Premier League Preview, Dec. 5-6
A clash of the wealthy highlights this weekend’s schedule as Chelsea pay a visit to the blue side of Manchester to face City.
And no, there’s no truth to the rumor that Mark Hughes will be on hand in South Africa for the World Cup festivities. I can understand where it came from, though. With seven straight ties in league play, no one draws quite like Man City.
Table watch: Chelsea is still in first place on 36 points while City is in seventh spot on 22 points.
Streaking: City is unbeaten in its last 10 matches and has yet to taste defeat at Eastlands this season. Chelsea is also unbeaten on the road, having notched five wins and two draws in road fixtures.
Streaking, the other way: Of course, City hasn’t beaten Chelsea since Oct. 2004.
In and out: Manchester City stayed afloat in the Carling Cup with a 3-0 win over Arsenal while Chelsea fell out on penalties against Blackburn in mid-week.
Of course, there are nine other games this weekend. Here they are:
And here are a few more capsules:
Portsmouth vs. Burnley
Pompey is still seeking an escape from the basement as the Clarets come calling on Saturday.
Table watch:Portsmouth is in last place on seven points while Burnley is in 12th spot on 17 points.
They said it: Kanu is rampingup the pressure on Pompey, as he tells The Guardian that, “We have to believe and be positive. We’ve got to lift our heads up and get the result we need. We’ve got to come away with the points against Burnley because that is the game that is going to determine what’s going to happen in the league.
“It is a winnable game. We can play good football, but sometimes you have to play less football to win games. That is the difficult thing, but let’s hope our luck changes. Some of the goals we have let in over the last two games have been far too easy. But we have to take the positives we can from those matches and move on.”
On the mend?: New Pompey boss Avram Grant will hope to have first-choice keeper David James back from a calf injury.
Watching the goals roll in: To get its first road win of the season, Burnley will have to improve on defense. The Clarets have allowed 25 goals in seven matches away from Turf Moor.
Arsenal vs. Stoke City
Fresh off a disappointing loss in Carling Cup play on Wednesday, the Gunners will resume their chase for the Premier League title Saturday when the Potters visit the Emirates.
Table watch: Arsenal is in fourth place on 25 points while Stoke City is in ninth place on 20 points.
Righting the ship: The Gunners hope that this home match will help fix their scoring drought, as they haven’t scored a goal or won in three matches.
Injury report: Arsenal will be without Robin van Persie, Gael Clichy, Abou Diaby and Kieran Gibbs out through injury and Alex Song missing through suspension, the Gunners wil again be creative on the team sheet. Ryan Shawcross and Dean Whitehead won’t be in the lineup for the Potters, either.
Aston Villa vs. Hull City
Hull City will look to continue its recent good form when it heads over to Villa Park on Saturday.
Table watch: Aston Villa is in sixth place on 23 points while Hull City is in 15th place on 16 points.
Match facts: From our friends at Eurosport - Hull have scored 65 percent of their goals in the first half, the highest proportion in the Premier League. … The Tigers have won only one and lost five of their seven games against teams in the top half of the table. … Villa have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last nine Premier League matches. … The last three meetings between these two sides in all competitions have finished 1-0 to Villa.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Liverpool
Two clubs that could use three points meet at Ewood Park this weekend.
Table watch: Blackburn is in 13th place on 17 points while Liverpool is in fifth place on 23 points.
The return of Fernando?: The Daily Post in North Wales reports that injured striker Fernando Torres might return to action. To say he’s been sorely missed would be a massive understatement.
Welcome back, Big Sam: Rovers’ boss Sam Allardyce tells Sky Sports that he’ll be back on the sidelines after missing time after heart surgery.
West Ham United vs. Manchester United
The Red Devils will look to keep the pressure on front-running Chelsea when they travel to Upton Park.
Table watch: West Ham is in 17th place on 14 points while United is in second place on 31 points.
Gaining ground?: Trailing Chelsea by five points, this might be a weekend for the Red Devils to make up some ground in their quest for their fourth consecutive title.
Last time: Ryan Giggs had the lone goal in a United victory.
Wigan Athletic vs. Birmingham City
The Latics will try to rise in the ranks at the expense of visiting Birmingham at the DW Stadium on Saturday.
Table watch: Wigan Athletic is in 14th place on 17 points, just one point back of 11th-place Birmingham.
Keeping it going: Birmingham is unbeaten in its last five matches while Wiganrecently erased the memory of that 9-1 loss at Spurs with a win over Sunderland.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Bolton Wanderers
Wolves welcome Bolton in what, for now, has to tabbed a relegation six-pointer.
Table watch: Wolves are in 19th place on 10 points while Bolton is in 18th place on 12 points.
They said it: “I know what we have to do, beat Bolton. You’d be amazed by how a victory against Bolton would lift this place, the fans, the club, everybody.” – Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, to Eurosport.
Fulham vs. Sunderland
Fulhamhopes to cement its place in the top 10 with a result against visiting Sunderland on Sunday.
Table watch: Fulham is in 10thplace on 19 points while the Black Cats are in eighth place on 20 points.
Home and away: Fulham has 13 of its 19 points at home this season while Sunderland has four points in seven matches on its travels.
Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The final match of the weekend pits the Toffees against Spurs at Goodison Park.
Table watch: Everton is in 16th place on 15 points while Spurs is in third place on 26 points.
They said it, part one:“We have done fantastically well so far this season, this was a disappointment and hopefully it’s a one-off. We now have to focus on the league and the FA Cup, starting with Everton on Sunday.” – Spurs’ striker Peter Crouch, to the team’s Web site.
They said it, part two:“What I do know is the players look as though they are regaining a bit of confidence and are playing much better. There is a great spirit at Everton and that won’t ever go away. The players are showing that to everyone.” – Everton manager David Moyes, to the Times.