Arsenal and Liverpool Look to Catch Up with Tottenham and Manchester City
Although English teams enjoyed a mixed week on the continent, they have to put their troubles troubles behind them this weekend and get back to the business of winning/surviving in the Premier League. The latest football betting odds still favour Manchester City but with title contenders clashing to relegation candidates scrapping for every single point available, the league still has a long way to go.
Here’s a look at all the Premier League games this weekend:
Arsenal v Everton
Arsene Wenger’s team welcome David Moyes’ side to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday with both clubs in contrasting form. The North London outfit have won 7 of their last 8 league games, with a draw against Fulham their solitary blip. Their solid run has seen them charge up to 5th in the table after a horror start to their season. Meanwhile the Toffees lie in 10th position having won 2 and lost 2 of their last 4 games as their summer of restricted transfer activity sees them enjoy yet another season without significant progress.
Andre Santos and Lukasz Fabianski were causalities in Arsenal’s win over Olympiacos in the Champions League midweek with both ruled out for this game as the home team’s injury list grows. Tomas Rosicky could make his return to the first-team fold but it will come too soon for Abou Diaby who looks to be at least another week away from match fitness. Sylvain Distin, Royston Drenthe and Phil Neville could play some part in London as the Scousers look to disrupt the Gunners 8 game unbeaten run in the league.
Bolton v Aston Villa
Alex McLeish brings the Claret and Blue to the Reebok Stadium as they face-off against the seriously struggling Wanderers. Owen Coyle’s side have lost their last 3 games which typifies their miserable form so far this season which sees them languishing in 19th place, two points adrift of safety. A slightly alarming slump for the Villans has seen them win just 1 of their last 7, with 4 losses during that period. Marcos Alonso and Ricardo Gardner could feature for the home team as they remain without the influential trio Lee Chung-Yong, Stuart Holden and Sean Davis for several months yet but otherwise have no new injury concerns.
Shay Given and Jermaine Jenas will be missing for the visiting side as they suffered afflictions in their loss against Manchester United last weekend. Alex McLeish has nobody returning from a spell on the sidelines as he must reshuffle his pack in order to mastermind his team’s journey on the way to a badly-needed three points.
Liverpool v QPR
This season’s two Jekyll and Hyde teams meet at Anfield as Kenny Dalglish’s men welcome the Hoops to Merseyside. Liverpool have held both Manchester clubs as well as beaten Chelsea so far in the league but have themselves been frustrated by Swansea and Norwich. Their loss to Fulham sums up their inconsistency as they currently lie in 7th place in their quest for Champions League qualification.
Meanwhile Neil Warnock’s side have seen off Chelsea, Everton and Stoke on their way to 12th in the table. The R’s would be even higher if they maintained if they hadn’t suffered surprisingly big losses to Bolton and Fulham in the league this season. Jay Spearing is the 18-time league winners only new missing player as he sits out this game with a suspension. Kieron Dyer and Matthew Connolly could make their comebacks for the London club as they will battle for all three points against their illustrious hosts.
Manchester United v Wolverhampton
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men host Mick McCarthy’s Wolves as the home team will be looking for a response after their massive disappointment in the Champions League midweek. The Red Devils have won 4 of their last 5 league games as they keep pace with City at the top of the table, lying in 2nd place. The Molineux outfit will be fearing a backlash against United and they will not be expecting to improve on their position of 16th in the table, 4 points clear of the relegation zone.
Dimitar Berbatov and the da Silva twins could return to the first team fold against Wolves as the champions struggle with injuries, Nemanja Vidic the latest man to become sidelined. The away team have no new injury worries but will not be able to call upon the services of Jody Craddock or Kevin Foley, both of whom are out until at least the end of the month.
Norwich v Newcastle
Paul Lambert’s side host the high-flying Magpies as a fascinating encounter awaits us at Carrow Road. The Canaries have impressed so far this season on their way to 11th in the table with fine wins against Bolton, Sunderland and QPR to their names. However their opponents for the day have definitely been the surprise team of the season as they sit in 6th place in the table, thanks to super wins over Stoke and Everton as well as holding Man United at Old Trafford.
