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Premier League MatchDay 30 Preview

last updated Saturday 16th March 2013, 8:41 PM

Premiership MatchDay 30 Fixtures
Saturday 16th March 2013
KO Home   Away Ref TV
12:45 Everton v Man City L Probert Sky2
15:00 Aston Villa v QPR K Friend  
15:00 Southampton v Liverpool P Dowd  
15:00 Stoke v West Brom M Dean  
15:00 Swansea v Arsenal J Moss  
17:30 Man Utd v Reading M Clattenburg ESPN
Sunday 17th March 2013
13:30 Sunderland v Norwich C Foy Sky1
15:00 Tottenham v Fulham M Jones  
16:00 Chelsea v West Ham M Oliver  
16:00 Wigan v Newcastle M Halsey Sky1
Premier League MatchDay 30 kicks off on Saturday with Manchester City making the testing trip to face Everton at Goodison Park knowing only a victory will suffice to keep their Premier League title hopes alive. Anything less than a win for the champions will therefore further diminish what are already slim hopes of retaining their title.

Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers meet in the archetypal six-point Premier League clash on Saturday at Villa Park. Both teams come into the game on the back of wins, as Villa grabbed three points at Reading whilst QPR beat Sunderland.

Liverpool will arrive at St Mary's buoyed by a three-match winning run with Southampton looking to edge clear of trouble on Saturday. The Reds have fired themselves back into the hunt for European qualification, with there still an outside chance that they could force their way into the top four.

Stoke City will be eager to snap out of an alarming slump when they welcome West Bromwich Albion to the Britannia Stadium. A run of one win in 10 desperately needs to be addressed, with seven setbacks suffered during that stumble. West Brom have collected three wins in their last four to cement their standing inside the top 10 and keep themselves in the hunt for possible European qualification.

Premiership table - after 10th 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 29 8 4 2 22 14 8 2 5 29 22 15 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 Liverpool 29 8 3 4 30 14 4 6 4 26 22 20 45
7 Everton 28 7 6 1 25 17 4 6 4 19 18 9 45
8 West Brom 29 9 2 4 23 14 4 2 8 17 24 2 43
9 Swansea 29 6 6 2 27 19 4 4 7 13 17 4 40
10 Fulham 28 6 3 5 22 17 2 6 6 17 27 -5 33
11 Stoke 29 6 6 2 18 15 1 6 8 9 20 -8 33
12 West Ham 28 6 4 4 23 17 3 2 9 9 24 -9 33
13 Newcastle 29 8 1 6 23 21 1 5 8 17 29 -10 33
14 Norwich 29 6 6 3 16 15 1 6 7 11 30 -18 33
15 Sunderland 29 4 5 5 16 15 3 4 8 16 26 -9 30
16 Southampton 29 4 5 5 19 17 2 5 8 20 34 -12 28
17 Aston Villa 29 3 4 7 11 20 3 5 7 17 34 -26 27
18 Wigan 28 2 4 8 17 31 4 2 8 16 24 -22 24
19 Reading 29 4 6 5 23 29 1 2 11 12 27 -21 23
20 QPR 29 2 7 6 11 22 2 4 8 13 23 -21 23
Arsenal will aim to get their bid for a top-four finish back on track at Swansea, after bowing out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek. The Gunners produced a battling performance in a seemingly hopeless cause to beat Bayern 2-0 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, but they were knocked out on away goals after a 3-1 defeat at Emirates Stadium. The Gunners now travel to a Swansea City side still celebrating their Capital One Cup success last month, and their sole focus for the remainder of the season will be finishing in the top four.

Managerless Reading face the daunting prospect of visiting Premier League leaders Manchester United on Saturday. Reading come into the match having lost their last four league matches, while United are on five-match winning streak. This should be a regulation win for United against the second-bottom side who have just sacked their manager.

Premier League MatchDay 30 continues on Sunday when Sunderland and Norwich head into their weekend encounter in need of points. The Black Cats find themselves in the stickier situation at present, with a six-match winless run having arrived at a bad time. Norwich are only one place better off than their Sunday opponents, but they have collected three more points and will feel slightly more comfortable.

Tottenham Hotspur will be looking to return to winning ways against London rivals Fulham and boost their hopes of UEFA Champions League qualification. Spurs have suffered two dramatic defeats this week after losing 3-2 to Liverpool in the Premier League and then going down to Inter Milan in the Europa League, although a 4-1 reverse after extra time in Italy still carried them through to the quarter-finals on away goals. Fulham are comfortably placed in mid-table with nine games remaining and should have no reason to worry about relegation with a nine-point cushion over the drop zone.

