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Premier League Preview ~ 3rd - 5th Nov 2012

last updated Saturday 03rd November 2012, 3:06 PM

Fulham welcome Everton to their Fortress by the Thames with it all to do to get anything out of the game. Manager Martin Jol will be hoping that Dimitar Berbatov can work some of his magic to send Everton home pointless.

Manchester United kick off this weekend's action against Arsenal, while on Sunday there is a clash between two of the bottom three, QPR and Reading.

Leaders Chelsea travel to Swansea, Manchester City visit West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur host Wigan as the battle intensifies at both ends of the table.

Saturday 03 November 2012

12:45 - Man Utd (2) v Arsenal (6) - Sky

Old rivals Manchester United and Arsenal are pitted together in the Saturday lunchtime encounter and all the signs suggest there will be an abundance of goals.

The Gunners came from behind to beat Reading 7-5 in an extraordinary Capital One Cup tie in midweek, while Manchester United's 5-4 defeat by Chelsea was only marginally less dramatic.

It was also 8-2 to the Red Devils in the corresponding fixture at Old Trafford last season and another victory for Sir Alex Ferguson's men would lift them, perhaps only temporarily, above Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.

Arsenal will be determined not to let that happen and stay in touch with the leading pack, but it will be a tough task against a formidable attacking line-up almost certain to include former Emirates Stadium favourite Robin van Persie.

Manchester United have no fresh injuries.

Defender Chris Smalling (foot) is training but not match-ready, while his fellow centre-back Phil Jones (knee) will also be absent.

Nemanja Vidic (knee), and midfielder Shinji Kagawa (knee) remain sidelined.
Striker Robin van Persie is set to face his old club.

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere and full-back Bacary Sagna are both likely to be in contention to start, but forward Theo Walcott, who scored a hat-trick in the 7-5 midweek cup win at Reading, may be back on the bench.

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hip) faces a fitness test, while forward Gervinho (ankle), defender Kieran Gibbs (thigh), first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) and winger Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) all continue their rehabilitation.

Referee: Mike Dean G6, YC15, RC0

15:00 - Fulham (7) v Everton (5)

Fulham and Everton have both made encouraging starts to the Premier League season and head into Saturday's encounter on the back of thrilling draws.

The Cottagers were twice pegged back late on to draw 3-3 at Reading a week ago, while Everton recovered from a two-goal deficit to claim a point against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby.

Draws have been a feature of the Toffees' recent form, with a six-match unbeaten run comprising four stalemates, including the last three games.

Everton's last away match came in West London when the returning Steven Pienaar was sent off in a 1-1 draw with lowly Queens Park Rangers.

However, David Moyes' side have already won impressively at Aston Villa and Swansea City this season and boast a fine recent record against Fulham after claiming six wins in the last eight league meetings.

Last-minute goals from Jack Rodwell and Louis Saha secured a 3-1 win at Craven Cottage for Everton last season, but those two, along with other scorer Royston Drenthe, have now left Goodison Park.

Fulham, meanwhile, have won three of their four home games to date without conceding a goal and were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at home to champions Manchester City when Edin Dzeko scored a late winner.

That was their only defeat in six games and Martin Jol's men can go above Everton in the table by beating their opponents on Saturday.

Fulham defender Chris Baird has been passed fit, having recovered from the injury he sustained when slipping into advertising hoardings as he celebrated scoring against Reading last weekend.

Midfielder Simon Davies is still recovering from a hip operation and French midfielder Mickael Tavares is out with a minor hamstring problem.

Everton hope forward Kevin Mirallas will be able to recover from an ankle injury.

Midfielder Steven Pienaar returns from a one-match suspension and is expected to go straight back into the side, meaning Mirallas or Steven Naismith would miss out. Darron Gibson (thigh) remains absent.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

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

An upturn in form has eased the scrutiny on Chris Hughton at Norwich, with the Canaries apparently heading in the right direction after a run of three games unbeaten in all competitions.

