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Premier League Preview ~ 11th - 12th February 2012

last updated Friday 10th February 2012, 7:40 PM

Premiership table - 07:02:12
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City 24 12 0 0 37 6 6 3 3 26 13 44 57
2 Man Utd 24 9 1 2 35 14 8 3 1 24 10 35 55
3 Tottenham 24 9 2 1 24 10 6 3 3 20 15 19 50
4 Chelsea 24 7 2 3 27 19 5 5 2 17 10 15 43
5 Newcastle 24 7 3 2 18 12 5 3 4 18 19 5 42
6 Arsenal 24 8 2 2 24 9 4 2 6 22 25 12 40
7 Liverpool 24 4 8 0 14 8 6 1 5 14 13 7 39
8 Sunderland 24 5 4 3 19 11 4 2 6 14 13 9 33
9 Norwich 24 5 4 3 19 15 3 4 5 15 24 -5 32
10 Swansea 24 5 6 1 16 7 2 3 7 10 22 -3 30
11 Everton 24 4 3 5 12 13 4 3 5 12 14 -3 30
12 Stoke 24 4 4 4 15 14 4 2 6 8 22 -13 30
13 Aston Villa 24 3 4 5 14 16 3 6 3 15 17 -4 28
14 Fulham 24 5 4 3 22 18 1 5 6 7 17 -6 27
15 West Brom 24 2 2 8 9 16 5 3 4 15 18 -10 26
16 QPR 24 2 4 6 13 20 3 2 7 12 21 -16 21
17 Wolves 24 3 2 7 16 23 2 4 6 11 21 -17 21
18 Bolton 24 2 2 8 14 25 4 0 8 14 24 -21 20
19 Blackburn 24 3 0 9 16 24 1 6 5 18 30 -20 18
20 Wigan 24 1 5 6 11 22 2 2 8 10 27 -28 16
After a turbulent week in English football, domestic matters return to the fore in the Premier League.

Fabio Capello will certainly not be in attendance at any top-flight ground this weekend, and he could miss out on a cracker at Old Trafford where rivals Manchester United and Liverpool meet once again.

Luis Suarez is sure to receive a hostile reception as the Uruguayan has now served his eight-match suspension for racially abusing United's Patrice Evra back in October.

United currently sit second in the table, two points behind Manchester City who travel to Aston Villa for the final game of the weekend on Sunday afternoon.

Elsewhere, Harry Redknapp will finally be able to focus on football matters after being found not guilty of tax evasion on Wednesday - Tottenham have a tricky tie against Newcastle.

Premiership Games
Saturday 11th February 2012
12:45 Man Utd v Liverpool Sky1
15:00 Blackburn v QPR  
15:00 Bolton v Wigan
15:00 Everton v Chelsea
15:00 Fulham v Stoke  
15:00 Snderland v Arsenal  
15:00 Swansea v Norwich  
17:30 Tottenham v Newcastle ESPN
Sunday 12th February 2012
13:30 Wolves v West Brom Sky1
16:00 Aston Villa v Man City Sky1
Chelsea have a difficult away trip to Goodison Park with the hot breath of owner Roman Abramovich down the neck of Andre Villas-Boas.

Arsene Wenger will be hoping to see his squad follow up the 7-1 thrashing of 10 man Blackburn with three useful points at Martin O'Neill's improving Sunderland.

There are relegation battles galore this weekend with all the bottom six sides playing each including two derbies Bolton v Wigan and Wolves v West Brom. Should be plenty blood and thunder.

Saturday  11th February 2012

12:45 - Man Utd (2) v Liverpool (7) ~ Sky2

Manchester United and Liverpool have always enjoyed a fierce rivalry, but this season it has taken on a different, and perhaps more sinister, dimension.

Luis Suarez's suspension for racially abusing Evra has added to the already tense relationship between the two North-West clubs.

Liverpool's steadfast defence of the Uruguayan has drawn criticism from many quarters with manager Kenny Dalglish most recently declaring, on the forward's return, that he should never have been absent in the first place.

Dalglish got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson when these sides met in the FA Cup a few weeks ago, but with United looking to gun down Manchester City at the top of the table, revenge could be on the cards.

Tom Cleverley is expected to play some part for United.

Cleverley has been out since October with an ankle injury but has now recovered and is likely to be on the bench.

Chris Smalling (knock) is set to return but Phil Jones (ankle) is still missing.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is set to face United for the first time since being banned for eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra.

