efforts over the first half of the season keeping them inside the top 10. Swansea have picked up as many points from their 28 games to date as their weekend opponents and have the Capital One Cup safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet. The Swans will feel that a top-five finish is still there to be shot at, but will also be aware that The Hawthorns has been an unhappy hunting ground for many of their rivals this season.

West Brom midfielder Brunt has recovered from the ankle injury which kept him out of the 1-0 defeat at Chelsea last weekend while on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku is back after being ineligible to play against his parent club. Left-back Goran Popov has served a three-game ban but striker Shane Long is an injury worry with a recurrence of an ankle problem.

Swansea midfielder Kemy Agustien will miss out with thigh injury while defender Chico Flores is still a few weeks away from returning from ruptured ankle ligaments. Garry Monk deputised for Flores against Newcastle last weekend, while manager Michael Laudrup must mull over whether to again start with Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge in behind top scorer Michu.

Last season: West Brom 1 Swansea 2, Swansea 3 West Brom 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Romelu Lukaku (West Brom) 12; Michu (Swansea) 19

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Sunday 10th March February 2013

15:00 - Newcastle (15) v Stoke (11)  

The first of two fixtures on Sunday sees Newcastle United play host to Stoke City. The Magpies will go into the game on the back of an energy-sapping midweek trip to Russia in the Europa League, but know they cannot afford to write any games off at this stage. Having suggested that Norwich and Sunderland remain in a relegation dogfight, Newcastle must also be included in that particular mix.

A frustrating, and disappointing, campaign has them just six points clear of the trapdoor, but slowly finding their feet after collecting three wins in their last five. Stoke would appear to be safe, but have an alarming dip in form to address. Tony Pulis' Potters have taken maximum points from just one of their last nine top-flight matches, having previously looked like decent bets to end the campaign inside the top half.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will hope to have striker Papiss Cisse back in the fold after illness. Full-back Mathieu Debuchy and striker Yoan Gouffran, who were ineligible against Anzhi Makhachkala in the Europa League, will be available once again, as will midfielder Jonas Gutierrez. Skipper Fabricio Coloccini (back) is out for up to seven weeks and keeper Tim Krul continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

Stoke boss Tony Pulis is hoping Matthew Etherington could be fit for the trip to St James' Park after injections to combat a back injury. Robert Huth serves the second game of a three-match ban so Marc Wilson is likely to deputise in the centre of defence again, while striker Michael Owen (thigh) is fit and will be desperate to get a chance against his old club.

Last season: Newcastle 3 Stoke 0, Stoke 1 Newcastle 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Yoan Gouffran (Newcastle) 13; Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 8

Referee: Andre Marriner

16:00 - Liverpool (7) v Tottenham (3)  

MatchDay 29 goes to Anfield for the final game of the weekend, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur locking horns in what promises to be another entertaining encounter at the business end of the Premier League standings.

Liverpool have picked up back-to-back wins to keep themselves in the hunt for a European spot - scoring nine goals in the process and conceding none. Luis Suarez has once again been their talisman this season, with the Uruguayan frontman having burst through the 20-goal mark and to the top of the scoring charts. He will, however, come up against another leading light on Merseyside this weekend, with Spurs' Gareth Bale in the form of his life at present. The Welsh winger is on a remarkable scoring run and plenty will be made of his efforts to try and outshine Suarez - with both men considered to be leading contenders for the 2013 PFA Player of the Year award.

Striker Daniel Sturridge and defender Martin Skrtel will both return from injury for Liverpool. Sturridge has overcome a thigh problem which kept him out of last weekend's 4-0 win at Wigan and is likely to regain his spot in the side. Skrtel also returned to training this week after a knee injury but he will have to settle for a place on the bench.

Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon is a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury in last night's win over Inter Milan. Midfielder Mousa Dembele is expected to be fit despite coming off in the second half while Emmanuel Adebayor will return to the squad after a knee injury. Tom Huddlestone (knee) and Clint Dempsey (calf) are doubts, but Younes Kaboul and Sandro (both knee) are definitely unavailable.

Last season: Liverpool 0 Tottenham 0, Tottenham 4 Liverpool 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 28; Gareth Bale (Tottenham) 20

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Source SkySports/Sporting Life
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