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Premier League Preview ~ 3rd-4th March 2012

last updated Saturday 03rd March 2012, 11:33 AM

Premiership table - 27:02:12
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Man City 26 13 0 0 40 6 7 3 3 27 13 48 63
2 Man Utd 26 10 1 2 37 15 9 3 1 26 11 37 61
3 Tottenham 26 10 2 1 29 10 6 3 4 22 20 21 53
4 Arsenal 26 9 2 2 29 11 5 2 6 24 26 16 46
5 Chelsea 26 8 2 3 30 19 5 5 3 17 12 16 46
6 Newcastle 26 7 4 2 20 14 5 3 5 18 24 0 43
7 Liverpool 25 4 8 0 14 8 6 1 6 15 15 6 39
8 Norwich 26 5 4 4 20 17 4 4 5 18 26 -5 35
9 Sunderland 26 5 4 4 20 13 4 2 7 14 17 4 33
10 Everton 25 5 3 5 14 13 4 3 5 12 14 -1 33
11 Fulham 26 6 4 3 24 19 2 5 6 8 17 -4 33
12 Stoke 26 5 4 4 17 14 4 2 7 9 24 -12 33
13 West Brom 26 3 2 8 13 16 6 3 4 20 19 -2 32
14 Swansea 26 5 6 2 18 10 2 3 8 10 24 -6 30
15 Aston Villa 26 3 4 6 14 17 3 7 3 15 17 -5 29
16 Wolves 26 3 2 8 17 28 2 5 6 13 23 -21 22
17 QPR 26 2 4 7 13 21 3 2 8 14 24 -18 21
18 Blackburn 26 4 0 9 19 26 1 6 6 18 33 -22 21
19 Bolton 26 2 2 9 15 27 4 0 9 14 27 -25 20
20 Wigan 26 1 6 6 11 22 3 2 8 12 28 -27 20
After a humbling defeat to rivals Arsenal last week, Tottenham face another tough task against Manchester United in the Premier League.

The champions may have earned a last-gasp victory at Norwich, but a wounded Spurs at White Hart Lane will be a different prospect altogether.

Manchester City will be hoping United slip up as they look to extend their lead at the top with a win over Bolton, while Carling Cup winners Liverpool host Arsenal, still enjoying the 5-2 mauling of third placed Tottenham in Saturday's early kick-off.

Elsewhere, high flying Newcastle playing a resurgent Sunderland in what could be a memorable Tyne-Wear derby.

Premiership Games
Saturday 3rd March 2012
12:45 Liverpool v Arsenal Sky2
15:00 Blackburn v Aston Villa
15:00 Man City v Bolton
15:00 QPR v Everton  
15:00 Stoke v Norwich  
15:00 West Brom v Chelsea  
15:00 Wigan v Swansea  
Sunday 4th March 2012
12:00 Newcastle v Sunderland ESPN
14:05 Fulham v Wolves Sky1
16:10 Tottenham v Man Utd Sky1
Mid table Fulham welcome Wolves to Craven Cottage with the competitive visitors desperate for points but their poor defensive record won't help the Wolves

At the bottom of the league struggling Blackburn and Aston Villa battle for much-needed points at Ewood Park, a win for Blackburn should lift them out of the relegation zone.

Mark Hughes at QPR will be praying for three points today to avoid dropping into the bottom three and bringing his ambition into question

Saturday  3rd March 2012

12:45 - Liverpool (7) v Arsenal (4) ~ Sky2

Liverpool have been basking in glory after a penalty shootout success over Cardiff in their first Wembley visit since 1996.

It is back to league duty on Saturday lunchtime though, when Arsenal go to Anfield.

Both teams will be in high spirits following their victories last weekend but with a top four place up for grabs this season, there is no time to dwell on previous performances.

Liverpool currently trail the Gunners by seven points and have a game in hand over the Londoners - a win here would rekindle hopes of qualification for next year's UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is awaiting an update on captain Steven Gerrard's fitness after he injured a hamstring playing for England.

Defender Glen Johnson is expected to be fit after pulling out of the national squad on Monday as a precaution.