Chelsea will be hoping for derby day success when they welcome capital rivals West Ham United to Stamford Bridge. The Blues, for all of their perceived troubles, remain inside the Premier League's top four and on course to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. They will, however, be aware that they have little margin for error, with the chasing pack having closed to within five points. West Ham sit nine points clear of the drop zone at present, but know they could be dragged back into a basement battle if they start to relax.

Newcastle go into the game with Wigan Athletic after progressing to the last eight of the Europa League with a last-gasp win over Anzhi Makhachkala on Thursday. Newcastle have hauled themselves out of immediate relegation danger with a timely run of four wins from their last six league games. Roberto Martinez's side have been in poor form of late in the Premier League - winning only one of their last eight matches and losing four

Saturday 16th March 2013

12:45 - Everton (7) v Man City (2) Sky2

Everton and Manchester City get proceedings under way on Saturday lunchtime - in a game which can be seen live on Sky Sports 2HD - with both sides in need of points to aid their respective quests towards the top of the table. Everton remain in the hunt for a European place, but have won just two of their last seven to drop off the pace. They put in a disappointing FA Cup display last time out, seeing them tumble out at the quarter-final stage at home to Wigan, and have seen arch-rivals Liverpool edge above them in the top-flight standings. David Moyes will be determined to see his side right a few wrongs against City. The reigning champions head to Merseyside with their crown starting to slip and know they cannot afford any more wobbles in their efforts to close a 12-point gap on leaders Manchester United.

Everton will again be without goalkeeper Tim Howard and defender Phil Jagielka. Howard broke two bones in his back last month and Jan Mucha will continue to deputise, while Jagielka is recovering from surgery to repair a cut to his ankle. Boss David Moyes will assess a couple of other players who picked up knocks in the defeat by Wigan last weekend while full-back Tony Hibbert (calf) may not play again this season.

City are again without captain Vincent Kompany and striker Sergio Aguero - defender Kompany, who has missed the last seven games, continues to be troubled by calf issues while Aguero is in Argentina for treatment on the knee problem that has already sidelined him for two matches. Right-backs Micah Richards and Maicon (both knee) and midfielder Jack Rodwell (hamstring) remain on the long-term casualty list.

Last season: Everton 1 Man City 0, Man City 2 Everton 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Marouane Fellaini (Everton) 12; Carlos Tevez (Man City) 15

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

15:00 - Aston Villa (17) v QPR (20)

Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers are also scrapping for their Premier League lives, and they will go head-to-head in a potentially pivotal encounter on Saturday. Villa saw off another fellow struggler in the form of Reading last weekend and that success has their head back above water. QPR have also begun to show signs that they are capable of clawing their way to safety, with Harry 'Houdini' Redknapp beginning to work his magic. The Rs have seen off Southampton and Sunderland in their past two outings to secure back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since December 1995. They are now only four points from safety and suddenly feeling much better about themselves.

Villa manager Paul Lambert has no fresh injury worries but striker Darren Bent (foot) and midfielder Karim El Ahmadi (ankle) are still ruled out along with long-term casualties Chris Herd, Marc Albrighton, Richard Dunne and Gary Gardner. Midfielder Fabian Delph will complete a two-game ban after collecting his 10th yellow card of the campaign during the 1-0 home defeat by Manchester City.

QPR boss Harry Redknapp will be able to call upon key duo Adel Taarabt and Julio Cesar, who have trained this week after missing the win over Sunderland with knocks. Full-back Armand Traore is the only major worry and was due to have a calf injury assessed in training today.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 19; Loic Remy (QPR) 6

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

15:00 - Southampton (16) v Liverpool (6)

Liverpool have hauled themselves back into the hunt for European qualification, with three straight victories seeing them into sixth spot - seven points adrift of the top four. Momentum is crucial at this stage of the season and the Reds will fancy that their recent form makes them strong favourites to collect another three points from their trip to lowly Southampton. The Saints have won only one of their last eight to remain firmly entrenched in a relegation battle. Just four points separate them from the drop zone, and they need to start stringing results together quickly if they are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Southampton have a clean bill of health. Danny Fox and Steven Davis were the only absentees in last weekend's 0-0 draw at Norwich but could feature for Mauricio Pochettino's side at St Mary's. Vegard Forren played for the under-21s again on Monday so is a step closer to fitness.

Liverpool will make a late assessment on the fitness of goalkeeper Jose Reina, who missed last weekend's win over Tottenham with a calf injury. Midfielder Joe Allen has a shoulder problem but it will not prevent him being included in the squad.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 12; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 29

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

15:00 - Stoke (11) v West Brom (8)

West Bromwich Albion are also hoping to end the season inside the top 10, with a return to form over recent weeks offering them every chance of hitting that target. Three wins in four have Steve Clarke's side heading in the right direction again and a push for Europe may not be beyond them if they can maintain their current level of performance. Stoke City are unlikely to be relishing a meeting with the Baggies, with Tony Pulis' side stuck in an alarming slump. The Potters have suffered three defeats in a row, and seven in their last nine, to undo much of the good work they put in prior to the turn of the year.

