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Premiership MatchDay 31 ~ Preview

last updated Saturday 22nd March 2014, 11:39 AM

Premier League MatchDay 31 kicks off with the Chelsea and Arsenal clash in the early kick-off on Saturday. Jose Mourinho's side easily progressed passed Galatasaray in midweek, but ever since their defeat at Aston Villa last weekend - they have have had one eye on their game with Arsenal. The game sees a landmark for Arsene Wenger as it is his 1,000th as Arsenal manager, and he would love to mark the occasion with his first ever win over Jose Mourinho

Premier League MatchDay 31
Saturday 22nd March 2014
DateK.O.HomeTeamAwayTeamRefereeVenue TV
22-0312:45ChelseaArsenalAndre Marriner Stamford BridgeBT1
22-0315:00CardiffLiverpoolNeil Swarbrick Cardiff City Stadium  
22-03 15:00EvertonSwanseaMichael OliverGoodison Park
22-0315:00HullWest BromChris Foy K.C. Stadium
22-0315:00Man CityFulhamJonathan MossEtihad Stadium
22-0315:00Newcastle C. PalaceLee Probert St James' Park
22-0315:00NorwichSunderlandPhil DowdCarrow Road
22-0317:30West HamMan UtdLee MasonUpton ParkSky1
Sunday 23rd March 2014
DateK.O.HomeTeam AwayTeamReferee Venue TV
23-0313:30TottenhamSouthamptonAntony TaylorWhite Hart LaneSky1
23-0316:00Aston VillaStokeMark ClattenburgVilla ParkSky1
Struggling Cardiff City are the next side charged with the task of trying to derail Liverpool's Premier League title charge. The Bluebirds enter the weekend sat second from bottom in the standings, three points from safety. Liverpool will be determined to ensure that the Welsh outfit are kept firmly rooted in trouble when they head out on the road this Saturday. The in-form Reds have collected five successive wins to move to within four points of top spot with a game in hand on leaders Chelsea.

Everton can climb into the top five and push Swansea City a little deeper into the mire at Goodison Park on Saturday.Swansea will be determined to prevent the hosts completing a hat-trick this weekend, but have little cause for optimism heading into the clash.

Hull City and West Bromwich Albion will be looking to edge away from trouble when they meet at the KC Stadium on Saturday.West Brom, though, will travel to East Yorkshire looking to clamber above Bruce's side and offer themselves a little more breathing space.

Manchester City continue their Premier League title bid against bottom-of-the-table Fulham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. The Capital One Cup winners currently trail leaders Chelsea by six points, but have three games in hand after playing just three times in the Premier League since losing 1-0 at home to Jose Mourinho's side on 3rd February. Fulham's last victory over City came at the Etihad in April 2009 when they overturned a half-time deficit to win 3-1 thanks to Clint Dempsey's double. The Cottagers secured a first league win, and first under Felix Magath, since New Year's Day last weekend

Premiership table - after Week 30 Results
Pos Team Pld W D L F A W D L F A GD Pts
1 Chelsea 30 13 2 0 33 9 7 4 4 23 14 33 66
2 Liverpool 29 12 1 1 42 12 7 4 4 34 23 41 62
3 Arsenal 29 10 3 1 26 7 9 2 4 27 21 25 62
4 Man City 27 12 0 1 43 9 7 3 4 28 18 44 60
5 Tottenham 30 7 3 5 16 19 9 2 4 21 19 -1 53
6 Everton 28 10 3 1 26 11 4 6 4 14 17 12 51
7 Man Utd 29 6 3 5 18 15 8 3 4 28 19 12 48
8 Southampton 30 6 5 4 25 21 6 4 5 18 16 6 45
9 Newcastle 29 6 3 5 18 19 7 1 7 19 21 -3 43
10 Aston Villa 29 5 2 8 17 22 4 5 5 15 16 -6 34
11 Stoke 30 7 6 2 21 15 1 4 10 11 29 -12 34
12 West Ham 29 5 3 6 20 20 3 4 8 12 18 -6 31
13 Hull 29 5 4 6 17 16 3 2 9 13 21 -7 30
14 Swansea 29 4 5 6 26 23 3 3 8 12 20 -5 29
15 Norwich 30 5 6 4 13 12 2 2 11 11 36 -24 29
16 West Brom 29 3 7 5 16 19 2 6 6 17 24 -10 28
17 C. Palace 29 6 2 7 13 18 2 2 10 6 20 -19 28
18 Sunderland 27 3 3 8 13 21 3 4 6 13 21 -16 25
19 Cardiff 30 5 4 6 15 23 1 3 11 8 29 -29 25
20 Fulham 30 4 1 10 18 31 3 2 10 12 34 -35 24
Crystal Palace head to the North East for the second weekend in a row as the relegation strugglers look to end a drought against Newcastle United. Tony Pulis' side drew 0-0 at Sunderland last week and Palace have failed to score in their last six meetings with Newcastle in all competitions. Newcastle, however, have been struggling at home of late, with Loic Remy's last-gasp winner against Aston Villa last month ending a run of four straight league defeats at St James' Park. The Magpies will again be without their manager Alan Pardew, who continues to serve a stadium ban for head-butting Hull City midfielder David Meyler during the 4-1 win at the KC Stadium earlier this month.

