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Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-By-Game Guide

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistDecember 22, 2014

Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-By-Game Guide

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    As the Premier League halfway mark begins to come into view, it’s the time of the season when the sheen of any fortunate beginnings start to wear away and campaigns begin to take shape.

    The weekend’s action gets under way with a chilly visit to the Stadium of Light before capping off with a Super Sunday fixture between Chelsea and Manchester City.

    With 35 goals scored in Week 12 of our Premier League season, this edition promises to yield just another of your average, run-of-the-mill weekends in the English top-flight, but then that’s saying quite a bit.

Sunderland vs. West Brom

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    Where: Stadium of Light

    When: Saturday 24th November, 07:45 a.m. ET

    After coming away from Craven Cottage with all three points in hand last Sunday, Sunderland put an end to a winless streak going back as far as six matches, representing a turning point in their season.

    Five places away from the bottom of the table, however, Martin O’Neill’s side go up against an in-form West Brom team coming off the back of a win over Chelsea.

    Steve Clarke has moulded his Baggies outfit into an extremely dangerous unit, and a collection with squad depth at that.

    Sunderland have won just a single point from this fixture in the last two meetings at the Stadium of Light, and will need to get over their win in west London quickly if they are to capitalise on their momentum.

    However, with both sides building their seasons thus far on stern defences, this encounter doesn’t promise to be a goal-fest and will be more a case of who blinks first.

    Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 West Brom

Everton vs. Norwich City

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    Where: Goodison Park

    When: Saturday 24th November, 10:00 a.m. ET

    With just one win in their last six games, it would appear Everton’s incredible start to the season is coming off the rails somewhat and momentum beginning to slow.

    This week, the hosts’ search to get their season back on track would appear stunted by the absence of Marouane Fellaini, who is serving a one-match ban for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend.

    For Chris Hughton, the only major concern this weekend is Michael Turner, who has been rated as “touch and go” by his manager.

    Prediction: Everton 3-1 Norwich City

Manchester United vs. QPR

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    Where: Old Trafford

    When: Saturday 24th November, 10:00 a.m. ET

    Sir Alex Ferguson will have been sincerely displeased to have seen his side come away from the top of the table following their loss at Norwich City, and couldn’t ask for much better opposition to bounce back against.

    Friday saw Mark Hughes sacked by the club (via BBC Sport), and although Harry Redknapp is alleged to be nearing a deal, logic would dictate QPR will be manager-less for their trip to Old Trafford.

    Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora are possible long-term absences for the Hoops, leaving Djibril Cissé as the most probable candidate to lead QPR’s attacking line.

    The home side will welcome back a raft of stars who were rested in the midweek Champions League loss to Galatasaray, and will be all the fresher for it.

    Prediction: Manchester United 4-1 QPR

Stoke City vs. Fulham

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    Where: Britannia Stadium

    When: Saturday 24th November, 10:00 a.m. ET

    Is there a fixture in the Premier League at the moment which showcases two sides with more opposite styles of playing than the matchup at the Britannia Stadium this weekend?

    Fulham have seen success this season through encouraging attacking displays, currently holding the second best scoring record in the English top flight.

    On the other end of the scale, the Potters have relied upon a staunch defensive record to claim their current position of 14th, conceding an average of just 0.20 goals per home game this season.

    It’s likely that the meeting between the Cottagers and the Potters will be very hit-or-miss, providing either an incredible display or the kind of bore one can sometimes see at the Britannia.

    Brede Hangeland is out after picking up a straight red for Fulham last weekend, while Bryan Ruiz and Alex Kacaniklic will also be sorely missed in attack.

    Prediction: Stoke City 1-1 Fulham

Wigan Athletic vs. Reading

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    Where: DW Stadium

    When: Saturday 24th November, 10:00 a.m. ET

    Two sides currently plugging away in the relegation battle, Wigan and Reading would appear set to put on a bit of a boring affair, scoring just eight goals between the last four games that each have played.

    Staged at 16th and 17th respectively, Wigan and Reading are two points apart and are both out of the bottom three simultaneously for just the fifth week this season.

    These sides have met just four times in the Premier League, with the two games at the DW Stadium producing just one goal between them.

