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Premiership matchday 34 ~ Preview

last updated Saturday 12th April 2014, 11:19 AM

Premier League MatchDay 34
Saturday 12th April 2014
DateK.O.HomeAwayRefereeVenue TV
12:04 15:07C. PalaceAston VillaHoward WebbSelhurst Park
12:04 15:07FulhamNorwichMike Dean Craven Cottage
12:04 15:07SouthamptonCardiffJonathan MossSt Mary's Stadium
12:04 15:07StokeNewcastleMike Jones Britannia Stadium
12:04 15:07SunderlandEverton Lee ProbertStadium of Light
12:04 15:07West BromTottenhamNeil SwarbrickThe Hawthorns
F.A. Cup Semi Final
DateK.O.HomeAwayRefereeVenue TV
12:04 17:07WiganArsenalMichael Oliver Wembley StadiumITV
Sunday 13th April 2014
Premier League MatchDay 34
DateK.O.HomeAwayRefereeVenue TV
13:04 13:37LiverpoolMan CityMark ClattenburgAnfieldSky1
13:04 16:07SwanseaChelsea Phil DowdLiberty StadiumSky1
Liverpool entertain Manchester City and Chelsea going to Swansea City offering a greater indication as to where the Premier League title will end up this season.

Prior to a mouth-watering double-header at the top of the table, events on Saturday will see the battle to beat the drop thrust back under the spotlight.

Norwich City will be under the guidance of Neil Adams for the first time when they take in a relegation six-pointer at Fulham, while Sunderland will be looking to climb off the foot of the division when they host top-four hopefuls Everton.

Cardiff City really need to take something from a trip to Southampton, as do West Bromwich Albion from a home date with Tottenham Hotspur.

Crystal Palace will be hoping to stretch their winning run when Aston Villa travel to the capital, and the only game which would appear to have little riding on it will see Stoke City tangle with out-of-sorts Newcastle United.

Premier League ~ Saturday 12th April March 2014

Premier League ~ 15:07 C. Palace v Aston Villa

Crystal Palace and Aston Villa go head-to-head at Selhurst Park. Palace, who appeared to have a mountain to climb when Tony Pulis inherited their managerial reins from the beleaguered Ian Holloway in November, are riding the crest of a wave they hope will carry them away from danger and keep their head above water.

Back-to-back wins over Chelsea and, more importantly, Cardiff have lifted the Eagles seven points clear of the bottom three, and one more success may be enough to see them safe. The same can be said for Villa, who sit level on points with Palace, but they need to find a way of halting a run of three straight defeats if a wobble is to avoid becoming an alarming slump.

Palace manager Tony Pulis hopes to have a fully-fit squad to choose from. Dwight Gayle returned from an ankle injury to score five goals in an under-21s fixture against Brentford on Wednesday night but the young striker is not considered ready to start.

Striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and midfielders Fabian Delph and Karim El Ahmadi missed last weekend's 2-1 defeat for Villa at home to Fulham either through illness or injury, but all have trained this week and should return to the starting line-up. Villa boss Paul Lambert remains without six long-term injured in Christian Benteke, Libor Kozak, Charles N'Zogbia, Jores Okore, Nicklas Helenius and Gary Gardner.

Last season:: No corresponding fixture

Last five league matches: Crystal Palace L D L W W; Aston Villa W W L L L

Top scorers (all competitions): Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace) 6; Christian Benteke (Aston Villa) 11

Referee: Howard Webb (South Yorkshire)

Verdict: Crystal Palace 0 Aston Villa 0

Premier League ~ 15:07 Fulham v Norwich

A fixture that will have plenty riding on it as we approach the business end of the 2013/14 campaign will be staged at Craven Cottage, with Fulham and Norwich City leaving themselves with little margin for error. Victory over Aston Villa last time out has offered renewed hope to the Cottagers in their efforts to beat the drop, with five points now separating them from safety.

The side they are looking to chase down are Norwich City, who have parted company with manager Chris Hughton in the wake of back-to-back defeats and a run of one win in six and replaced him with youth team coach Adams. With Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to come in their final four games, the Canaries' top-flight status could rest on their result in west London on Saturday.

Fulham defender Dan Burn is fit after a muscle problem while midfielders Scott Parker and Giorgos Karagounis also return to the squad. Club record signing Kostas Mitroglou remains sidelined with a knee injury but loanee Darren Bent could feature having missed the win over parent club Aston Villa last weekend.

Defender Michael Turner and Leroy Fer could be in contention to return for Norwich after recovering from hamstring injuries and Wes Hoolahan is expected to be included in caretaker manager Neil Adams' first starting XI since he succeeded the sacked Chris Hughton last Sunday. Defender Sebastien Bassong should be fit following a knock, but Elliott Bennett (knee) is again involved with the under-21s.

