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Premier League MatchDay 7 - Preview

last updated Saturday 05th October 2013, 11:35 AM

Premier League MatchDay 7 kicks off at 12:45 on Saturday with Man City attempting to redeem themselves, from their poor showing in the Champions League, against an Everton side that has fought it's way into fourth spot.

The other half of Manchester are also under pressure to do better after their home defeat against West Brom left them in the bottom half of the table.

Table topping Arsenal have an away trip to confident West Brom while joint second placed Tottenham face a fiery London derby with West Ham who also need the points.

Liverpool seem, on the surface, to have the easiest day at the office with the visit of Crystal Palace while Chelsea and Aston Villa both have difficult away games.

Elsewhere Fulham welcome Stoke for an early relegation battle that could decide the fate of either manager.

Saturday 5th October 2013

12:45 Manchester City (7) v Everton (4) BTSport

The weekend's action gets under way at the Etihad Stadium - the scene of a midweek UEFA Champions League mauling for Manchester City at the hands of Bayern Munich. A 3-1 reversal against the German giants came on the back of a 3-2 defeat by Aston Villa in the league, so Manuel Pellegrini needs to show that a dominant display in the Manchester derby, which earned widespread praise, was no flash in the pan.

City will, however, have their work cut out on Saturday lunchtime when they play host to an Everton side still unbeaten in the league and going in search of a fifth victory in their last seven visits to the blue half of Manchester.

Manchester City are close to full strength. Midfielder Jack Rodwell will miss out against his former club after a recent knock but is back in training and nearing a return. Striker Stevan Jovetic has also had a minor issue but will be available, meaning defender Martin Demichelis (knee) is the only long-term absentee.

On-loan midfielder Gareth Barry is ineligible to face his parent club. Darron Gibson could be a made-to-measure the replacement but manager Roberto Martinez is unsure whether he will be fit as he is still suffering after-effects from a knee injury. Forward Kevin Mirallas (ankle) is rated 50-50 while it is still too early for Steven Pienaar to return from a hamstring injury.

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

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

Top scorers: Yaya Toure (Manchester City) 6; Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 3

Referee: Jon Moss.

Verdict: Manchester City 1 Everton 1

15:00 Cardiff (11) v Newcastle (16)

Newcastle United are another side in need of a spark and will be looking to get their season back on track against Cardiff City. Inconsistency continues to plague the Magpies, with Alan Pardew's men unable to string together a run of positive results. Back-to-back defeats have sent them tumbling to 16th spot, with their back four breached on three occasions against both Hull City and Everton. Plugging the defensive leaks is essential, even if Cardiff have hardly been razor sharp this season.

The Bluebirds have, however, made a steady start to life back in the big time and have already put in solid displays on home soil against Manchester City, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Cardiff manager Malky Mackay has almost a full squad to select from. Andreas Cornelius, who continues to be hindered by a niggling ankle problem, is the only absentee. Midfielder Jordon Mutch is pushing for a place after his stunning winner at Fulham last week, but Mackay is expected to stick with the same starting line-up.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has reported a clean bill of health. Yohan Cabaye was used as a substitute in Monday's defeat at Everton amid concerns over his fitness, but Pardew expects him to be ready to start on Saturday if required. Striker Shola Ameobi has recovered from flu and he, defender Steven Taylor and midfielder Jonas Gutierrez (both hamstring) could return to contention.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff) 2; Loic Remy (Newcastle) 3

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Verdict: Cardiff 1 Newcastle 2

15:00 Fulham (18) v Stoke (15)

Mark Hughes will return to familiar surroundings with Stoke City determined to make life a little more uncomfortable for the man who succeeded him as Fulham boss, Martin Jol. The odds on the Dutchman being the next Premier League manager to lose his job continue to shorten, with the Cottagers having stumbled their way out of the blocks. Four defeats in five and only four goals scored in six outings is not the kind of return Fulham's new owner Shahid Khan will have been expecting and it remains to be seen how patient he is prepared to be.