Stoke winger Matthew Etherington has missed the last two games with a back problem and is again touch and go while striker Cameron Jerome is likely to be on the bench after being forced off with a knock to his knee in last weekend's defeat by Newcastle. Defender Robert Huth serves the final game of a three-match ban so full-back Marc Wilson will again deputise alongside captain Ryan Shawcross in the centre.

West Brom striker Shane Long is still struggling with an ankle injury and right-back Steven Reid is also doubtful due to a groin problem. Head coach Steve Clarke has no new injuries to deal with.

Last season: Stoke 1 West Brom 2, West Brom 0 Stoke 1

Last five league matches: Stoke L W L L L; West Brom L W W L W Top scorers: Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 9; Romelu Lukaku (West Brom) 13

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

15:00 - Swansea (9) v Arsenal (5)

Arsenal should also be full of positivity this weekend following a much-improved showing against Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The Gunners may have bowed out of the UEFA Champions League on German soil, but a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Arena suggests those who have been quick to write Arsene Wenger's side off may be forced to eat their words. Another trophyless season beckons at the Emirates, but bridging a five-point gap and retaining their place at European football's top table remains a realistic target. Their weekend opponents Swansea City have managed to claim major silverware this season, but need to put their Capital One Cup heroics to the back of their mind and knuckle down in the pursuit of a top-half finish.

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup hopes to have midfielder Leon Britton available after a hip injury, while Luke Moore is set to shake off a calf problem. Chico Flores (ankle) and Kemy Agustien (thigh) are again absent, but there is encouraging news for Neil Taylor after the left-back made his return from a broken and dislocated ankle for the Under-21s yesterday.

Arsenal will rest left-back Kieran Gibbs, who has just returned from a thigh injury, while Nacho Monreal is available after being cup-tied in the Champions League. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and captain Thomas Vermaelen are in contention having sat out the 2-0 win in Bayern Munich but England midfielder Jack Wilshere and striker Lukas Podolski (both ankle) are still out, as is full-back Bacary Sagna (knee).

Last season: Swansea 3 Arsenal 2, Arsenal 1 Swansea 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Michu (Swansea) 19; Theo Walcott (Arsenal) 18

Referee: Jon Moss.

17:30 - Man Utd (1) v Reading (19) ESPN

The final fixture on Saturday will see Manchester United looking to take another positive step towards reclaiming the Premier League title. The Red Devils have opened up a commanding lead at the summit, but Sir Alex Ferguson will not allow his side to take their foot off the gas until silverware is safely tucked away in the trophy cabinet. United have won their last five, and 14 of their last 16, to underline their domestic dominance in 2012/13. Attempting to put a rare dent in the Red Devils' title charge this weekend will be Reading, who head to Old Trafford under the guidance of caretaker coach Eammon Dolan. The Royals opted to part company with McDermott in the wake of a morale-sapping setback against Aston Villa and have just nine games in which to save their season - with four straight defeats leaving them four points from safety.

Nani and Phil Jones both miss out for United - winger Nani injured his hamstring against Chelsea last weekend, while the versatile Jones has been out since damaging his ankle in the FA Cup clash with the Royals four weeks ago. Midfielder Paul Scholes (knee) is also missing for the home side.

Reading will again be without goalkeeper Adam Federici (ankle), meaning third-choice Stuart Taylor will again deputise. Caretaker boss Eamonn Dolan will also be without winger Jimmy Kebe (groin) and suspended striker Pavel Pogrebnyak but fellow striker Jason Roberts (hip) is likely to miss the rest of the season.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Man Utd W W W W W; Reading W L L L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 23; Nick Blackman (Reading) 14

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Sunday 17th March February 2013

13:30 - Sunderland (15) v Norwich (14) Sky1

Sunderland and Norwich City will open up a Super Sunday double-header on Sky Sports. A six-match winless run has the Black Cats looking anxiously over their shoulder once more, with only a six-point cushion keeping them clear of the relegation trapdoor. Martin O'Neill desperately needs to turn things around, starting in a home date against his former employers. Norwich will travel to the Stadium of Light just one place and three points above their opponents. Just one win since 22nd December tells its own story for the Canaries and Chris Hughton will need no reminding that his side are not safe yet - despite having collected as many points as tenth-placed Fulham.

