Friday, 25 November 2011

Premier League Preview - Match Day 13

After Champions League duty in midweek, it's back to the Premier League for England's top sides.  The Gunners have already qualified for the knock out stages and will be feeling confident as they welcome Martin Jol's stagnating Fulham side.  Bolton will be hoping for a win against Everton, as they look to escape the bottom three and high-flying Newcastle face rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

With Arsenal full of confidence after their midweek win, they represent a stern test for heir London neighbours Fulham; who have lost three of their last six games and sit just two points above the drop zone.  Fulham will need to keep Robin van Persie quiet after another two goals in against Borrusia Dortmund on Wednesday, taking his tally to 12 in the last eight games.  While Abou Diaby may start from the bench after his return to fitness.  Arsenal fans will be brightened by the news that Jack Wilshere should return in January.

Fulham have taken five of their 11 points away from home, while scoring three and conceding six.  They haven't beaten Arsenal in the last 25 games in all competitions, only managing a draw on three occasions.  Martin Jol will hope his strikers find the back of the net if they are to get anything from this game at The emirates.

Key Man: Mousa Dembele - Will relish the challenge against Alex Song in midfield.

Two teams who need to get point on the board as soon as possible if they're not to have a long hard season.  Both sides have only taken six from their last 18 points.  The Wanderers sit in the relegation spaces, two points from safety and its clear they miss Stuart Holden who is still recovering from his knee operations.  They are also without youngster Joe Riley, while Dedryck Boyata is making good progress in his return to fitness and could start.

David Moyes may be the more confident of the two managers, with Bolton having only won one of their last six at home.  Sylvin Distin, Phil Neville and Jack Rodwell will all face late fitness tests before Moyes decides on his team.  After a disappointing start to the season, the Toffees now sit in 12th.  Along with their new signings having settled in, Marouane Fellani has also signed a new contract.

Key Man: Leighton Baines - Seems to start all of Everton's attacking play.

After a disastrous trio of results and increased media pressure, Andre Villas-Boas needs to take three points against Mick Mac's men.  The Blues have conceded nine goals in their last three games and their defense is looking shakier with each outing.  They have some relief with the news that Ashley Cole is available after missing Wednesday's Champions League 2-1 loss against Bayer LeverkausenThe most interesting selection will again be up front as AVB has to pic from a quartet of Didier Drogba, Daniel Sturridge, Fernando Torres and Nicholas Anelka.

Wolves will have to make some forced changes to their squad with Jamie O'Hara and Stephen Hunt suspended after collecting five yellow cards and Richard Stearman ruled out with a broken wrist.  Mick Mac's men sit precariously in 17th on 11 points from just 12 games.  Matt Jarvis and Adlene Guedioura are likely to replace O'Hara and Hunt in midfield, while ronals Zubur culd make a return after being out for nine months.

Key Man: John Terry - Captain needs to lead from the back.

The Super Sunday match this weekend sees sixth placed Liverpool welcome leaders City to Anfield.  King Kenny's men will be well rested for this game and full of confidence following their win at Stamford Bridge last week.  It will be interesting to see if they stick with the experience of Craig Bellamy as they look to move into the Champions League places.  Stevie G is still out while Jamie Carragher is hoping for a recall after being on the bench last week.

With the next stage of the Champions League hanging in the balance, Roberto Mancini may decide to shuffle the deck in order to continue their unbeaten Premier League run.  Micah Richards should start after being rested on Tuesday, while Samir Nasri may return after starting on the bench.  Sergio Aguero should lead the line with Mario Balotelli after they recovered from a slight knock and a fever, respectively.

Key Man: Vincent Kompany - Can he tame the animal that is Luis Suarez?

Two old foes meet again with Manchester United trailing their noisy neighbours and Newcastle sitting in the last Champions League spot.  There was bad news for the Champions League holders as it was revealed that Anderson will be out until February, to join Tom Cleverly and Michael Owen on the treatment table.  Sir Alex will be hoping history is on the Red Devils side as they have won 13 of the last 17 of these fixtures.

