Friday, 18 March 2011

Premier League Preview - Match Day 30

I hope you haven't missed the previews too much but they are back. Yah, I hear you all scream! So the league is Arsenal's only chance of a trophy this year, Liverpool and Manchester City are out of the Europa league and Chelsea are still waiting for their prize asset to start paying back his £50million fee.

Gerard Houllier has a defensive crisis on his hands as well as more drama within the ranks. David Dunne and James Collins have been fined over a mysterious incident that occurred on the clubs training camp, apparently coaching staff were involved but the Frenchman is staying tight lipped about the event. This won't help matters for a team that sit 13th and face a lively Wolves side. With rumours constantly circling that star man Ashley Young also wants to leave in the summer, this could be a very testing time for the Villa fans.

Wolves haven't won in their last 17 games against their superior Midlands rivals but Mick Mac will hope that the tide will turn as his men fight relegation. Michael Kightly could make his first appearance in the league since 2009 after gaining minutes in a reserve game, the winger has been struggling with knee problems and he will be looking to make an instant impact. Both teams have gained eight points in their last six matches but a draw won't be good enough for either side.

KEY MAN: Kyle Walker - The loan defender from Tottenham could reek havoc if the Wolves defence let him.

Defender Phil Jones will start while Gael Givet starts his two game suspension, Jones has been out since the new manager took over and will hopefully shore up their disappointing defensive displays. Rovers have taken only one point from their last 15 and Phil Kean is surely praying for David Dunn and Vince Grella to pass their late fitness tests.

Ian Holloway welcomes back his much loved captain Charlie Adam after his suspension as the Seasiders look to get away from the drop zone. Richard Kingson should return in goal as they look to rediscover their early season form. They will likely be their normal attacking self and will feel they can take all three points at Ewood Park.

KEY MAN: Charlie Adam - Boy, have they missed him!

Two managers with expensive non-scoring strikers will feel this is a key match if they are to secure a spot in the Champions League next season. The home team seem to be hitting some form at the right time with four wins in their last six. Alex and Yossi Benayoun won't be fit until after the international break although they have both returned to training. Fernando Torres should replace Nicholas Anelka as the Spaniard looks to break his duck.

Following Mario Balotelli's sending off in Europe, Roberto Mancini will have to decide whether to risk the temperamental star against Chelsea who will no doubt wind him up. Although part of me would love to see the excitable teenager cope against man mountain Branislav Ivanovic. More predictably, Edin Dzeko will start up front and while Adam Johnson has returned to fitness, he will start on the bench as always.

KEY MAN: Fernando Torres - Needs to show that form is temporary but class is permanent.


David Moyes and the Toffee faithful will be happy that Phil Jagielka has just signed a new four year contract and with no losses in their last six home games things are looking up for the blue half of Liverpool. Marouane Fellaini is out for the season but captain Phil Neville and Tim Cahill could return to the side. Mikel Arteta's hamstring is still keeping him on the sidelines.

As Bobby Zamora continues to regain match fitness he will take his place on the bench but Mark Hughes has received disappointing news that Phillipe Senderos suffered a setback in his recovery. Hughes needs to decide who will partner Danny Murphy in the middle of the park with Dickson Etuhu still missing. Fulham have taken nine points from their last 18 and this match has all the makings of a draw.

KEY MAN: Jermaine Beckford - Finally seems to be finding his feet and form in the Premier League.


With Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, John O'Shea, Darren Fletcher and Rafael all missing Bolton could pick a worse time to visit Old Trafford. The Red Devils will also be without SirAlex as he starts his five game touchline ban. Rumours that police will look out for a laundry basket are currently unfounded. Thankfully their forward line looks a lot healthier with Javier Hernandez once again showing he is a potent attacking force. One of him, Wayne Roney and top scorer Dimitar Berbatov will start on the bench if the home team go for a 4-4-2 formation.

Daniel Sturridge can return to the team after being cup-tied for the FA Cup game against Birmingham City. With Wanderers in the semi's they should all be playing for their places and this could be an interesting game for the Lancashire side. Jlloyd Samuel and Joey O'Brien have played for the reserves but both are lacking real match fitness. Mark Davies was injured at St. Andrews so will not be involved, Chung-Yong Lee may replace him after his winning goal last week.

KEY MAN: Daniel Sturridge - Will never get a better opportunity to score at the Theatre of Dreams.

Stoke have netted ten of their last 12 points at home but they will be without John Carew for Newcastle's visit, the forward aggravated a back problem against West Ham. Even though they are in the Semi-finals of the FA Cup, the Premier League is Tony Pulis' priority. They may sit 12th, but they are only three points above the drop zone.

Joey Barton is still a worry with his thigh and Alan Pardew's problems don't stop there. Jose Enrique and Jonas Gutierrez are both doubtful with hamstring injuries. Nile Ranger is back, probably starting from the bench. Having lost two and drawn three of their last six games means the manager could do with three points, he will hope City are tired and preoccupied after last week.

KEY MAN: Kevin Nolan - The Magpies will need their top scorer with their depleted team.

Lee Cattermole, Bolo Zenden and Nedum Onuha return to bolster Steve Bruce's squad with Danny Welbeck expected to start up front with Asamoah Gyan. Gyan has said he won't do a Wayne Bridge to Luis Suarez before the match but I doubt he'll be giving him a hug. Simon Mignolet will continue in goal after his sterling performance against Arsenal. Frazier Campbell and Michael Turner are still unavailable.

Liverpool will start with both Andy Carroll and Suarez as they look to finish in the European spots after Braga knocked them out of the Europa Cup. Stevie G's groin keeps him out along with Daniel Agger and Jonjo Shelvey. They sit one place and six points below Spurs so this will be a must win match for King Kenny. Liverpool fans are meeting beforehand to destroy all beach balls in the vicinity.

KEY MAN: Andy Carroll - Is he really Liverpool's saviour?


The 'World's Greatest Player' Gareth Bale is back in the starting-11 so of course he will win the match for the home team. And there will be ten other guys on the pitch, but no one needs to know about them!*

West Ham have an awful record against Spurs but the same was once said said of the home team against Arsenal. They haven't won at White Hart Lane since 1999 and a win would take them out of the relegation zone once again. Robbie Keane can't play against his parent club but Demba Ba will be back after his rest last week as will midfielder Gary O'Neil.

KEY MAN: Scott Parker - Will show the Bale fan club what a great player really does.

Last time out; Albion beat Arsenal 3-2, the Gooner in me hopes we return the wonderful favour. Fourteen places seperate the teams and while Roy Hodgson has made the home side a more resilient team, they are not safe yet. Carlos Vela can't play against his owners but Hodgson hopes Chris Brunt will recover in time from a temperature.**

All I can say is: I really hope we win.

KEY MAN: Manuel Almunia - If he has a bad game, Jens Lehman will be between the sticks quicker that you can say: Mad German.**

Roberto Martinez has a near full squad to pick from with only Emerson Boyce injured. Connor Sammon could start after his cameo at the City of Manchester stadium and Hugo Rodellega has trained all week so should be fine. The home team are bottom but with it being so tight down there, a win would make a significant difference. Three losses in six games does not made happy reading for the manager.

Stephen Carr, Roger Johnson, Obafemi Martins are all available for the Carling Cup winners. Alex McLeish will have to wait on the fitness of midfield men David Bentley, Lee Bowyer and Keith Fahey. They have been toothless since their cup win and the manager will be looking for a vast improvement.

KEY MAN: Roger Johnson - His return will strengthen their defensive line.

* This is called sarcasm people.
** Calpol used to work for me.
*** I don't believe all German people are mad, just Jens.

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