Centre-back Daniel Agger is expected to miss the next couple of weeks with a cracked rib, meaning Jamie Carragher is likely to get a recall.

Arsenal have injury concerns over captain Robin van Persie (groin) and centre-back Thomas Vermaelen (ankle).

Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey (ankle) has already been ruled out while Czech winger Tomas Rosicky (groin) faces a fitness test.

Abou Diaby returns from a long absence after a hamstring problem.

Last season: Arsenal 1 Liverpool 1, Liverpool 1 Arsenal 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 10; Robin van Persie (Arsenal) 29

Mark Halsey (Lancashire).

15:00 - Blackburn (18) v Aston Villa (15)

Aston Villa are experiencing challenges off and on the pitch.

The team have picked up just two points from a possible 12 in the Premier League and the club announced losses of £53. 9m for the financial year 2010-11.

Alex McLeish continues to frustrate a section of supporters with his tactics and with the side currently 15th in the table, they are in danger of slipping into the relegation dogfight.

Blackburn Rovers are their opponents and Steve Kean's men will surely be more expansive than they were during the 3-0 defeat at Manchester City.

Another protest against Kean's management will precede Saturday's match.

Blackburn welcome David Dunn back from a thigh injury but are sweating on the fitness of Martin Olsson, who picked up slight knee and ankle problems on international duty with Sweden.

Olsson's twin brother Marcus could make his home debut but defenders Jason Lowe and Gael Givet serve the final matches of their respective suspensions.

Aston Villa skipper Stiliyan Petrov will return after recovering from a thigh injury.

Right-back Alan Hutton (hamstring) and centre-back James Collins (knee) are expected to be available after withdrawing from mid-week international duty with Scotland and Wales respectively.

Last season: Aston Villa 4 Blackburn 1, Blackburn 2 Aston Villa 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Ayegbeni Yakubu (Blackburn) 14; Darren Bent (Aston Villa) 10

Howard Webb.

15:00 - Man City (1) v Bolton (19)

A home fixture against Bolton is one Manchester City will be expected to win as they look to consolidate their position at the top of the table.

City have won five successive matches in all competitions - an ominous statistic for Bolton whose form is poor.

Owen Coyle's men have only managed one point from a possible 12 and a second-half collapse at Chelsea last weekend leaves them second bottom.

However, a shock win at Eastlands could see Wanderers rise to 16th in the division, with just two points separating the bottom five.

Carlos Tevez featured in a behind-closed-doors game in midweek but is unlikely to play on Saturday, with top scorer Sergio Aguero set to keep his place in the starting XI.

Manchester City are close to full strength but manager Roberto Mancini is still to fully assess the fitness of all his players following their return from midweek international duty.

Striker Carlos Tevez had a successful run-out for the reserves this week after returning to training but is not yet ready for a first-team comeback.

Bolton midfielder Mark Davies (hamstring) is hoping to prove his fitness while veteran striker Kevin Davies (knee) is again doubtful and Iceland defender Gretar Steinsson (calf) will be assessed after suffering a knock on international duty.

On-loan Dedryck Boyata is ineligible to play against his parent club but fellow defender Joe Riley (foot) is back in contention.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Sergio Aguero (Man City) 21; Marvin Sordell (Bolton) 10

Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

15:00 - QPR (17) v Everton (10)  

Mark Hughes' frustration was clear to see following QPR's defeat to Fulham, and with the West Londoners having lost three on the bounce, they begin to find themselves in a precarious position.

Rangers are in danger of slipping back into the Championship after just one season in the top-flight if results do not improve, with Hughes' men in 17th - just one point ahead of bottom club Wigan.

This weekend Everton make the journey to Loftus Road and are full of confidence.

The Toffees are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and have enjoyed recent victories over Chelsea and Manchester City.

Luke Young could feature for QPR after a month sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Djibril Cisse and Samba Diakite will both miss the game through suspension.

Everton striker Nikica Jelavic could be set for a return to the squad after playing just 30 minutes since his January move from Rangers because of a groin injury.