Last season:: Norwich 0 Fulham 0, Fulham 5 Norwich 0

Last five league matches: Fulham L W L L W; Norwich D L W L L Top scorers: Steven Sidwell (Fulham) 7; Gary Hooper (Norwich) 7

Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Verdict: Fulham 1 Norwich 0

Premier League ~ 15:07 Southampton v Cardiff

Southampton had been hoping that they, like Tottenham, would be among those staging a continental push at this stage, but they have fallen away and will have to make do with a solid top-half standing. They are moving in the right direction, though, which is more than can be said for their weekend opponents Cardiff City.

The Bluebirds have never got going this season, and find themselves languishing in the relegation zone as a result. The clock is ticking on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's bid to turn the tide, with it possible that they could end the latest round of fixtures in 20th spot. Three defeats in four - including costly dropped points against West Brom and Crystal Palace - will have done little for fragile confidence, while their record against the Saints makes for dismal reading. Cardiff's last success on the south coast came way back in 1962, and they failed to muster a single shot on target when the two sides met in South Wales on Boxing Day.

Southampton's Jay Rodriguez will miss the next six months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and could be joined on the sidelines for Cardiff's visit this weekend by several other first-team players.

The England international suffered the injury during last weekend's 4-1 defeat at Manchester City - a match which Gaston Ramirez (ankle) and Artur Boruc (back) missed through injury. The pair will be assessed before Saturday's match, which back-up goalkeeper Kelvin Davis is likely to sit out due to a hip problem. Maya Yoshida (knee) is a long-term absentee.

Last season:: No corresponding fixture

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) 17; Fraizer Campbell (Cardiff) 9

Referee: Jon Moss (West Yorkshire)

Verdict: Southampton 3 Cardiff 0

Premier League ~ 15:07 Stoke v Newcastle 

It is rare at this stage of the season - given how tight things are at the top of the bottom - to find a fixture that will barely register on the Premier League radar. Stoke City and Newcastle United have, however, plodded their way into mid-table - doing just about enough to ensure that they will steer well clear trouble, but not quite enough to put themselves in the race for Europe.

It may be a case of going through the motions at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, but there are still points to be taken and pride to be played for, and that should ensure that the tie remains competitive. Stoke head into the game in much the better form having won four of their last six, with Newcastle losing three on the bounce -conceding 10 goals without reply.

Charlie Adam is hoping to play despite needing an operation on a broken nose. The midfielder suffered the injury in training but the club are hopeful he will be able to play wearing a mask. Fellow midfielder Stephen Ireland has recovered from illness but Matthew Etherington (back) is expected to join winger Oussama Assaidi and centre-back Robert Huth (both knee) on the sidelines.

Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul could return having missed the last two games with a knee injury. The Dutchman is back in training and could replace understudy Rob Elliot at the Britannia Stadium. Striker Loic Remy has also returned to training after his calf problem but will not be risked at Stoke, while full-back Mathieu Debuchy (groin) and midfielder Moussa Sissoko (hamstring) are still out.

Last season:: Newcastle 2 Stoke 1, Stoke 2 Newcastle 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Peter Crouch (Stoke) 9; Loic Remy (Newcastle) 13

Referee: Mike Jones (Cheshire)

Verdict: Stoke 2 Newcastle 1

Premier League ~ 15:07 Sunderland v Everton 

Sunderland are very much stuck in a rut, with seven defeats in their last eight sinking them to rock-bottom. Gus Poyet conceded after a 5-1 hammering at Tottenham on Monday that his side may now require 'a miracle' in order to keep themselves among English football's elite. Things are not about to get any easier for the Wearsiders either, with Everton the next side to visit the Stadium of Light.

Their 3-0 win over Arsenal last time out has them sat just one point adrift of the Gunners in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification - and they still hold a game in hand on Arsene Wenger's side. With Arsenal in FA Cup action this weekend, victory in the North East on Saturday - which would make it seven in a row - would lift the Toffees into the top four and have them dreaming of a seat at Europe's top table.

Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher is unlikely to play again this season because of his ankle injury. The 27-year-old Scotland international has missed the last four games. Manager Gus Poyet is otherwise remaining coy over a series of minor knocks, but goalkeeper Keiren Westwood is still sidelined by a shoulder problem.

Midfielder Leon Osman is Everton's only doubt. The 32-year-old had to have five stitches in an eye wound early in last weekend's victory over Arsenal and as of Thursday his left eye had not fully reopened. Defender Phil Jagielka (hamstring) could be fit to return for next weekend's visit of Manchester United.

