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Premier League Preview 21st - 22nd January 2012

last updated Friday 20th January 2012, 10:11 PM

Premiership Games
Saturday 21st January 2012
12:45 Norwich v Chelsea Sky2
15:00 Everton v Blackburn  
15:00 Fulham v Newcastle
15:00 QPR v Wigan
15:00 Stoke v West Brom  
15:00 Sunderland v Swansea  
15:00 Wolves v Aston Villa  
17:30 Bolton v Liverpool ESPN
Sunday 22nd January 2012
13:30 Man City v Tottenham Sky1
16:00 Arsenal v Man Utd Sky1
It is a potentially decisive weekend in the Premier League with two crucial games in prospect on Sunday , both North London versus Manchester.

Injury ravaged Arsenal host second-place Manchester United at the Emirates hoping to avoid a similar crushing defeat to that which they experienced in Manchester.

Tottenham's thoughts of winning the Premier League will be well and truly put to the test when they travel to leaders Manchester City.
Premiership table - 20:01:12
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City 21 10 0 0 31 4 6 3 2 26 12 41 51
2 Man Utd 21 8 1 2 33 14 7 2 1 19 6 32 48
3 Tottenham 21 8 2 1 21 9 6 2 2 18 12 18 46
4 Chelsea 21 7 1 3 24 16 5 3 2 16 9 15 40
5 Arsenal 21 7 2 1 16 6 4 1 6 22 25 7 36
6 Newcastle 21 6 3 2 16 11 4 3 3 14 14 5 36
7 Liverpool 21 4 7 0 14 8 5 1 4 10 10 6 35
8 Stoke 21 4 4 2 14 11 4 2 5 8 20 -9 30
9 Norwich 21 4 3 3 17 15 3 4 4 15 21 -4 28
10 Swansea 21 5 5 1 15 6 1 3 6 8 19 -2 26
11 Everton 21 3 2 5 10 12 4 2 5 11 13 -4 25
12 Sunderland 21 3 4 3 14 11 3 2 6 13 13 3 24
13 Aston Villa 21 3 3 5 12 14 2 6 2 11 13 -4 24
14 Fulham 21 4 3 3 16 15 1 5 5 7 14 -6 23
15 West Brom 21 2 2 7 8 14 4 2 4 12 16 -10 22
16 Wolves 21 3 2 5 14 17 1 4 6 9 20 -14 18
17 Blackburn 21 3 0 8 16 22 1 5 4 16 22 -12 17
18 QPR 21 1 4 5 9 17 3 1 7 10 19 -17 17
19 Bolton 21 1 1 8 11 24 4 0 7 14 22 -21 16
20 Wigan 21 1 4 6 10 21 2 2 6 8 21 -24 15
The League leaders have been experiencing a bit of a wobble lately so failing to beat Spurs could put the skids under their season.

Chelsea's forth place seems safe for another week but a hard to earn win at Norwich is necessary to keep the chasing pack at bay.

Liverpool and Newcastle both face away trips on Saturday, Liverpool go to struggling Bolton and depleted Newcastle travel to Jekyll and Hyde Fulham.

There is a also a Midlands derby in store when desperate Wolves lock horns with Aston Villa.

At the bottom end of the table, QPR welcome Wigan to Loftus Road with Mark Hughes looking to get his first league points with his new club.

Saturday 21st January 2012

12:45 - Norwich (9) v Chelsea (4)

Fourth-place Chelsea have not been convincing of late but have been boosted by the arrival of Gary Cahill following his protracted move.

The centre-half may get the chance to make his debut when Andre Villas-Boas' charges go to Norwich City on Saturday lunchtime.

Chelsea's defence has been a worry this season but Cahill's switch may help tighten things up, with the Canaries in good form and sitting comfortably in mid-table.

Paul Lambert's side have won their last three games in all competitions and are enjoying their first campaign back in the top-flight.

Expect another entertaining contest Norwich goalkeeper Declan Rudd is out for two months after injuring his knee in training so third-choice Jed Steer comes into the squad as cover for John Ruddy.

Full-back Marc Tierney is back in training after recovering from a groin injury.

Gary Cahill could make his Chelsea debut but may have to make do with a substitute role as he settles into his new surroundings.