Hughes does not have things much easier at Stoke, with the Potters having taken one point from their last three games, but he will not have an expectant home support on his back at Craven Cottage this weekend.

Fulham will be without midfielder Scott Parker because of a calf problem. Defender Aaron Hughes (thigh) is still not match fit, while goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg continues his recovery from a shoulder problem. Midfielder Ashkan Dejagah (calf) is also still sidelined along with defender Matthew Briggs (hernia).

Forward Jonathan Walters is Stoke's only injury doubt. The Republic of Ireland international suffered a groin injury in the loss to Norwich last week and will be assessed. Midfielder Matthew Etherington did not feature against the Canaries after suffering whiplash in a car accident but he is available.

Last season: Fulham 1 Stoke 0, Stoke 1 Fulham 0

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

Top scorers: Darren Bent (Fulham) 2; Kenwyne Jones (Stoke) 3

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Verdict: Fulham 1 Stoke 0

15:00 Hull (8) v Aston Villa (9)

Hull City will be delighted with the start they have made since re-joining the elite, with pre-season predictions of relegation struggles having been knocked on the head - for now at least. Steve Bruce will look at a 10-point return as being a quarter of the way to top-flight safety, and there are still 32 games to come. The first of those arrives on Saturday, with the Tigers returning to the KC Stadium for a meeting with Aston Villa.

Paul Lambert's side have been going okay themselves this term, winning half of their six games so far, and will be aiming to make it three victories in a row when they make the trip to East Yorkshire.

Hull are without their leading scorer Robbie Brady after the Republic of Ireland international underwent a hernia operation on Wednesday. Brady is out for around four weeks, joining long-term absentees Robert Koren (fractured foot) and James Chester (hamstring) on the sidelines. Stephen Quinn or George Boyd will replace Brady, while fit-again Paul McShane could replace Abdoulaye Faye at centre-half.

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Westwood could return from recent injuries for Aston Villa. Striker Agbonlahor's recent run of form has been interrupted by an ankle issue while midfielder Westwood has been out with a thigh problem. Manager Paul Lambert will be without striker Christian Benteke (hip) while defender Jores Okore (cruciate ligament) and midfielder Charles N'Zogbia (Achilles) are long-term absentees.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Robbie Brady (Hull) 4; Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 5

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Verdict: Hull 1 Aston Villa 1

15:00 Liverpool (2) v Crystal Palace (19)

Second-placed Liverpool will have their sights locked on a return to the Premier League summit. With Arsenal not in action until Sunday, the Reds know victory over Crystal Palace will put them back on the loftiest of perches. With Luis Suarez back among the goals and looking sharp following his return from suspension, and with Daniel Sturridge having netted five times in six league outings, Brendan Rodgers will feel that a sustained push for the title could be on the cards.

Palace will be hoping to play party poopers this weekend, but Ian Holloway's side have already been overturned in five of their six fixtures so far and have gone 22 years since they last collected three points at Anfield.

Lucas Leiva is suspended for the visit of Crystal Palace so Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has to find a replacement in central midfield. Jordan Henderson, who has operated predominantly on the right this season, is the most likely candidate to switch to the central holding role. Depending on which formation Rodgers opts for, that could mean an opening for the likes of Martin Kelly, Raheem Sterling or Luis Alberto.

Yannick Bolasie could make his first appearance of the season when Crystal Palace head to Liverpool. The winger has recovered from a torn hamstring, while defender Damien Delaney should also be in the squad after shaking off an ankle knock. Manager Ian Holloway revealed two of his starting XI from the 2-0 defeat at Southampton last week are set to miss out through injury, although he would not specify the players concerned.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) 7; Marouane Chamakh, Danny Gabbidon, Owen Garvan, Dwight Gayle & Stuart O'Keefe (Crystal Palace) 1

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

Verdict: Liverpool 2 Crystal Palace 0

17:30 Sunderland (20) v Manchester United (12) Sky 1

Saturday's last game will feature the second of Manchester's title hopefuls, with United travelling to managerless and winless Sunderland. David Moyes saw a dogged display on Ukrainian soil against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday ease some of the pressure which has built on the back of successive defeats - and three setbacks in four - in the league. The Red Devils are unaccustomed to occupying a standing in the bottom half of the table and will be desperate to start righting a few wrongs.

