Friday, 3 December 2010

Premier League Preview - Match Day 16

After the midweek Carling Cup and Europa League fixtures, teams are back to earning their bread and butter in the Premier League. It will interesting to see who has a cup hangover and who has benefited from a few days extra rest.

Arsenal v Fulham
This London derby sees Mark Hughes taking his boys to the Emirates after Arsenal's exploits in the Carling Cup. Lukasz Fabianski should continue in goal after Manuel Almunia's injury setback while captain Cesc Fabregas is still out with that troublesome hamstring. Hopefully Andrey Arshavin will celebrate Russia's World Cup bid with an impressive performance against a team lying 17th in the table.

Andy Johnson should return to the squad and it would be good to see him get his second match of the season following his 10 month lay-off. Fulham still have several long-term injuries although former Arsenal man Phillipe Senderos has reportedly returned to training this week. They will look to Clint Dempsey for goals as they aim to leap up the table. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has signed a new contract and will want to show Mr Wenger what he missed out on in the summer

Key Man: Danny Murphy - Fulham will need their Captain to be on top of his midfield game if they are to get anything.

Birmingham City v Tottenham Hotspur
Birmingham will be buoyed after their league cup win against their local rivals on Wednesday although all will hope there is n repeat of the crowd trouble that followed the match. Marquee signing Alexander Hleb is still out for another couple of weeks with a calf strain while Craig Gardner should return to the starting line-up in place of Lee Bowyer who will have some bruises after his treatment against Villa.

'Arry Redknapp will be pleased to have Michael Dawson on the bench with the defender having been out for three month with ligament damage. Jermaine Jenas and Rafael Van der Vaart are still out but Jermaine Defoe should start having not shown any problems since his return from injury.

Key Man: Jermaine Defoe - Spurs and 'Arry need him to hit the ground running with other attacking players out.

Blackburn Rovers v Wolverhampton Wanderers
One suspects Fat Sam has been doing some serious defensive work after the home teams capitulation against Manchester United. Although any loss will again be blamed on their 'devastating' injury list. Mama Biram Diouf will return after being ineligiable against his parent club and Blackburn also welcome Morten Gamst Pedersen back from a hamstring injury.

Mick Mac will expect his men to build on last week's win and this match could well be decided by which team takes and doesn't waste their chances. Wolves have no new injury news but need the win to drag themselves clear of the bottom three which look harder by the week.

Key Man: Matt Jarvis - Will need another consistent performance to help his team win crucial points.

Blackpool v Manchester United
A goalkeeping crisis has been averted for the Seasiders as it transpires Richard Kingson's knee is not as bad as first though. There is sad news for Chris Bashan after breaking his leg in a reverse match - I'm sure you join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.

You can expect a completely different team from the one that Sir Alex sent out at West Ham in midweek, I doubt anyone other than Ryan Giggs will keep their place unless they have injury worries. Veteran Paul Scholes is still doubtful with a groin strain.

Key Man: Charlie Adam - It will be interesting to see how Manchester United cope with Blackpool's exuberant youngster.


Chelsea v Everton
Two teams with varying levels of turmoil within their club, Chelsea off the pitch and Everton on it. Chelsea have nine wins to Everton's three and the Gooner in me hopes the Toffees can pull off a shock though I won't be betting on that. Yet sometimes it takes that unexpected result to kick-start a clubs season. John Terry will be back for the home team which is much appreciated after Alex's mishaps but Frank Lampard is still not ready after three months out with groin and hernia issues. But hey, we've all seen Christine Bleakley so that's completely understandable.

Mikel Arteta starts his three match ban after last weeks sending-off while Captain Phil Neville and Marouane Fellaini will return to start at Stamford Bridge. Centre-back Phil Jagielka took a knock last week and is a serious doubt. Davd Moyes will need a good tem performance from his men to beat the champions.

Key Man: Tim Cahill - Well, his superman super-head. You know what I mean!

Liverpool v Aston Villa (Monday)
The loss of Jamie Carragher is a big loss to Roy Hodgson, even when the Bootle man isn't performing his presence alone on the the pitch is a massive plus for Liverpool. Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger are still out with no return date set for latter although the Englishman should be back in the next 7-10 days. Sotirios Kyrgiakos will partner Martin Skrtel in defence after the teams draw at Steuna Bucherest.

Villa can't seen to get it right although at times they look extremely good. They are less reserved than they previously were and there is a good basis for a stable defence. Yet, this will all be for nothing if they don't manage to take their chances when they get them. Ashley Young serves a ban after his fifth booking of the season while homegrown Barry Bannan looks likely to join an ever growing injury list. Ex Manchester City man Stephen Ireland may be recalled to the starting eleven.

Key Man: Joe Cole - Time for the winger to give the fans something to smile about.

Manchester City v Bolton Wanderers
Stuttering City need a top attacking performance this weekend and I don't expect them to find that easy against Owen Coyle's increasingly impressive Bolton. Three pints separate the teams and the noisy neighbours have a full squad to choose from so there is no reason they shouldn't go all out attack.

Stuart Holden is likely to need another week so Mark Davies should continue in the side and with another good display would show Bolton now have their best squad in years. In their last six games they have won three and drawn two while scoring 15 goals. Congratulations to Owen Coyle and Johan Elmander who won the Barclays manager and player of the month trophies.

Key Man: Johan Elmander - Can he continue his good form and team work against the big-spenders?

Sunderland Athletic v West Ham United
Two teams who have recently found their stride with the Hammers win against Manchester United a particular high point. After that loss against their newly promoted local rivals they have improved and hitman Darren Bent has returned from injury. John Mensah should start as Titus Bramble and Michael Turner are still out with knee injuries.

Even though he scored a brace in midweek, Jonathon Spector may lose his place to a fit-again Scottie Parker. Junior Stanislas and Mark Noble are still out. They need to use their Carling Cup performance against Manchester United as a springboard to get some wins in the league forget telling their fans to 'Save our Season' in November. I would imagine that makes the players and coaching staff feel severely undermined.

Key Man: Carlton Cole - He needs another good performance to restore some faith.

West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle
Both these teams were promoted from the Championship. Roberto Di Matteo made it clear the league is his priority so now he needs to prove he made the right decision. He will check on the fitness of Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie amongst other on the morning of the match. The home team sit in 12th even though they have lost four in six.

Joey Barton has completed his ban for punching Bolton's Morten Gamst Pedersen so will be expected back in the starting line-up. I think it's ridiculous that Chris Houghton is supposedly in trouble, they sit ninth and have only lost 2 of their last 6 games.

Key Man: Andy Carroll - Newcastle will need him to be wearing his scoring boots.

Wigan v Stoke City
Wigan's depleted forward line could give Stoke a good opportunity to get another three points on the board against a home team who sit 18th. There is hope Mario Boselli could be fit and they could do with him as Victor Moses is out and Hugo Rodellega still suspended.

Loanee Jermaine Pennant will have a late fitness test and top scorer Kenwyne Jones should relish his pace and crosses. Tony Pulis knows his best team and will see this as a winnable game.

Key Man:
Ricardo Fuller - This is the sort of game when the Jamaican sparkles.

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