Branislav Ivanovic could earn an immediate recall at right-back after a month out injured, the fit-again Michael Essien is in contention to start after making his comeback from the bench on Saturday, but the game comes too soon for John Obi Mikel (hamstring).

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steve Morison (Norwich) 9; Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 11

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

15:00 - Everton (11) v Blackburn (17)

Just when Blackburn seem down and out they produce another important result, with three points against Fulham dragging them out of the bottom three.

Steve Kean has this week been doing his utmost to cool talk of Christopher Samba leaving the club, while hoping to strengthen himself before the end of the window.

This weekend it is another big game with Rovers going to Everton.

The Toffees look set for a tough campaign in mid-table unless they can find some consistency while Blackburn can actually go five points behind the Merseysiders with a win - but few would put their money on that.

Everton manager David Moyes does not expect to have any of his injured players back to face Rovers, with centre-backs Phil Jagielka (knee) and Sylvain Distin (hamstring) missing, while fellow defender Tony Hibbert (groin) has been out for some time, meaning Shane Duffy is likely to continue alongside John Heitinga in the middle of the back four.

Midfielders Seamus Coleman (thigh), Leon Osman (knee) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) have all sat out recent games.

New loan signing Anthony Modeste could make his debut for Blackburn if he receives international clearance in time.

The 23-year-old striker, who has moved from Bordeaux, could feature with Ayegbeni Yakubu beginning a three-match suspension.

Centre-back Scott Dann is also in contention for a return after recovering from a groin injury while manager Steve Kean will judge Chris Samba's mental state after the defender had a transfer request turned down.

Last season: Everton 2 Blackburn 0, Blackburn 1 Everton 0

Last five league matches: Everton D W L L D; Blackburn L D W L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Leighton Baines & Landon Donovan (Everton) 4; Ayegbeni Yakubu (Blackburn) 13

Referee: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

15:00 - Fulham (14) v Newcastle (6)

Life without Demba Ba started well for Newcastle last weekend and they will have to cope without their star striker again for the game at Fulham on Saturday.

Alan Pardew swooped to sign another Senegal international forward Papiss Cisse this week but, like Ba, he is unavailable for the Magpies until the completion of the Africa Cup of Nations.

With Arsenal facing a tough game on Sunday, Newcastle have the opportunity to move into fifth this weekend while Fulham will want to put more distance between themselves and the bottom clubs in the division.

The Cottagers fell to a lacklustre defeat at Blackburn in their last outing but should be a different prospect at Craven Cottage.

Mousa Dembele and Orlando Sa will miss out for Fulham.

Manager Martin Jol hopes to have the attackers back next week, although they miss out this time with hip and hamstring complaints respectively.

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (spine) is still two weeks away from a first-team return, while Zdenek Grygera (knee) is out for the season.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will make a late decision on midfielder Yohan Cabaye who is a doubt with an ankle injury.

Striker Peter Lovenkrands (calf) has returned to training, but central defender Steven Taylor (Achilles) and midfielders Sylvain Marveaux (groin) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) remain on the sidelines, while enforcer Cheick Tiote and frontmen Demba Ba and new signing Papiss Demba Cisse are on African Nations Cup duty.

Last season: Fulham 1 Newcastle 0, Newcastle 0 Fulham 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Clint Dempsey (Fulham) 12; Demba Ba (Newcastle) 15

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

15:00 - QPR (18) v Wigan (20)

Mark Hughes' first game in charge of Queens Park Rangers ended in defeat at St James' Park last Sunday, but the Hoops secured an FA Cup victory in midweek and will be looking to take momentum into their meeting with relegation rivals Wigan Athletic.

Hughes is set to add players to his squad before the end of the January transfer window but in the meantime he knows getting points on the board is a priority.

Both clubs are mired in the relegation zone with Roberto Martinez's Latics rooted to the bottom of the table.

However, a win at Loftus Road would see Wigan leapfrog QPR and possibly move out of that dreaded bottom three.

QPR welcome back captain Joey Barton who has missed the past three matches through suspension.

Danny Gabbidon will have a hip complaint assessed today, while manager Mark Hughes is unlikely to complete any signings in time to feature.