Sunderland could well do without a visit from a wounded United side, as they continue to prop up the table - with just one point taken from a possible 18. They remain under the caretaker charge of Kevin Ball for now, with a successor to the ousted Paolo Di Canio yet to be appointed.

Striker Fabio Borini returns to the Sunderland squad having been ineligible for Sunday's home defeat by parent club Liverpool under the terms of his loan agreement. Caretaker manager Kevin Ball has no fresh injury worries with striker Steven Fletcher continuing his recovery from a dislocated shoulder, while defenders Wes Brown (calf) and Andrea Dossena (thigh) work their way back to full fitness.

Manchester United manager David Moyes will check on the fitness of Wayne Rooney who missed Wednesday's Champions League encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk due to a shin problem. It was his fourth injury this season. United are looking to avoid suffering three consecutive league defeats for the first time since 2001 and have won on six of their last seven visits to Wearside.

Last season: Sunderland 0 Manchester United 1, Manchester United 3 Sunderland 1

Last five league matches: Sunderland D L L L L; Manchester United D L W L L

Top scorers: Emanuele Giaccherini (Sunderland) 3; Robin van Persie (Manchester United) 6

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

Verdict: Sunderland 0 Manchester United 1

Sunday 6th October 2013

13:30 Norwich v Chelsea Sky 1

Norwich City are charged with the task of making it another frustrating away day for Chelsea. The Blues have collected just two points from three trips out on the road - although those journeys have been to Old Trafford, Goodison Park and White Hart Lane.

Norwich, though, will feel that Jose Mourinho's side are far from invincible, especially as they are yet to settle as an attacking unit and will have to mix things up again this weekend as Fernando Torres misses out through injury and Eden Hazard comes back into contention

Norwich manager Chris Hughton will delay naming his squad as he assesses the fitness of defender Sebastien Bassong who has been suffering from a hamstring injury. Midfielder Nathan Redmond (ankle) and defender Javier Garrido (thigh) are both fit and available after training this week. Striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel missed a couple of training sessions this week with a toe problem but should be fit to play a part.

Eden Hazard (ankle) is doubtful as Chelsea seek a first Premier League away win of the season. Hazard returned to training on Friday after missing the midweek win at Steaua Bucharest along with Kevin de Bruyne, who was not selected, and Marco van Ginkel, who is out for six months following knee surgery. Fernando Torres is out for three weeks with a knee injury but would have been suspended in any case.

Last season: Norwich 0 Chelsea 1, Chelsea 4 Norwich 1

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

Top scorers: Steven Whittaker, Gary Hooper & Johan Elmander (Norwich) 2; Ramires & Oscar (Chelsea) 3

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).

Verdict: Norwich 2 Chelsea 1

13:30 Southampton v Swansea

Southampton and Swansea City lock horns in the second of Sunday's early kick-offs, with it possible that the Saints could end the weekend inside the top four. A defence which has been breached just twice continues to provide the most reliable of foundations for Mauricio Pochettino's side, making the fact that they have found the target just five times at the other end of the field slightly less of a concern.

A third straight win is the target for the Saints, but they know that Swansea's slick passing game will pose plenty of problems. The Swans will have been in Europa League action on Thursday night, which could play into the home side's hands at St Mary's, but Michael Laudrup is likely to rotate his squad for two testing fixtures in the space of four days.

Southampton defender Luke Shaw is a doubt due to illness. Manager Mauricio Pochettino is due to assess Shaw on Saturday before deciding whether the left-back will play any part in the game at St Mary's Stadium. The Saints boss has no other injury concerns as he goes in search of a third successive win.