Midfielders Jack Rodwell (hamstring) and Leon Osman (knee) could also be in line for a recall after appearing for the reserves but Darron Gibson is missing with a knee injury.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Heidar Helguson (QPR) 9; Nikica Jelavic (Everton) 17

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire).

15:00 - Stoke (12) v Norwich (8)

Norwich City go to the Britannia Stadium where Stoke lie in wait.

The Canaries were seconds away from securing a draw against Manchester United but despite the late heartbreak, they remain eighth in the table following a fantastic return to the Premier League.

Grant Holt is the man in form for Paul Lambert's men and will relish the physical challenge that Stoke pose.

The Potters had been stuttering before last weekend's victory over Swansea and will want to use that success as a platform to build on.

Stoke have defender Robert Huth back after he completed a three-match suspension following his sending-off against Sunderland last month.

Manager Tony Pulis will check on the condition of midfielder Glenn Whelan, who picked up a knock on international duty with the Republic of Ireland, ahead of kick-off.

Midfielder Jonny Howson could make his Norwich debut after finally returning to fitness from a knee injury.

Striker James Vaughan has picked up a hamstring problem which will delay his return from knee surgery, while full-back Marc Tierney (knee) is also out.

Centre-back Daniel Ayala (hamstring) trained this week, but may not be rushed straight into action.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Peter Crouch (Stoke) 10; Grant Holt (Norwich) 12

Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

15:00 - West Brom (13) v Chelsea (5)

Despite their 3-0 triumph last weekend the pressure still remains on Andre Villas-Boas ahead of Chelsea's clash with West Brom.

The manager admitted to a Portuguese radio station last week that he would not be surprised if Roman Abramovich wielded the axe, stating: "Let's see if he wants a change in the club or not."

Many believe Villas-Boas is on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge and with the club battling for fourth place in the Premier League, defeat at the Hawthorns may spell the end of his reign.

Albion produced an emphatic display to dispatch of Sunderland and with Peter Odemwingie in form they are dangerous opponents.

Winger Jerome Thomas is West Brom's new fitness doubt after suffering a hamstring injury during the 4-0 win over Sunderland.

Skipper Chris Brunt has returned to training after a two-month lay-off with a broken foot but Albion head coach Roy Hodgson is weighing up whether he is ready to return against the Blues.

Fellow midfielder Paul Scharner is making good progress with his rib injury but, even if available, is only likely to be among the substitutes after the demolition of the Black Cats.

Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge are expected to be fit for Chelsea.

Drogba has shaken off the knee problem that forced him to miss the Ivory Coast's friendly against Guinea, while Sturridge is expected to recover from the toe injury picked up in England's defeat against Holland.

Last season: West Brom 1 Chelsea 3, Chelsea 6 West Brom 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Keith Andrews (West Brom) 11; Frank Lampard (Chelsea) 12

Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

15:00 - Wigan (20) v Swansea (14)

Wigan were the dominant side during their goalless stalemate with Aston Villa but failed to capitalise and remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

However, a win at home to Swansea could see the Latics climb out of the bottom three into 16th.

Roberto Martinez's side are unbeaten in their last three matches but need to begin picking up wins if they are going to escape the drop for another year.

Martinez welcomes his former club to the DW Stadium with Brendan Rodgers' Swans in stuttering form.

They have lost back-to-back matches and will be looking to get back to winning ways.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez will have to make a late decision on the fitness of some of his internationals.

Paraguay defender Antolin Alcaraz and Honduras defender Maynor Figueroa both had long trips after playing for their countries in South America and were not expected to arrive back until later this afternoon.

Defender Gary Caldwell sustained a cut leg playing for Scotland in midweek but he is expected to recover.

Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm and strikers Danny Graham and Leroy Lita have overcome a virus and are available.

Midfielder Kemy Agustien is facing a lengthy lay-off after surgery revealed that his ankle injury was worse than first thought.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Franco Di Santo, Jordi Gomez & Ben Watson (Wigan) 4; Rory Donnelly & Danny Graham (Swansea) 12

Andre Marriner.

Sunday 4th March 2012

12:00 - Newcastle (6) v Sunderland (9) ~ ESPN

Local bragging rights will be at stake in the North East on Sunday when Newcastle and Sunderland contest the Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park.