Norwich and Sunderland will both be desperate to bank three points from Saturday's vital clash at Carrow Road. Chris Hughton's hosts know a win on home soil would deal a massive blow to Sunderland's survival hopes, as the Black Cats are three points from safety and four behind the Canaries. Sunderland arrive with a half-decent away record in the league, having won three and drawn four of their 13 games so far this season. But scoring goals is their Achilles heel, having found the net just 13 times on their league travels.

Manchester United will be hoping the UEFA Champions League win over Olympiakos does not prove to be another false dawn when David Moyes takes his team to West Ham United. West Ham are a team on a three-match winning streak at home which has helped to ease the club's relegation fears. Successive away defeats by Everton and Stoke, though, have ensured West Ham are not safe yet in 12th position and six points ahead of the bottom three.

Tottenham look to return to form as they host Southampton at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Tim Sherwood's side have not won since the start of March and are licking their wounds following defeats to rivals Chelsea and Arsenal, whilst also going out of the Europa League to Benfica. The Saints come into the game in good form following back to back wins over Crystal Palace and Norwich and they will be looking for their first win at White Hart Lane since 2003.

Two sides locked together in mid-table on 34 points go head-to-head on Sunday as Aston Villa entertain Stoke City. Hosts Villa currently occupy a standing inside the top 10, with a superior goal difference edging them into the top half. They have also played one game fewer than the Potters and will feel that they should be looking up rather than down. The same can be said for Stoke, who have taken seven points from their last three Premier League fixtures to pull away from trouble.

Premier League ~ Saturday 22 March 2014

Premier League ~ 12:45 Chelsea v Arsenal ~ BTSport 1

Chelsea come into their showdown with capital rivals Arsenal having comfortably negotiated a route into the Champions League quarter-finals, where they will face Paris Saint-Germain. They need to get their league form back on track quickly, however, as defeat at Aston Villa last time out reduced their lead at the top of the table to just four points - and their challengers all have games in hand.

Wenger is yet to get the better of Mourinho (the Portuguese has five wins and five draws from their previous meetings) and was knocked out of the Capital One Cup by the Blues boss earlier in the season. Defeat at the Bridge would be a crippling blow to the Gunners, although they were London derby winners last weekend when Tomas Rosicky's early goal sank Tottenham at White Hart Lane.

Midfielders Ramires and Willian are suspended for Chelsea following their dismissals in the controversial loss at Aston Villa. Ramires begins a three-match ban and Willian is unavailable for one game. Left-back Ashley Cole (knee) is missing against his former club, while Nemanja Matic and Mohamed Salah are available after being ineligible in Europe in midweek.

Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky faces a fitness test on an ankle problem. Mesut Ozil (hamstring) remains out, but Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom (back) could be in the squad for the first time. Midfielder Aaron Ramsey (thigh) is still a couple of weeks away from full fitness, while Jack Wilshere (foot), Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby (both knee) remain out.