    However, four years since their last league encounter, the Latics have grown substantially in the public standing and can hopefully produce more of a show this time around.

    Projection: Wigan Athletic 2-1 Reading

Aston Villa vs. Arsenal

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    Where: Villa Park

    When: Saturday 24th November, 10:00 a.m. ET

    An alliterative encounter of alphabetical proportions, Aston Villa continue their unfortunate streak of fixtures this weekend when they play hosts to Arsenal.

    Paul Lambert’s side have faced both Manchester City and Manchester United in the last two weeks and are looking to bounce back from a demoralising 5-0 victory against the Citizens.

    Arsenal have also had a big week after putting five past Tottenham before assuring their progress to the next stage of the Champions League with a midweek win over Montpellier.

    Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

Swansea City vs. Liverpool

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    Where: Liberty Stadium

    When: Sunday 25th November, 08:30 a.m. ET

    A mid-table six-pointer if ever there was one, Liverpool and Swansea—11th and 10th, respectively—are both hoping to build on some impressive form of late at the Liberty Stadium this weekend.

    The hosts are unbeaten in their last four—across all competitions—while the scoring form of Luis Suarez has pushed the Reds into a seven-match unbeaten streak.

    After impressing against Chelsea and Wigan Athletic, Jose Enrique may once again be fielded on the left of a front three while Glen Johnson fills in at left-back.

    However, that may rest on the condition of Andre Wisdom, who remains a doubt heading to Wales.

    For Brendan Rodgers, it presents a league return to South Wales and it could be summer signing Michu that’s once again pushed into a striking role to bring misery on Rodgers’ new side.

    Prediction: Swansea City 2-2 Liverpool

Southampton vs. Newcastle United

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    Where: St. Mary’s Stadium

    When: Sunday 25th November, 10:00 a.m. ET

    With Newcastle United struggling with injuries of late, it would seem duties of a European campaign are taking their toll on the Magpies, providing Southampton with the ideal opportunity to take advantage.

    Alan Pardew has seen players such as Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Demba Cissé and Jonas Gutierrez sidelined through injury or otherwise.

    Nigel Adkins welcomed Gaston Ramirez back to the fray last weekend, but the Uruguayan is still struggling to settle into English football and is yet to reach the kind of potential displayed in his days with Bologna.

    The last time Southampton beat Newcastle was more than 12 years ago, meaning the hosts will have to go about beating the odds if they’re to emerge victorious this weekend.

    Prediction: Southampton 2-1 Newcastle United

Chelsea vs. Manchester City

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    Where: Stamford Bridge

    When: Sunday 25th November, 11:00 a.m. ET

    Sunday’s game to watch, the meeting between Chelsea and Manchester City is one that will have a massive bearing on who goes on to claim the Premier League title.

    Last weekend’s 5-0 victory over Aston Villa saw the Citizens assume top spot and a victory at Stamford Bridge would put the visitors in good standing.

    As things stand, Roberto Mancini’s side are a point ahead of second-placed Manchester United, meaning any points sacrificed could relinquish top spot.

    Chelsea have lost their last two games on the bounce and are hoping to return from a 3-0 thrashing against Juventus in what will be Rafael Benitez’s first game in charge of the Blues as interim manager.

    Prediction: Chelsea 3-3 Manchester City

Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United

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    Where: White Hart Lane

    When: Sunday 25th November, 11:00 a.m. ET

    One of the last games this week, Andre Villas-Boas’s record of just three wins in his side’s last 10 games across all competitions will be put to trial by West Ham, who find themselves in the fairly lofty heights of 7th place.

    Draws against Manchester City and Stoke City of late have pushed the Hammers up the table, along with a win over Newcastle two weeks ago.

    Sam Allardyce’s men have continued last season’s trend of being defensively impressive when playing away from home, and will need to maintain that stance at White Hart Lane, lest they fall behind Spurs, currently just one spot behind them.

    Emmanuel Adebayor begins a three-match ban following his red card at the Emirates Stadium last week, leaving Jermain Defoe to lead the hosts’ attacking line, while Assou-Ekotto and Moussa Dembélé are likely to remain sidelined.

    Prediction: Tottenham 0-1 West Hame United

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