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

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Adam Johnson (Sunderland) 10; Romelu Lukaku (Everton) 14

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)

Verdict: Sunderland 0 Everton 2

Premier League ~ 15:07 West Brom v Tottenham 

Tottenham Hotspur are still clinging to the hope that they could make a late surge in that particular race and pip their rivals at the post. There is, however, a five-point gap to bridge if they are to upset the odds, and events off the field are doing Spurs few favours as they attempt to end the campaign on a high.

Speculation regarding the future of manager Tim Sherwood was brushed aside in spectacular fashion against Sunderland on Monday, but reports that he is to be relieved of his duties regardless of results from here on in are set to drag on into the summer - providing an unwelcome distraction. West Bromwich Albion will be hoping that Spurs take their eye off the ball at The Hawthorns, with a four-point haul from their last two outings edging them away from the drop zone, but leaving plenty of work still to be done.

West Brom head coach Pepe Mel's hopes of fielding an unchanged side for the first time hinge on midfielder James Morrison's fitness. The Scot is a doubt for Saturday's clash with Tottenham with an ankle problem and may be replaced by fit-again captain Chris Brunt, who is back after ligament trouble. Claudio Yacob (hamstring) is fully fit again and Mel's only other injury is to Zoltan Gera, who will miss most of the remainder of the season with a hamstring problem.

Tottenham will still be without six first-team regulars. Roberto Soldado has returned to training following a hamstring issue but will not be fit to travel while midfield pair Mousa Dembele (hip) and Etienne Capoue (foot) are also missing. Kyle Walker (pelvis) remains sidelined alongside Erik Lamela (back) and Jan Vertonghen (ankle).

Last season:: West Brom 0 Tottenham 1, Tottenham 1 West Brom 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Saido Berahino (West Brom) 8; Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham) 13

Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)

Verdict: West Brom 1 Tottenham 1

Premier League ~ Sunday 13th April March 2014

Premier League ~ 13:37 Liverpool v Man City ~ SkySports 1    

All eyes this weekend will be on events at Anfield, with Liverpool and Manchester City set to lock horns in a potentially pivotal clash which could determine the destination of the top-flight crown. The Reds lead the way heading into a heavyweight encounter on Merseyside, with Brendan Rodgers' side having opened up a two-point lead on the chasing pack.

Nine wins in a row have carried them to the summit, and a 10th would make them firm favourites to end a 24-year wait for title glory. City, though, have played two fixtures fewer than their title rivals and know a positive result of any kind in their next outing will keep their fate squarely in their own hands.

Centre-back Daniel Agger returns to Liverpool's squad after the defender missed last weekend's win at West Ham with a knee problem, but is fit again to challenge Mamadou Sakho for his first-team place. Only long-term injured left-back Jose Enrique remains unavailable for selection.

Manchester City top scorer Sergio Aguero could return. The Argentinian striker has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury but has been back training with the squad for the past week. Defender Matija Nastasic (knee) is the only notable absentee with midfielder Yaya Toure having overcome a knock suffered in last week's win over Southampton.

Last season:: Man City 2 Liverpool 2, Liverpool 2 Man City 2

Last five league matches: Liverpool W W W W W; Man City W W W D W

Top scorers (all competitions): Luis Suarez (Liverpool) 29; Sergio Aguero (Man City) 26

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Verdict: Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2

Premier League ~ 16:07 Swansea v Chelsea ~ SkySports 1  

One man who will be watching T.V. on Sunday is Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, as he prepares his side for a trip to Swansea City. Events at the Liberty Stadium will be broadcast live once the final whistle blows at Anfield, and by then the Blues will know what they have to do in order to keep themselves in the hunt.

Mourinho's men sit second, but have City breathing down their neck and have been left kicking themselves in recent weeks after suffering untimely setbacks at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. Progress in Europe should have them in buoyant mood, though, for a meeting with a Swansea side that is perched six points above the drop zone and still looking anxiously over its shoulder.

Swansea head coach Garry Monk has reported no new injury worries. The Swans are looking to bounce back from last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Hull. That result means they are still not guaranteed safety from relegation, and they now face a Chelsea side fresh from booking their place in the Champions League semi-finals.

Chelsea forward Eden Hazard is likely to miss out with a calf injury sustained against Paris St Germain on Tuesday night. Mohamed Salah and Nemanja Matic are available after being ineligible in Champions League competition, while midfielder Ramires is back from a three-match domestic ban following his dismissal in the controversial loss at Aston Villa. Demba Ba, who scored the goal which took Chelsea into the Champions League semi-finals on Tuesday night, could start a first Premier League game since October after being used mainly as a substitute this term.

Last season:: Chelsea 2 Swansea 0, Swansea 1 Chelsea 1

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

Top scorers (all competitions): Wilfried Bony (Swansea) 20; Eden Hazard (Chelsea) 17

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Verdict: Swansea 2 Chelsea 0

Source Sky/ Sporting Life
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