Last season: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1, Arsenal 1 Chelsea 2

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 15; Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) 18

Referee: Andre Marriner

Verdict: Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1

Premier League ~ 15:00 Cardiff City v Liverpool

Liverpool continued their rampant form with a 3-0 victory at Manchester United last Sunday; in their 10 league fixtures in 2014, they have dropped just four points. The Reds, who are level with Arsenal in the table, now head to south Wales to take on next-to-bottom Cardiff, who went down 2-1 at Everton in their most recent excursion.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was a deadly goalscorer in his playing days, but his side will have to be at their very best to have any chance of keeping Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge quiet - the strike partnership has supplied 43 top-flight goals to the Liverpool cause already this season. Suarez scored twice against Cardiff in a 3-1 win at Anfield back in December.

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has pretty much a fully-fit squad to choose from, with his side encouraged by last weekend's performance at Everton when they succumbed to an injury-time goal.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has no new injury concerns ahead of the trip. He will select from the same squad which defeated Manchester United 3-0 at Old Trafford last weekend and there are likely to be few changes to the starting line-up. Midfielder Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho both returned to the bench for that game after long lay-offs and will be included again in south Wales.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff) 8; Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 25

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

Verdict: Cardiff 1 Liverpool 3

Premier League ~ 15:00 Everton v Swansea City

Everton increasingly appear to be in a straight fight with Tottenham for a fifth-place finish and qualification for next season's Europa League play-off round. On Saturday, the Toffees host Roberto Martinez's former club Swansea at fortress Goodison Park knowing victory would move them above Spurs in the table for at least 24 hours.

The Swans have only won two of their last 15 league games (only Cardiff are in worse form) and have never beaten Everton in any competition. Garry Monk has demanded a reaction from his players after their disappointing display against West Brom last weekend.

Everton captain Phil Jagielka is rated at 50-50 to make his return against the Swans. The centre-back has missed three matches with a hamstring injury and, if he is not considered fit enough, John Stones will continue to deputise. Midfielder Steven Pienaar, who missed last week's win over Cardiff with a knee cartilage problem, is expected to be out for a further two to three weeks.

Striker Michu is set to continue on the comeback trail for Swansea. Michu returned off the bench after three months out with an ankle injury when Swansea lost at home to West Brom last weekend. Jonjo Shelvey, who has had hamstring trouble, looks poised to feature, along with Nathan Dyer, who also missed the Albion clash as he rested a heel injury.

Last season: Everton 0 Swansea 0, Swansea 0 Everton 3

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 11; Wilfried Bony (Swansea) 18

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

Verdict: Everton 2 Swansea 1

Premier League ~ 15:00 Hull City v West Brom 

Pepe Mel was able to celebrate a first Premier League win since taking charge when he guided West Brom to a shock 2-1 success at Swansea last Saturday. Next for the Baggies is a trip to the KC Stadium to take on Hull and former Albion striker Shane Long, who has scored three goals in seven games since his January switch.

Hull's home form has been poor since they signed off in 2013 with a 6-0 thrashing of Fulham; they have drawn one and lost four of their league fixtures at the KC since then.

Hull boss Steve Bruce will be without winger George Boyd, who begins his three-match suspension for spitting at Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart during last week's defeat. Bruce has no fresh injury concerns.

Defender Jonas Olsson has joined West Brom's list of unavailable players as the vice-captain begins a two-game ban. With first-choice skipper Chris Brunt already out with a knee problem, Gareth McAuley is taking the armband this weekend. Diego Lugano (knee), Billy Jones and Claudio Yacob (both hamstring) and Morgan Amalfitano (knee) all remain sidelined.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Matt Fryatt (Hull) 8; Saido Berahino (West Brom) 8

Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside)

Verdict: Hull 1 West Brom 2

Premier League ~ 15:00 Manchester City v Fulham 

Due to their recent cup exploits, Manchester City are still playing catch-up in the table as they seek to rein in the teams above them and land a second title in three seasons. One eye will no doubt be on Tuesday's forthcoming derby trip across town to face United but before that, Fulham come calling at the Etihad on Saturday.

Felix Magath claimed his first win in charge of the Cottagers last weekend against Newcastle, and he may try to draw inspiration from the equivalent fixture in late April 2008, when Roy

Hodgson engineered a 3-2 victory away to City that paved the way for an unlikely 'Great Escape'. Manchester City are without captain Vincent Kompany and top scorer Sergio Aguero. Defender Kompany is serving a one-match ban after his sending off at Hull last Saturday, while striker Aguero is still nursing the hamstring injury which forced him off in Barcelona last week. Centre-back Matija Nastasic (knee) is likely to be out at least another fortnight, but striker Stevan Jovetic (hamstring) is back in contention.

Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah has been ruled out with a muscle problem. Striker Kostas Mitroglou is missing with a knee problem sustained last week, but is expected to return against Everton on March 30. Midfielder Scott Parker remains in the treatment room with his knee injury, while winger Damien Duff is out for the rest of the season, also because of a knee issue.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Sergio Aguero (Man City) 26; Konstantinos Mitroglou (Fulham) 17

Referee: Jon Moss

Verdict: Manchester City 3 Fulham 0

Premier League ~ 15:00 Newcastle United v Crystal Palace 

Palace are in the north east for the second weekend running - but Eagles boss Tony Pulis will not be able to shake hands with his managerial counterpart. Alan Pardew must serve the second game of his three-match stadium ban so his assistant John Carver takes charge of Newcastle for the afternoon.

The Magpies turned in a slick performance when they brushed Palace aside 3-0 earlier in the season, but the since-departed Yohan Cabaye was the star of the show at Selhurst Park that day and United have lost four of their last six league games.

Midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa will return to the Newcastle squad after missing the last three games through injury and personal concerns. Sammy Ameobi, who has recovered from a knee problem, is also back. Manager Alan Pardew serves the second game of his stadium ban and he will be joined on the sidelines by full-back Davide Santon - suffering from tonsillitis after shaking off a knee injury - goalkeeper Rob Elliot (knee), defender Mathieu Debuchy (groin) and striker Loic Remy (calf).

Crystal Palace will be without forwards Marouane Chamakh (hamstring) and Dwight Gayle (ankle). Midfielder Barry Bannan could be included in the squad again following illness, while defender Danny Gabbidon is another hoping to be involved after working on match fitness.

Last season: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Loic Remy (Newcastle) 13; Tom Ince (Crystal Palace) 8

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Verdict: Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0

Premier League ~ 15:00 Norwich City v Sunderland 

Sunderland have either two or three games in hand on the teams around them - one of which is Norwich, who they face at Carrow Road. Wes Brown was sent off late on when the two clubs played out a stalemate on Wearside just before Christmas, and the Black Cats' last outing also finished goalless against another relegation rival, Crystal Palace.

Goals are therefore likely to be at a premium in this fixture, and Chris Hughton will be desperate to nick three points having come in for further criticism from Canaries fans when his team went down 4-2 at Southampton.

Norwich are unlikely to throw fit-again defender Michael Turner straight back into action, having just recovered from a hamstring injury. On-loan Newcastle winger Jonas Gutierrez also played for Norwich Under-21s in midweek after his calf problem, but he is also not expected to be in the match-day squad. Midfielder Leroy Fer (hamstring) remains out, while winger Elliott Bennett has finally returned to training following seven months of rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher will miss the trip after damaging an ankle during the first half of last Saturday's goalless draw with Crystal Palace. However, manager Gus Poyet has a near-full-strength squad from which to select with only goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) otherwise on the casualty list.

Last season: Sunderland 1 Norwich 1, Norwich 2 Sunderland 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Gary Hooper (Norwich) 7; Adam Johnson (Sunderland) 9

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Verdict: Norwich 0 Sunderland 1

Premier League ~ 17:30 West Ham United v Manchester United ~ Sky1

Manchester United's reward for Champions League progress was a tie with reigning European Cup holders Bayern Munich, and that quarter-final pairing has lifted the mood at Old Trafford after Sunday's humbling by Liverpool. Now David Moyes must focus minds for a Saturday Night Football encounter at West Ham, who are still fourth in the form guide despite losing their last two games.

United have scored 10 goals in their previous three league trips to Upton Park, and have also looked solid at the back on their domestic travels of late. Robin van Persie will not be involved, however, after he sustained a knee injury against Olympiakos. The Netherlands striker will also miss Tuesday's derby visit of City and could be sidelined for six weeks in total.