Adel Taarabt and Armand Traore are on African Nations Cup duty and Alejandro Faurlin (knee) is out for the rest of the season.

Wigan midfielder David Jones is doubtful with a calf injury.

The bottom club are already without another midfielder in Mohamed Diame, who is on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal.

The Latics have no other fitness concerns after Albert Crusat made a successful return from a back injury in Monday's loss to Manchester City.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: QPR L D L L L; Wigan D L D L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Heidar Helguson (QPR) 8; Jordi Gomez, Franco Di Santo & Ben Watson (Wigan) 4

Referee: Jon Moss.

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

Stoke and West Brom lock horns at the Britannia Stadium.

The Baggies have lost three Premier League games on the bounce since their credible draw with Manchester City, and now sit 15th in the table, nervously looking over their shoulder.

We all know that going to Stoke and coming away with a positive result is a real challenge this season and the Potters are unbeaten in the league since losing to City back in December.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has just two doubts, with defender Ryan Shotton, who missed last weekend's goalless draw at Liverpool with a foot injury, touch and go, while midfielder Rory Delap, whom Pulis concedes occasionally suffers with cramp in his calf muscles, will also be assessed.

West Brom head coach Roy Hodgson has mixed fitness news.

Central defender Jonas Olsson is expected to be fit after injuring his calf, but midfielder Paul Scharner is struggling to overcome the Achilles problem which flared up during last weekend's home clash with Norwich.

Last season: Stoke 1 West Brom 1, West Brom 0 Stoke 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Peter Crouch & Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 8; Shane Long (West Brom) 6

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).

15:00 - Sunderland (12) v Swansea (10)

Swansea's remarkable 3-2 success against Arsenal leaves them in the top half going into the weekend but they will need a good performance to stay there as they face a tricky tie at a rejuvenated Sunderland.

Martin O'Neill's arrival has seen a major upturn in results for the Black Cats and they were unlucky not to get anything from the game at Chelsea.

They can leapfrog the Swans with victory at the Stadium of Light but must be wary of their opponents' attacking threat, as demonstrated against the Gunners.

Sunderland defenders Wes Brown and Titus Bramble could return to the squad after resuming training.

Brown has missed the last three games with a groin injury, while Bramble has been sidelined since suffering Achilles and calf problems on Boxing Day.

Striker Fraizer Campbell travelled to Chelsea last week after recovering from a second serious knee injury, he is still short of match fitness.

Loan signing Josh McEachran is set to go straight into the Swansea squad.

The teenage Chelsea midfielder arrived in south Wales on Monday and could be handed an immediate chance to impress, while fellow midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson is pushing for a start after an excellent second-half performance in the win over Arsenal.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland) 6; Rory Donnelly (Swansea) 12

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

15:00 - Wolves (16) v Aston Villa (13)

Results have been going against Wolves recently and a second-string XI fell to Birmingham in the FA Cup in midweek.

It is a second Midlands derby in as many games for Mick McCarthy's men as Aston Villa make the short trip to Molineux for this crunch encounter.

Currently languishing just above the relegation zone, Wolves have not won in nine games and the pressure on McCarthy is beginning to grow.

A defeat at home by Villa would turn the screw even further, but Alex McLeish's side have lost one and drawn one since their impressive victory at Chelsea.

This may not be one for the purists.

Wolves skipper Roger Johnson is set to be fit after missing the FA Cup replay against Birmingham with an ankle injury.

Full-back Kevin Foley (ankle) and winger Matt Jarvis (hamstring) are also expected to be available.

Nine-goal top scorer Steven Fletcher will return along with the other nine players not included for the replay.

Striker Robbie Keane is in contention to make his full Aston Villa debut.

The on-loan Los Angeles Galaxy player only appeared as a late substitute against Everton but has impressed manager Alex McLeish in linking up with playmaker Stephen Ireland in training this week.

Midfielder Chris Herd (ankle) and veteran striker Emile Heskey (Achilles) are still ruled out.

