Friday, 24 December 2010

Premier League Preview - Boxing Day 2010

Until we do have a winter-break, the holiday fixtures start with nine games on Boxing Day before Chelsea make their way through London to the Emirates on Monday night. Each team will play four games between December 26th 2010 and January 5th 2011, weather permitting of course. Every team will be looking for at least 8 from twelve, with those at the top and the bottom having so few points between them.

How do you solve a problem like Didier? Does Mr Wenger have any idea? Lets hope so because his team need to start picking up points when playing their nearest rivals having already lost to Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs this year. Didier Drogba hasn't been at his best this season but he has a very good record against the Gunners of a goal a game.

With Frank Lampard back, Carlo Ancelotti's men will fancy their chances against the home teams central defence of Laurent Koscielny and Seb Sqillaci who aren't exactly setting the world alight with their performances. Lucask Fbianski should return in goal and Cesc Fabregas is fit and expected to start. Jose Bosingwa returns to the Chelsea squad after his hamstring injury.

KEY MAN: Cesc Fabregas - Arsenal need their Captain to be at his best.

Neither Luke or Ashley Young have worked with the squad this week so neither is expected to make any appearance. While Steve Sidwell will remain rested while a deal is negotiated with Londoners, West Ham. Gerard Houiller will be glad to have Sylvian Petrov on the bench against 'Arry's lively team.

Whispers continue that Robbie Keane will be leaving to find first-team football elsewhere. Younes Kaboul and Rafael Van der Vaart are both fit while there is good news for Jonathon Woodgate who has returned to training. Ten spots seperate the teams and both will want to start the holiday period with three points.

KEY MAN: Jermaine Defoe - Will relish the chance to link up with Rafa VDV.

An interesting meeting between two teams who have dreams of higher aspirations and a real chance for Steve Kean to show the owners he can get the team where they want it to be; after his whirlwind trip to India. Tit-for-tat newspaper revelations starring him and defender Chris Samba won't have helped team harmony but he is said to have money to spend next month.

Tony Pulis has no new injury worries and can breathe a sigh of relief as Thomas Sorensen and Jon Walters are both back although, it is unlikely Sorensen will displace Amir Begovic. Stoke have the chance of moving above the home team in the league and will attack with that in mind.

KEY MAN: Matthew Etherington - Needs to have a good game in a congested midfield.

With their last match against Spurs being postponed, Blackpool will start without Charlie Adam who still has to serve a one-match ban. Having already beaten Liverpool once this season the Seasiders will know it is possible to get these three points, although they won't take them lightly. It will be interesting to see how he opts to deal with a returning Stevie G.

Roy Hodgson cannot afford to to drop any more points the way he has been, as fans and the boardroom continue to get increasingly fidgety. Players other than Stevie G and Pepe Reina need to start taking responsibility for results instead of appearing so easily defeated when things go a against them. This match give them a chance to show they are aware this is a team sport.

KEY MAN: Fernando Torres - A player of his class should relish and take advantage of Blackpool's (sometimes) lapse defense.

Lee Chung-young may start before he leaves for Qatar to play in the Asia Cup and Mark Davies returns after his suspension. Owen Coyle's team are flirting with European qualification and a home win would get them vital points. If they win they will return to their season high of fifth.

Graham Dorrans and Paul Scharner are fit following their weeks rest and Peter Odemwingie is free to return to the starting line-up. Roberto Di Matteo can include Chris Brunt in his plans after his groin worries. This should be an interesting match between two sides who play half decent football.

Kevin Davies - Needs to increase his 1 goal per 3 games ratio.


Everton continue to stutter in the league although everyone has faith that David Moyes can get the Toffees out of it. This will be Tim Cahill's penultimate game before leaving for the Asia Cup. The club are in desperate need of others to take over the scoring responsibility. The Austrailian has scored nine of their 20 PL goals. Jermaine Beckford, Louis Saha and Yakubu have scored three between them; two, none and one respectively.

Alec McLeish's side only sit two spots above the relegation zone and will look to take advantage of Everton's indifferent home form. Alexander Hleb has returned to training but it's likely he'll start on the bench if at all. The defense will welcome back Liam Ridgewell now that he has recovered from illness.

KEY MAN: Leighton Baines - Has been looking very lively of late, another good performance would be noticed.

The last thing either team needs is a goalless draw but it's hard to envision anything else when they have both scored 16 goals, although Fulham have played one less game at 17. Mousa Dembele will have a late fitness test after his five week absence with an ankle injury. Mark Hughes must be counting down the two months until Bobby Zamora is expected to return.

I read an article the other day about Stuart Pearce taking over at West Ham and I kinda thought it wasn't a bad idea. Those fans need to see a man who looks like he cares. Avram Grant does not. Either way, West Ham are just getting deeper into a mess and the Two Davids either back their manager with money or replace him. And soon, before the natives get restless.

KEY MAN: Victor Obinna - Far too goal shy for a player whose team are struggling to stay afloat at the bottom of the table.

I get the feeling this will be a very interesting match, I have watched Sunderland a few times recently and their front three have the best movement in the league. Unfortunately Danny Welbeck cannot play against his parent club but Asamoah Gyan and Darren Bent still have enough about them to take the game to United.

Captain Nemanja Vidic will return while Michael Carrick, Nani and Anderson are available for selection. United always come into their own come the turn of the year and Sir Alex will expect his men to play for a comprehensive win. The manager has an exceptional record against his former students.

KEY MAN: Wayne Rooney - This should be his type of match; fast and physical.

It was not that long ago; Newcastle United were in Manchester City's position, mixing it with the big boys. How times change. Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson return from their suspensions which will leave Stephen Taylor fighting to keep his spot. Peter Lovenkrands will be hoping for a chance alongside Andy Carroll as Shola Ameobi is out with a niggly hamstring.

Mario Baletolli has allegedly been dropped after his lethargic performance when City were beaten by Everton. Nigel de Jong is back. Stuttering City HAVE to qualify for the Champions League this season and after losing points on Monday, three points are necessary.

Joey Barton - Which Barton will turn up against City's superstars?

They both sit in the relegation zone with West Ham and to be honest it's hard to see where their next run will come from. Mick Mac has a growing injury list and will be desperate for reinforcements come January. With attacking players like Matthew Jarvis and Kevin Doyle missing, he has his work cut out for him as they've lost four of the last six.

Tom Cleverley, Emmerton Boyce and captain Gary Caldwell head the missing list for Roberto Matinez' men. The manager has made it clear he will be looking for an attacking player come the January transfer window though lets see what he has to play with in terms of money. They sit equal bottom with West Ham on a -15 goal deficit after conceding 28 in 17 games.

KEY MAN: Sylvan Ebanks-Blake - Needs to step up to the mantle more often, more so with the energetic Jarvis out.

So Natasha Says
Thank you to everyone who has read, commented and helped promote the blog. I appreciate you all, wherever you live.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

And please keep reading,
Natasha x

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