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will make a late check on full-back Danny Rose, who returned to first-team action as a substitute in the defeat at QPR and reported a little tightness in the hamstring which had sidelined him for the previous two games. Striker Connor Wickham has returned from his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday and winger James McClean, who missed the Loftus Road match through illness, could figure - but skipper Lee Cattermole (knee) is still sidelined.

Republic of Ireland forward Anthony Pilkington faces two to three weeks out with a hamstring injury and will miss out for Norwich. Midfielder Alex Tettey (knee) is expected to return following the international break at Wigan on March 30 and England goalkeeper John Ruddy will resume full training at the end of this month, while winger Andrew Surman (knee) is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Last season: Sunderland 3 Norwich 0, Norwich 2 Sunderland 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) 11; Grant Holt(Norwich) 5

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

15:00 - Tottenham (3) v Fulham (10)

The Cottagers face another tough away test on Sunday when they make the short journey from west to north London to face high-flying Tottenham Hotspur, a side still pushing hard for a top-three finish and top billing in the capital. Spurs have suffered just two defeats on home soil this season, and only two sides can better their defensive record in front of their own supporters. The size of the challenge facing his side will not be lost on Martin Jol, with the former Spurs boss fully aware of how difficult it can be for visitors at White Hart Lane. Fulham have, however, moved into the top-half of the table on the back of a three-match unbeaten run and should be in optimistic mood.

Tottenham forward Gareth Bale returns to the squad after sitting out the trip to Inter Milan due to suspension. Winger Aaron Lennon should return to the starting line-up after he came off the bench in Milan following his recovery from a hamstring injury. Former Fulham forward Clint Dempsey (calf) is expected to be available, but defender Younes Kaboul and midfielder Sandro (both knee) are out.

Fulham boss Martin Jol has an unchanged squad. Steve Sidwell has shaken off a knock but fellow midfielder Mahamadou Diarra is still missing with a knee injury which could rule him out for the rest of the season.

Last season: Tottenham 2 Fulham 0, Fulham 1 Tottenham 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Gareth Bale (Tottenham) 21; Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham) 10

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire).

16:00 - Chelsea (4) v West Ham (12)

Rafa Benitez's struggles as interim coach of Chelsea were not helped by an early defeat to West Ham United, and the Blues will take in a return date with their capital rivals on Sunday. The Hammers prevailed 3-1 at Upton Park back in December and will be looking to complete their first double over Chelsea in 10 years. Benitez's men cannot afford to suffer another hiccup, as they cling to fourth place, and will look to take plenty of positives from the fact that they have won their last three league games at Stamford Bridge. The Hammers, meanwhile, are edging their way towards the fabled 40-point mark and top-flight safety.

Demba Ba could return up front for Chelsea in place of Fernando Torres - Ba was ineligible for the Europa League defeat of Steaua Bucharest, when Torres scored the decisive goal, missed a late penalty and suffered a bloody nose. Frank Lampard, who was an unused substitute against the Romanians, could feature against his former club with the midfielder eyeing his 200th Chelsea goal. Long-term injury victim Oriol Romeu (knee) is the only definite absentee.

West Ham look set to be without captain Kevin Nolan, who suffered a broken toe last month and is yet to return to training. Mark Noble (arm) is also absent and Joe Cole (hamstring) a major doubt to face his old club. Matthew Taylor is in contention after recovering from concussion and defender George McCartney could also be involved after three months out with a knee problem.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Demba Ba & Juan Mata (Chelsea) 17; Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 6

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

16:00 - Wigan (18) v Newcastle (13) Sky1

The final game of the weekend sees Wigan Athletic welcome Newcastle United to the DW Stadium. The Latics hammered the Magpies 4-0 on home soil last season as they pulled off a remarkable survival charge. They will be hoping for more of the same 12 months on, with Roberto Martinez's side finding themselves locked in another relegation scrap. The Latics sit inside the bottom three, three points adrift of 17th place. Newcastle have claimed four wins in six to pull clear of trouble, but could be dragged back into a dogfight if they fail to end the season with a flourish.

Wigan forward Callum McManaman is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup win at Everton and is rated doubtful. Winger Ryo Miyaichi has been ruled out for several weeks at least as he requires surgery on damaged ankle ligaments but goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, rested last weekend, is set to return to the starting line-up.

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa is out - the France international will miss the rest of the season if, as manager Alan Pardew fears, he needs an operation on the hamstring he tore in December. However compatriot Yohan Cabaye has a chance of playing despite limping out of the Europa League victory over Anzhi Makhachkala, while full-back Mathieu Debuchy and striker Yoan Gouffran, who are ineligible in Europe, return to the squad.

Last season: Wigan 4 Newcastle 0, Newcastle 1 Wigan 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Arouna Kone (Wigan) 10; Papiss Cisse (Newcastle) 7

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

Source SkySports/Sporting Life
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