Last season: Aston Villa 0 Wolves 1, Wolves 1 Aston Villa 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steven Fletcher (Wolves) 9; Darren Bent (Aston Villa) 7

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

17:30 - Bolton (19) v Liverpool (7)

Liverpool could not break down a stubborn Stoke outfit in their last game but they may have more luck against a slightly leakier Bolton defence.

The Reds have not won in the league yet this year and without Luis Suarez are reliant on their other attackers to provide the spark in the final third.

Andy Carroll appears to have stepped up his performances but they are still way off the displays he produced for Newcastle last season.

Bolton, meanwhile, are looking to put their 3-0 defeat at Manchester United behind them and produce the similar level that saw them dispatch of Everton a few weeks back.

David Ngog is set to face old club Liverpool for the first time since his £4million summer move to Bolton tomorrow - the striker is likely to replace Kevin Davies.

Goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen has returned to training after a thigh injury, although the Finn is not expected to be ready to start.

Midfielder Jay Spearing is Liverpool's only injury doubt.

The 23-year-old missed last week's goalless draw with Stoke with a hamstring injury and will be assessed before the evening kick-off at the Reebok Stadium.

Centre-back Daniel Agger is set to return after being rested which could mean Jamie Carragher loses his place after his first league start in over two months, while striker Luis Suarez is still suspended.

Last season: Liverpool 2 Bolton 1, Bolton 0 Liverpool 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ivan Klasnic (Bolton) 8; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 8

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

Sunday 22nd January 2012

13:30 - Man City (1) v Tottenham (3)

Manchester City's victory over Wigan on Monday night moved them clear at the summit but Tottenham will be tougher opponents at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Spurs have had a fantastic campaign so far and despite their slip-up against Wolves, a win at City would see them move just two points behind Roberto Mancini's side.

These two teams have both played excellent football so far this season and this one is all set up to be a cracker of a game.

If Tottenham fall to a defeat, would that rule them out of the title race?

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli (ankle) and right-back Micah Richards (hamstring) are fit after both players missed the leaders' 1-0 win at Wigan on Monday.

City are still without suspended captain Vincent Kompany while fellow defender Kolo Toure and his brother Yaya are at the African Nations Cup.

Tottenham captain Ledley King only has a small chance of playing as he struggles to recover from the hamstring injury which has sidelined him for the last four weeks.

Jermain Defoe is likely to partner Rafael van der Vaart up front as Emmanuel Adebayor is unavailable due to the terms of his loan deal from City.

Sandro, William Gallas (both calf) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are unavailable.

Last season: Man City 1 Tottenham 0, Tottenham 0 Man City 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Sergio Aguero (Man City) 17; Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 11

Referee: Howard Webb.

16:00 - Arsenal (5) v Man Utd (2)

Manchester United and Arsenal renew old rivalries in another mouthwatering fixture.

Arsene Wenger's men may not be challenging for top spot this term, but they would love nothing more than to dent United's hopes of defending their crown.

There have been some memorable matches between these teams over the years and this tie could add to the rich history.

United currently trail City by three points and will not want that gap to open up further, while Arsenal need to keep Chelsea in check as the race for a top-four place continues.

Thierry Henry has haunted Sir Alex Ferguson in the past and may get the chance to do so again this weekend.

Striker Thierry Henry (calf) faces a fitness test for Arsenal, defender Thomas Vermaelen (calf) is a major doubt, while midfielder Mikel Arteta (calf) is not fit.

Strikers Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho are away at the African Nations Cup.

Defenders Francis Coquelin (hamstring), Kieran Gibbs (groin), Bacary Sagna (ankle), Carl Jenkinson (back) and Andre Santos (ankle) are all still out, along with midfielders Abou Diaby (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle).

Sir Alex Ferguson is set to welcome back England duo Chris Smalling and Phil Jones for Manchester United.

The pair both missed last weekend's win over Bolton after suffering minor injuries in a collision during the Manchester derby.

Brazilian midfielder Anderson has been ruled out after suffering a training ground injury, whilst Tom Cleverley (ankle) and Ashley Young (knee) should be back in full training within 10 days.

Last season: Arsenal 1 Man Utd 0, Man Utd 1 Arsenal 0

Last five league matches: Arsenal W D W L L; Man Utd W W L L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Robin van Persie (Arsenal) 22; Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 18

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral).

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