Stoke City are the visitors to Carrow Road on Saturday, and Tony Pulis will be looking for just a second victory of the season after a tough start when the Potters have had to face most of the top sides.

Norwich defender Russell Martin is making a good recovery from his back injury and could be fit to face Stoke.

Manager Chris Hughton could retain a number of the players who starred in Wednesday's Capital One Cup win over Tottenham.

Striker Harry Kane, on loan from Spurs, is on course to return before Christmas following foot surgery.

Stoke will be without defender Marc Wilson who faces three months out after breaking his left leg in last weekend's draw with Sunderland. Andy Wilkinson is expected to fill in at left-back.

Midfielder Glenn Whelan is available after recovering from his hamstring problem, while winger Matthew Etherington could start the game, having been a regular substitute this term.

Referee: Andre Marriner

15:00 - Sunderland (14) v Aston Villa (17)

Martin O'Neill will come up against his former club at the Stadium of Light as Sunderland face Aston Villa in a meeting between two sides struggling to find the net.

The Black Cats, who have netted just six times in the league, have at least proved difficult to beat and will be confident of surging up the table once their attacking players click into gear and take the burden off Steven Fletcher.

Paul Lambert's Villa are just a couple of points ahead of the bottom three and need a win to take the pressure off their manager.

Sunderland have no new concerns to report.

Defender Wes Brown has suffered a setback in his recovery from a long-term knee injury which could see him ruled out for a few more weeks, and central defender Titus Bramble (hip) remains a doubt.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, midfielder James McClean and winger Sebastian Larsson are all set for possible returns after the midweek cup defeat to Middlesbrough.

Aston Villa left-back Joe Bennett returns from suspension as midfielder Karim El Ahmadi serves a one-game ban of his own.

Central defender Chris Herd is a fitness doubt after being substituted with a knee injury in the League Cup win at Swindon.

Referee: Mike Jones

15:00 - Swansea (11) v Chelsea (1)

While Chelsea were able to get the better of United in the League Cup, their loss to the same opponents last Sunday left them with just a one-point advantage in the title race and the fallout from the controversial clash has dominated the week's headlines, with a formal complaint made to the Football Association over referee Mark Clattenburg's alleged racist comment to John Obi Mikel.

Roberto Di Matteo's Blues will now be looking to get back to top form by beating a Swansea City side buoyed by their own passage to the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.

Swansea defender Chico Flores will hope to prove his fitness after suffering a dead leg in the Capital One Cup victory at Liverpool, with Garry Monk or Alan Tate set to deputise should he be unavailable.

Ashley Williams is set to lead the side despite an ankle problem while Michel Vorm (groin), Neil Taylor (broken ankle) and Kyle Bartley (thigh) are out.

Juan Mata has a hamstring problem and David Luiz an ankle injury, and both players could both miss out for Chelsea.

Left-back Ashley Cole returns from an ankle knock and Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic are back from suspension, but Frank Lampard (calf) remains out and John Terry is suspended.

Referee: Kevin Friend

15:00 - Tottenham(4) v Wigan (15)

Tottenham Hotspur are currently fourth, five points adrift of Chelsea, after holding on for a 2-1 victory at Southampton in their most recent Premier League outing.

Andre Villas-Boas' men have since bowed out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Norwich City, and will be aiming to get back on track against a Wigan Athletic side knocked out on penalties by Bradford City.

The Latics have a four-point cushion above the relegation zone and will hope to push into mid-table, although they have not always excelled at White Hart Lane and were thrashed 9-1 three years ago.

Tottenham playmaker Mousa Dembele is unavailable due to a niggling hip injury.

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor is in contention after recovering from illness and a back injury, but midfielder Jake Livermore is a doubt after suffering an ankle injury in Wednesday's cup defeat to Norwich.

Scott Parker (Achilles) plus Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Younes Kaboul (both knee) remain sidelined.

Wigan are again expected to be without winger Ryo Miyaichi who has missed the last three games with a groin problem.