Swansea captain Ashley Williams is set to miss a fourth successive game. The Wales defender has an ankle ligament injury, meaning Jordi Amat and Chico Flores will continue to form a partnership at centre-half. Full-back Angel Rangel is closing in on a return from an ankle injury of his own, but Pablo Hernandez's hamstring may not be risked by manager Michael Laudrup.

Last season: Swansea 0 Southampton 0, Southampton 1 Swansea 1

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

Top scorers: Steven Davis, Gaston Ramirez & Rickie Lambert (Southampton) 2; Wilfried Bony & Miguel Michu (Swansea) 5

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Verdict: Southampton 0 Swansea 1

16:00 Tottenham v West Ham

Tottenham Hotspur currently boast the joint-meanest defence in the Premier League. They have already collected four clean sheets and will be planning another shut-out when they welcome cross-London rivals West Ham United to White Hart Lane.

The Hammers have offered little so far to suggest that they can put a dent in Spurs' bid to remain among the title chasers, with Sam Allardyce's troops having failed to win since the opening day - collecting two points from the last 15 on offer. There may still be a long way to go, but the Hammers will be concerned that they are perched just above the bottom three at present and know the tide needs to turn quickly if they are to avoid being sucked into a basement battle.

Younes Kaboul will miss Tottenham's clash with West Ham on Sunday after sustaining an injury in the Europa League win at Anzhi. Plagued by knee injuries over the best part of 18 months, the Frenchman suffered a knock in the second half of Thursday's 2-0 win in Russia. Danny Rose (toe), Aaron Lennon (foot), Etienne Capoue (ankle) and Emmanuel Adebayor (illness) are not expected to return until after the international break.

West Ham midfielder Joe Cole could make his comeback from a five-week hamstring injury lay-off. The 31-year-old is likely to be on the bench, but striker Andy Carroll (heel) remains out. Defender George McCartney could make his first league appearance of the season following a knee injury.

Last season: West Ham 2 Tottenham 3, Tottenham 3 West Ham 1

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

Top scorers: Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 6; Ravel Morrison (West Ham) 3

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

Verdict: Tottenham 3 West Ham 0

16:00 West Brom v Arsenal Sky 1

The final game on a busy weekend of top-flight action will see league leaders Arsenal take on West Bromwich Albion. The Gunners, who hold a two-point lead over the chasing pack, have emerged victorious in their last 10 games in all competitions - a run which includes a penalty shoot-out success at The Hawthorns in the Capital One Cup.

They will return to the scene of that victory on Sunday hoping to get the job done inside 90 minutes. The Baggies know they will face a much-changed line-up to the one they tackled in the cup, but they also have a few aces up their sleeve and will have taken great confidence from a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford last time out - with Manchester United made to look ordinary at times in front of their own supporters.

West Brom forward Saido Berahino may make his first league start after scoring in the win against Manchester United last weekend. Head coach Steve Clarke could be without strikers Victor Anichebe (groin), Shane Long (knee) and Nicolas Anelka (foot), leaving the door open for youngster Berahino. Midfielders James Morrison and Chris Brunt should also be available but Scott Sinclair (hamstring) is absent. Matej Vydra, Ben Foster, George Thorne and Zoltan Gera are ruled out.

Arsenal will be without defender Bacary Sagna after the France international suffered a hamstring problem which could sideline him for three weeks. Carl Jenkinson is set to come in, while Jack Wilshere is pressing for a recall after starting on the bench for the 2-0 midweek win over Napoli. Forward Theo Walcott (abdominal), Santi Cazorla (ankle), Yaya Sanogo (back), Lukas Podolski (hamstring), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) are all still recovering.

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

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

Top scorers: Saido Berahino (West Brom) 5; Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) 8

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Verdict: West Brom 1 Arsenal 2

Source Sporting Life/SkySports
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