Alan Pardew's men have been the surprise package this season after taking 25 from 35 points available.  Leon Best and Cheik Tiote are both doubts but Gabriel Obertan will return to the squad to face his old club.  Danny Guthrie missed training for most of the week but should be fit to start on the bench.  the Geordies haven't been the highest scoring team but they have only conceded 11 goals, one less than Manchester United.

Key Man: Steven Taylor - Another chance to show his skills against one of the big four.

The tale of two newbies who will both be happy with the shows so far in the top tier.  Norwich sit two places and two points behind QPR, in 11th; although the Canaries have a better goal difference than heir rivals but both teams have conceded eight goals in their last three games.  Yet Norwich showed in their game at the Emirates that they are looking to play good football and go out and attack the opposition.

QPR are certainly a team that embodies their manager; dogged, a little angry and not too bothered about making friends.  But their summer buys have helped them to a respectable ninth place in the table.  Armond Traore no longer looks like the nervous player he was at Arsenal and Luke Young looks to have recovered the form that made him a favourite at Charlton.  they have a few injures though with DJ Campbell out and Heidar Helguson and Traore struggling.

Key Man: Kyle Naughton - Could be the man to put Joey Barton in his pocket?

If Tony Pulis thought he had problems after City's loss to QPR, than he'll be grateful to have a glass of wine with Steve Kean.  Like many before them, the Potters are struggling to deal with the added pressure of the Europa League as they sit 14th in the table.  Both sides are shipping goals, City have conceded 22, to Blackburn's 27.  Stoke hope to end a run of four straight defeats.

Second from bottom Blackburn's fans aren't celebrating too much at the moment.  Although manager, Steve Kean will hope his side gets three points to help his celebrate his new contract.  Rovers are still without Chris Samba and Ryan Nelsen and David Dunn is suspended after last weeks red card.

Key Man: Jon Walters - Another chance to show Crouchy how it's done.

The only reason Sunderland are in 15th, is that there are five teams playing worse than them.  They seem to have the components for a god team but just can't seem to put a run together.  Keiren Westwood will continue in goal as Simon Mignolet is still out with a fractured nose and eye socket.  Steve Bruce will be happy to have Sebastian Larsson back after his one game ban while Connor Wickham and Craig Gordon are both out with knee problems.

The Premier League's bottom club will feel that lady luck is against them after the gal that shouldn't have been, stood last week.  Antolin Alcaraz serves the second of his three game ban for the spitting incident against Wolves.  The Laics sit five points from safety and this could be a defining match if they are to stave of their relegation woes.

Key Man: Hugo Rodellega - Wigan are in dire need of a hero.

These two sides last met, 28 years ago where the game ended in a 2-1 draw for the home side.  like the other two promoted sides, City have impressed a lot of neutrals with Joe Allen and Scott Sinclair in particular, being praised for their contributions.  Swansea have won three of their six home games but they have struggled away from home.

A subdued performance in their last game, meant Villa lost 2-0 to Spurs.   Many feel Alex McLeish is setting his team out too defensively so a couple of goals at The Liberty Stadium would go some way to getting the fans back onside.  The Villians sit in eighth and have won just two of their last six games, one of which was against strugglers Wigan.

Key Man: Gabriel Agbonlahor - Needs to take it up a gear.

Their strike-rate is the biggest problem for Roy Hodgson's men, having scored just 11 goals in 12 games while Spurs have scored 23 and they have a game in hand.  They sit tenth after winning three of their last six league matches.  Peter Odemwingie is still out, although Paul Scharner should return.

'Arry returned to the touchline on Monday night to see his side comfortably beat Villa.  They sit third on 25 points with a game in hand due to their postponed game against Everton.  Jermaine Defoe has been complaining this weak about his lack of starts and how it affects his England chances.  But I would expect Redknapp to go with his winning frontline of Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael Van der Vaart.

Key Man: Luka Modric - Perfect game for the Croatian to pull the strings.

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