Also on the sidelines are defender Antolin Alcaraz and winger Albert Crusat, due to their respective groin and knee problems.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

17:30 - West Ham (9) v Man City (3) - ESPN

Manchester City are now the only unbeaten side in the division and if Chelsea slip up there is a chance they could move into first place with a win in Saturday's late kick-off.

Roberto Mancini has had to contend with criticism during the early part of the campaign but last weekend's victory over Swansea was their fourth in a row in the league.

West Ham United will be trying to stop it becoming five at Upton Park, and Sam Allardyce's team have competed well so far on their return to the top flight to occupy a mid-table berth.

West Ham will be without Guy Demel (hernia) and Matthew Taylor (calf), with both hoping to be back in contention within two weeks.

Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) and Jack Collison (knee) are the club's long-term absentees.

Manchester City welcome back Javi Garcia and Pablo Zabaleta from injury and James Milner from suspension, but defender Micah Richards has been added to the casualty list after damaging his knee against Swansea last weekend.

Midfielders David Silva and Jack Rodwell (both hamstring) and defender Maicon (foot) are still out.

Referee: Howard Webb G5, YC23, RC1

Sunday 04 November 2012

13:30 - QPR (20) v Reading (18) - Sky

Reading have not fared so well since earning promotion and are without a win in their eight league games, while Tuesday's incredible loss to Arsenal will also be difficult to recover from.

The Royals will have to bounce back quickly, though, as they prepare to do battle with fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, in a match that can be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD from 1pm.

QPR are currently bottom of the table with just three points and owner Tony Fernandes has again had to give his backing to manager Mark Hughes this week following reports he will be axed if Reading are not beaten.

QPR captain Park Ji-sung has not trained this week due to a knee injury so is rated doubtful.

Striker Bobby Zamora (hip) may also be absent, while defender Armand Traore is struggling with a leg injury.

Stephane Mbia starts a three-match suspension, and long-term absentees Fabio (hamstring) and Andrew Johnson (knee) remain sidelined.

Reading midfielder Danny Guthrie misses out due to a thigh strain.

Midfielder Jem Karacan is sidelined with a knee injury that could keep him out until early December.

Boss Brian McDermott has no further injury problems to contend with.

Referee: Michael Oliver G4 YC8 RC1

16:00 - Liverpool (12) v Newcastle (10) - Sky  

Sunday's second match sees Liverpool entertain Newcastle United at Anfield.

It is a contest that traditionally produces plenty of excitement but neither side have been performing at their best this season, with the Reds lying 12th and knocked out of the Capital One Cup by Brendan Rodgers' former club Swansea this week.

Newcastle are just a couple of places higher up the standings after Papiss Cisse's fortunate late winner against West Bromwich Albion last time out.

Goalkeeper Jose Reina and defender Glen Johnson remain injury doubts for Liverpool.

Reina has missed four matches with a hamstring injury while Johnson missed last week's Merseyside derby with a similar niggle.

Manager Brendan Rodgers is set to restore his first-choice line-up after making nine changes for the midweek Capital One Cup defeat by Swansea.

Newcastle striker Demba Ba could return from a calf injury, but the visitors will be without midfielder Cheick Tiote, who misses his second game in a three-match ban after he was sent off during the 1-1 draw against Sunderland last month.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Monday 05 November 2012

20:00 - West Brom (8) v Southampton (19) - Sky

West Brom captain Chris Brunt and defender Billy Jones have recovered from their respective hamstring and knee injuries and could play a part.

Head coach Steve Clarke is optimistic forward Shane Long will be back after a hamstring injury, while midfielder Claudio Yacob could also return from a similar problem.

Southampton could welcome back record signing Gaston Ramirez who has been absent for five weeks due to a thigh problem.

He has trained this week, but defender Frazer Richardson (groin) and midfielder Jack Cork (knee) remain sidelined.

Striker Tadanari Lee featured in the League Cup defeat to Leeds following his elbow injury and could make his league return.

Referee: Mark Halsey

Source Soccernet/Sportsmail
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