The same fixture last season saw the Magpies run out 5-1 winners, while Alan Pardew's charges overcame Sunderland, then managed by Steve Bruce, 1-0 back in August thanks to Ryan Taylor's thunderbolt.

The Black Cats are due a result against their rivals, having not beaten them since 2008.

With Martin O'Neill at the helm they have belief back in the ranks and will be looking to bounce back from last weekend's 4-0 capitulation at West Brom - a rare poor display during O'Neill's reign.

Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse is expected to be fit after withdrawing from the Senegal squad in midweek with a groin problem.

Cheick Tiote will also be available after being rested following his return from international duty with the Ivory Coast.

However, striker Shola Ameobi is a doubt through illness.

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will assess striker Stephane Sessegnon after he was delayed returning from Benin's African Nations Cup 0-0 qualifier draw in Ethiopia on Wednesday.

Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson is expected to be available, despite complaining of feeling unwell before he scored twice in his country's 3-1 victory in Croatia, as is striker Nicklas Bendtner (ankle), but keeper Keiren Westwood (wrist) is out and Craig Gordon is likely to take his place on the bench and full-back Phil Bardsley (calf) remains a doubt.

Last season: Sunderland 1 Newcastle 1, Newcastle 5 Sunderland 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Demba Ba (Newcastle) 16; Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland) 7

Mike Dean (Wirral).

14:05 - Fulham (11) v Wolves (16) ~ Sky 1

Wolves fought back from two goals down to earn a point at Newcastle last time out in Terry Connor's first game as manager.

It was a positive start for Connor but plenty of work remains as the Black Country outfit are only one point above the relegation zone with 12 games remaining this term.

A win at Fulham on Sunday would go some way to easing the pressure but that is no easy task with the Cottagers in decent form and difficult to beat on home soil.

Three points for Martin Jol and co and they could move into eighth by the end of the weekend and they come into the game on the back of successive victories.

Former Real Madrid midfielder Mahamadou Diarra could make his Fulham debut after signing until the send of the season.

Fulham right-back Stephen Kelly is a doubt with a tear in his right quad, while midfielder Dickson Etuhu will be assessed when he flies back from international duty today.

Zdenek Grygera (knee) and Steve Sidwell (hernia) are the only first-team players unavailable.

Wolves' leading scorer Steven Fletcher is available again after an illness.

Caretaker boss Terry Connor has to decide how to accommodate Fletcher and fellow striker Kevin Doyle in the same line-up.

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and midfielder Dave Edwards should both be fit after being ruled out of the Gary Speed Memorial Match against Costa Rica with ankle injuries.

Last season: Wolves 1 Fulham 1, Fulham 2 Wolves 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Clint Dempsey (Fulham) 16; Steven Fletcher (Wolves) 10

Mike Jones (Cheshire).

16:10 - Tottenham (3) v Man Utd (2) ~ Sky1

Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs rolled back the years last weekend as Manchester United overcame Norwich thanks to an injury-time winner from the Welshman, leaving them two points adrift of City at the summit.

With their rivals expected to dispatch of Bolton on Saturday, United could be trailing the leaders by five points come kick-off against Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.

Spurs will be looking to restore pride following their defeat at Arsenal, although they are still well placed in third.

With both teams looking for the victory, this could be an enthralling encounter in North London

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is confident Gareth Bale will be fit despite missing the Gary Speed memorial match between Wales and Costa Rica.

Kyle Walker is fit despite suffering an ankle injury against Arsenal last week and Redknapp is also confident that Rafael van der Vaart (calf) and Ledley King (knee) will feature.

Scott Parker is suspended following his sending off at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.

Chris Smalling is Manchester United's only doubt after he required stitches in a head wound sustained playing for England.

Wayne Rooney has recovered from a throat infection but Antonio Valencia (hamstring), Tom Cleverley (ankle) and Michael Owen (thigh) are all out.

Last season: Tottenham 0 Man Utd 0, Man Utd 2 Tottenham 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jermain Defoe (Tottenham) 12; Wayne Rooney (Man Utd) 22

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Source Sporting Life/SkySports
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