The hosts could welcome Ritchie De Laet back into the team as they aren’t troubled by anyone else joining long-term absentees Elliot Ward or James Vaughn on the treatment table. Alan Pardew’s Toon squad is being put under strain recently with the news that Steven Taylor is out for the season and Fabricio Coloccini is also doubtful for the game as the club are light in defence.
Swansea v Fulham
Brendan Rodgers Welsh team lock horns with Martin Jol’s Cottagers at the Liberty Stadium. Both teams have had an upturn in results recently but they still are struggling to edge away from the bottom 3. The Swans have drawn with Liverpool and Aston Villa lately as well as narrowly losing to United in Wales as they occupy 15th position in the table. The opposition on the other hand have steadied the ship in recent weeks after an indifferent early season. Credible draws away to Sunderland and Arsenal preceded a huge win against Liverpool at home as they have risen 13th place.
Danny Graham could return for the hosts but Joe Allen is ruled out after picking up his 5th booking of the season last week, thus he is suspended as nobody returns for the home team. Danny Murphy is uncertain to feature after picking up a knock in the game against Liverpool while Damien Duff looks set to be fit for the game after a spell out of action.
West Brom v Wigan
It’s a clash of two strugglers at the Hawthorns as Roy Hodgson’s Baggies welcome Roberto Martinez’ Latics. The hosts season has been peppered with the odd few good results such as beat Aston Villa, Wolves and Norwich. However losing 50% of their 14 games so far has seen them hover in 14th place, five points above the drop zone. Meanwhile the visitors are rock-bottom of the league and only a late win against Sunderland has breathed some life into their otherwise flagging season.
The hosts have nobody returning or fresh injury concerns but are still without Marc-Antoine Fortune and Zoltan Gera indefinitely. The away side only sidelined player is Chris Kirkland as Antolin Alacaraz finally returns after his long suspension has expired.
Sunderland v Blackburn
Another set of strugglers do battle in the north east as the Black Cats entertain Steve Kean’s flailing Rovers. Martin O’Neill’s new team are 17th in the table after 3 losses in their last 4 spelled the end of Steve Bruce’s miserable managerial reign with Sunderland. Their opposition are in 18th place and will see this game as a fantastic opportunity to come out of the relegation zone.
A win over Swansea last week eased pressure on their Scottish manager but he will be up against it on Sunday as the Lancashire side have yet to win away in the league this season. The hosts have an incredible 8 first teamers missing for a variety of reasons with none of them making a return any time soon. Steven N’Zonzi will complete his 3-game suspension after sitting out of this game while Vince Grella and Ryan Nelsen are very close to match fitness after their respective injuries.
Stoke v Tottenham
The Potter clash with Spurs on Sunday as both team’s look to improve on their fantastic season’s so far. Tony Pulis’ charges are in 8th place presently thanks to recent wins over Blackburn and Everton as they juggle Europa League action remarkably well in their debut season in the competition. Harry Redknapp’s have soared up the Premier League standings in recent weeks and six league wins on the bounce sees them just two points behind Manchester United in third place, and the Londoners also have the luxury of a game in hand.
Mamady Sidibe is the only man sidelined for the Britannia Stadium outfit while the visitors are coping well despite 6 players injured. Roman Pavlyuchenko will bolster the Lilywhites’ options up front but Tom Huddleston, Niko Kranjcar and Michael Dawson are still injured.
Chelsea v Manchester City
Andre Villas-Boas Pensioners take on Roberto Mancini’s juggernaut Citizens as title contenders and pretenders are set to be found out on the sole Monday night fixture. The Stamford Bridge club have been erratic domestically this season having lost 3 of their last 6 league games and currently lie in 4th, 10 points adrift of their table-topping opponents.
Despite their European woes, City have been incredible in the Premier League this season, dropping just 4 points in their first 14 games, breaking many records along the way. They are 5 points clear of 2nd placed Manchester United and don’t look like relinquishing top spot any time soon. The hosts will be without David Luiz who is sitting out with suspension in their otherwise full-strength squad. The visitors sole man out is Aleksandr Kolarov as the left-back is out with a groin injury until the New Year at least.