The Uruguay international looked sharp on his comeback in a 24-minute substitute appearance in the goalless draw at home to Tottenham on Monday.

Left-back Jose Enrique missed that match with a hamstring problem but is expected to be fit enough to return.

Last season: Liverpool 3 Man Utd 1, Man Utd 3 Liverpool 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 20; Craig Bellamy (Liverpool) 9

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

15:00 - Blackburn (19) v QPR (16)

Only three points separate Blackburn Rovers and QPR ahead of their contest at Ewood Park.

Rangers were recently scuppered by Wolves while Rovers were hammered 7-1 by Arsenal.

It was a miserable afternoon for Steve Kean at the Emirates and he will be hoping for a response from his players.

Kean expects wantaway captain Chris Samba to play for the club again despite being injured for Saturday's game, while QPR's Djibril Cisse will serve a three-match suspension after grabbing Roger Johnson by the throat.

A big game this one, with things extremely tight at the wrong end of the table.

Blackburn have Aiyegbeni Yakubu back from a three-match suspension but defender Christopher Samba has been ruled out with a hamstring problem.

Gael Givet will serve the first of a three-game ban following his sending off during the 7-1 defeat against Arsenal.

Midfielder Jason Lowe could be back in contention after responding well to treatment to an ankle injury he sustained against the Gunners.

QPR striker Djibril Cisse starts a three-match ban after his red card against Wolves last week, while Heidar Helguson (groin), DJ Campbell and Luke Young (both hamstring) also miss out.

Jay Bothroyd (groin), Akos Buzsaky (Achilles) and Danny Gabbidon (hip) could all return from injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ayegbeni Yakubu (Blackburn) 13; Heidar Helguson (QPR) 9

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

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

Wigan Athletic are in desperate need of a result with the Latics currently rock bottom of the Premier League and five points adrift of safety.

They were held at home by Everton in their last outing and a trip to fellow strugglers Bolton must be seen as an opportunity to drag themselves back into contention.

Owen Coyle's side produced a lacklustre display at Norwich and need another spark to reignite their attempts to pull clear of the bottom three.

USA centre-back Tim Ream could finally make his debut for Bolton.

Ream's move from the New York Red Bulls was confirmed over a fortnight ago and he started training this week after paperwork relating to the deal was completed.

He is set to be in the matchday squad along with fellow January recruit Ryo Miyaichi, the Japanese winger who signed on loan from Arsenal.

Gretar Steinsson (hamstring) and Joe Riley (groin) may return having missed last weekend's 2-0 defeat at Norwich but another defender Marcos Alonso (foot) remains sidelined.

Wigan are at full strength.

Defender Antolin Alcaraz (groin) is back in contention to start after being left on the bench against Everton last week.

Midfielder Mohamed Diame could also make his first appearance since returning from the African Nations Cup.

Last season: Bolton 1 Wigan 1, Wigan 1 Bolton 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Marvin Sordell (Bolton) 10; Franco Di Santo, Jordi Gomez & Ben Watson (Wigan) 4

Referee: Howard Webb

15:00 - Everton (11) v Chelsea (4)  

Quite what Andre Villas-Boas said to his players after the 3-3 draw with Manchester United last weekend is a mystery, but he cannot have been best pleased having watched Chelsea squander a 3-0 lead in the second half at Stamford Bridge.

It leaves the Blues in fourth place - one point ahead of Newcastle and three above Arsenal.

Everton are sitting in mid-table and will stay there if their inconsistent play continues, although David Moyes' side are traditionally strong on the back stretch and will want to push into the top half.

Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell has suffered a minor setback in his recovery from a hamstring problem and will not be risked.

The 20-year-old has struggled with the injury since November and has made only three appearances since then, the last coming a month ago.

Phil Jagielka, Leon Osman (both knee) and Seamus Coleman (thigh) are still unavailable.

Midfielders Frank Lampard (calf) and John Obi Mikel (hamstring) are in contention to return for Chelsea and full-back Ashley Cole is suspension-free.

However, captain John Terry is still not fit from a knee problem and midfielder Ramires (knee) also remains sidelined.

Last season: Everton 1 Chelsea 0, Chelsea 1 Everton 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Nikica Jelavic (Everton) 17; Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 11

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

15:00 - Fulham (14) v Stoke (12)

A win for Fulham over Stoke would see them leapfrog the Potters.

Martin Jol watched his side fall at Manchester City but a dubious early penalty decision against the West Londoners killed any hope they had of snatching a result at the Etihad Stadium.