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce will still be without defender Joey O'Brien and forward Marco Borriello. O'Brien has not featured since a 0-0 draw at Chelsea in January, due to a dislocated shoulder, and on-loan AC Milan striker Borriello remains sidelined with a calf injury. Midfielder Joe Cole came off the bench in last weekend's defeat at Stoke for only his second league appearance of the year and will be pushing for a start.

Striker Robin van Persie will miss the match because of a knee injury. United will assess winger Antonio Valencia after he sustained a gruesome black eye against Olympiacos in midweek. Defenders Jonny Evans (calf) and Chris Smalling (hamstring) are doubtful, but Nemanja Vidic is definitely out through suspension.

Last season: West Ham 2 Man Utd 2, Man Utd 1 West Ham 0

Last five league matches: West Ham W W W L L; Man Utd D D W W L

Top scorers (all competitions): Kevin Nolan (West Ham) 7; Robin van Persie (Man Utd) 17

Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

Verdict: West Ham 1 Manchester United 1

Premier League ~ Sunday 23 March 2014

Premier League ~ 13:30 Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton ~ Sky1

Tottenham came close to pulling off a Europa League turnaround in Lisbon on Thursday, but eventually bowed out at the last-16 stage in a 5-3 aggregate defeat to Benfica. With Everton and United also having designs on top-six berths, Spurs' involvement in the competition next season is uncertain - and their Super Sunday visitors Southampton are by no means out of contention either.

Victories over Crystal Palace and Norwich have reignited Mauricio Pochettino's hopes of a high finish, and the Argentinian's reputation continues to grow. Tim Sherwood's first game in charge of Spurs was a 3-2 triumph at St Mary's, and having been hugely encouraged by his side's performance at the Estadio da Luz, he will now be hoping to do the double over Saints.

Emmanuel Adebayor, Mousa Dembele and Younes Kaboul could all return for Tottenham. The trio missed the 2-2 draw at Benfica through injury. Jan Vertonghen will also again be available, having been suspended for Thursday's Europa League tie. Michael Dawson, Vlad Chiriches, Kyle Walker, Erik Lamela, Etienne Capoue, Paulinho and Hugo Lloris all missed the trip to Portugal and are unlikely to return

Morgan Schneiderlin and Guly Do Prado are rated as doubtful for the Saints. Midfielder Schneiderlin has a muscle problem around his pelvis, leaving Southampton short of options in midfield, with Jack Cork and Victor Wanyama still out. Kelvin Davis also faces a late fitness test.

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

Last five league matches: Tottenham W L W L L; Southampton W L L W W

Top scorers (all competitions): Emmanuel Adebayor & Roberto Soldado (Tottenham) 11; Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) 14

Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)

Verdict: Tottenham 1 Southampton 0

Premier League ~ 16:00 Aston Villa v Stoke City ~ Sky1

The Sunday double header concludes with a mid-table meeting at Villa Park, where Aston Villa entertain Stoke. This has the potential to be a bruising battle - no Premier League club has committed more fouls than these two so far this season - and five Villa players were cautioned in the Britannia Stadium clash back in December, in which Peter Crouch scored against his old club to give Stoke a 2-1 win.

However, having previously struggled on home soil this season, Villa have been applauded off by their own supporters twice already this month after beating Norwich 4-1 and Chelsea 1-0. Mark Hughes' Potters are also in good form, claiming seven points in March, and three points here would strengthen their quest for a first top-half finish.

Ryan Bertrand returns to the Aston Villa squad after he was forced to sit out last weekend's 1-0 victory over parent club Chelsea, with Joe Bennett deputising. Midfielder Karim El Ahmadi is fit despite picking up a shin injury against Chelsea.

Winger Oussama Assaidi could make his return for Stoke. Assaidi, on loan from Liverpool, has been working his way back to fitness after a knee injury and will be checked ahead of the match, along with defender Erik Pieters. He limped off in last weekend's 3-1 win over West Ham, having taken a knock to the leg. Robert Huth (knee) is out for the rest of the season and both Charlie Adam and Jon Walters remain suspended, while Stephen Ireland has to miss the game against his parent club.

Last season: Stoke 1 Aston Villa 3, Aston Villa 0 Stoke 0

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 10; Charlie Adam & Peter Crouch (Stoke) 8

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Verdict: Aston Villa 2 Stoke 0

Source Sky/ Sporting Life
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