You just do not know which Fulham are going to turn up this season, such has been the marked contrast in certain games.

Stoke will be hoping the Cottagers have an off day but will themselves be without the suspended Robert Huth, whose appeal against his recent red card was rejected.

Recent signing Pavel Pogrebnyak could make his Fulham debut.

The Russia international joined from Stuttgart on transfer deadline day and could feature at Craven Cottage, although fellow striker Andrew Johnson will miss out as he continues to recover from a left adductor injury.

Philippe Senderos will miss the next couple of weeks after an MRI scan showed he has a grade two strain in his left adductor, while Zdenek Grygera (knee) and Steve Sidwell (hernia) are also unavailable.

Stoke will be without suspended defender Robert Huth, who begins a three-match ban after the Potters' appeal to the FA against the red card he received in last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Sunderland was rejected.

Forward Cameron Jerome limped off in that game with a dead leg and midfielder Matthew Etherington missed it due to a virus, but manager Tony Pulis is hopeful both players will be available for the contest at Craven Cottage.

Last season: Fulham 2 Stoke 0, Stoke 0 Fulham 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Clint Dempsey (Fulham) 16; Peter Crouch & Jonathan Walters (Stoke) 8

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

15:00 - Sunderland (8) v Arsenal (6)

Arsenal's supporters were beginning to get restless once again before that demolition of Blackburn but the remarkable scoreline ensured any rumours of black bin liners on seats were well and truly rubbished.

Arsene Wenger takes his team to the Stadium of Light where Sunderland lie in wait.

Martin O'Neill's rejuvenated side overcame North East rivals Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in midweek, although Stephane Sessegnon's winner came in extra time so there may be a few tired legs that the Gunners can possibly exploit.

Loan signing defenders Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos return for Sunderland after being ineligible for Wednesday's FA Cup fourth round replay victory at Middlesbrough having not arrived on Wearside in time to be registered.

Nicklas Bendtner cannot play against his parent club under the terms of his loan agreement.

Centre-back Matt Kilgallon has returned to training after an ankle injury but is short of match fitness while Lee Cattermole (hamstring), David Vaughan (ankle), Wes Brown (knee) and Titus Bramble (Achilles/calf) are still out.

Arsenal could have defender Kieran Gibbs back in the squad after his recovery from groin problems.

Striker Marouane Chamakh has returned from the African Nations Cup, but Gervinho remains away as Ivory Coast prepare for the final.

Defenders Carl Jenkinson (back) and Andre Santos (ankle) are still out, along with midfielders Abou Diaby (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle). Emmanuel Frimpong has returned from his loan spell at Wolves, but will be out for the rest of the season after needing surgery on his knee.

Last season: Arsenal 0 Sunderland 0, Sunderland 1 Arsenal 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland) 7; Robin van Persie (Arsenal) 28

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

15:00 - Swansea (10) v Norwich (9)

Two of last season's promoted sides will be reunited at the Liberty Stadium when Swansea host Norwich.

Both these teams have performed remarkably well this term following their elevation from the Championship and have gone about crafting their own individual styles.

Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert have won plaudits for the way they have approached life in the top fight, but plaudits mean little - points are the key.

Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers, who signed a new three-and-a-half year contract this week, is likely to stick with the starting line-up that secured a 2-1 win at West Brom last weekend.

New signing Curtis Obeng is unlikely to be rushed into the squad following his recent arrival from Wrexham, while midfielder Ferrie Bodde is again on the sidelines after being hit by another knee injury and Andrea Orlandi (hamstring) is also out.

Norwich defender Elliott Ward could be in line to make his first appearance of the season after six months on the sidelines with a knee problem.

Centre-back Daniel Ayala will be out of action for around four weeks with a hamstring injury and partner Zak Whitbread is doubtful as he recovers from a hamstring strain.

Full-back Marc Tierney has still not recovered from a groin problem while striker James Vaughan is training well but not yet match fit.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Rory Donnelly (Swansea) 12; Grant Holt & Steve Morison (Norwich) 9

Referee: Martin Atkinson

17:30 - Tottenham (3) v Newcastle (5) ~ ESPN

What a week it has been for Harry Redknapp.

Facing a charge of tax evasion at Southwark Crown Court, Redknapp and Milan Mandaric were cleared on Wednesday - the same day that Fabio Capello stepped down from his position of England coach following a row with the FA regarding John Terry's captaincy.

Redknapp is widely expected to succeed Capello but, for the time being, Stuart Pearce has been placed in caretaker charge of the Three Lions.

Tottenham will not give up their manager without a fight and this weekend they face Newcastle, who sit fifth in the standings.

Alan Pardew, who has ruled himself out of the England running, will be looking for his Senegalese strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to produce some more magic.

Spurs will be without Rafael van der Vaart who has failed to overcome the calf injury that kept him out of Monday's draw at Liverpool.

Aaron Lennon and Jermain Defoe (both hamstring) are back in the frame after missing the game at Anfield, but Younes Kaboul (knee) and Sandro (calf) are doubts.

Ledley King (knee) will be given a late fitness test, but William Gallas (calf) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are out.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will be without striker Leon Best and utility man Ryan Taylor.

Best could miss the rest of the season with the medial ligament injury he suffered against Aston Villa last weekend, while the ankle problem Taylor sustained in the same game is less serious, but will keep him out at White Hart Lane.

Yohan Cabaye completes his three-match ban, Cheick Tiote is still on African Nations Cup duty while defender Steven Taylor (Achilles) and midfielders Sylvain Marveaux (groin) and Sammy Ameobi (knee) continue their respective recoveries.

Last season: Newcastle 1 Tottenham 1, Tottenham 2 Newcastle 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 12; Demba Ba (Newcastle) 16

Referee: Andre Marriner

Sunday 12th February 2012

13:30 - Wolves (17) v West Brom (15) ~ Sky1

The battle to avoid relegation this season is certainly bubbling nicely and there is a six-pointer in store when Black Country rivals Wolves and West Brom lock horns at Molineux.

Wolves had been on a poor run but showed great resolve to fight back from a goal down and earn a 2-1 victory at QPR.

Mick McCarthy needed that win after Steve Morgan had given the side a dressing down following the home capitulation against Liverpool.

The Baggies, meanwhile, were on the receiving end of such a comeback against Swansea and Roy Hodgson will know his side are not immune from dropping into the dogfight.

Wolves will check the fitness of central midfielders Jamie O'Hara (groin) and Dave Edwards (thigh) ahead of the game.

Manager Mick McCarthy is already without Emmanuel Frimpong, who returned to Arsenal after rupturing knee ligaments, and the suspended Karl Henry in that department.

Winger Michael Kightly (back) is also sidelined while right-back Kevin Foley is battling to overcome an ankle problem.

West Brom head coach Roy Hodgson will wait for late fitness checks on striker Shane Long and midfielder Graham Dorrans before finalising his side.

Long has been troubled by a back complaint and chest pains and has only been able to train on his own this week, while Dorrans is suffering from a hip problem.

Hodgson has to decide whether to give first starts to transfer deadline day signings, left-back Liam Ridgewell and midfielder Keith Andrews.

Last season: Wolves 3 West Brom 1, West Brom 1 Wolves 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Steven Fletcher (Wolves) 9; Keith Andrews (West Brom) 9

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

16:00 - Aston Villa (13) v Man City (1) ~ Sky1

A two-point lead at the summit is not something to be scoffed at with three months of the campaign left to play.

That is the advantage Manchester City have over United ahead of a potentially tricky trip to Aston Villa.

Roberto Mancini's men bounced back from a minor blip with a comfortable victory over Fulham last time out and will be looking to get a run of results going in the Midlands.

Since Villa's impressive victory over Chelsea on New Year's Eve Alex McLeish's side have not been able to find a consistent run of form.

A defeat to Newcastle was preceded by a draw against QPR and McLeish will be desperate for a positive result to boost morale.

Villa are hopeful of having a trio of players back.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor (back and hamstring), winger Marc Albrighton (thigh) and central defender James Collins (calf) have all made good progress towards fitness during the past week.

Midfielder Chris Herd (ankle) remains the only long-term casualty.

Striker Robbie Keane will make his final home appearance before returning to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Manchester City captain and defender Vincent Kompany (knee) should return and midfielder Samir Nasri is also in contention after leaving the field with a groin injury in last week's defeat of Fulham.

Striker Mario Balotelli is again missing as he completes a four-match suspension while midfielder Yaya Toure and defender Kolo Toure are still at the African Nations Cup.

Last season: Aston Villa 1 Man City 0, Man City 4 Aston Villa 0

Last five league matches: Aston Villa L D W D L; Man City W W W L W

Top scorers (all competitions): Darren Bent (Aston Villa) 10; Sergio Aguero (Man City) 18 Match odds: H 18-5 A 8-13 D 5-2

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

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