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Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-by-Game Guide

Tim OscroftContributor INovember 7, 2013

Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-by-Game Guide

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Arsene Wenger looks down on the rest of the Premier League with his Arsenal side five points ahead of the rest at the start of this weekend's round of matches.

    The Gunners will still be on top by the end of it whatever happens, but the landscape could have changed a bit by the time they finish at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.

    As ever on the weekend after a European week, the fixtures are split over Saturday and Sunday, with Chelsea having just over two days to get over their meeting with Schalke before hosting West Brom on Saturday at 15:00.

    Here's our guide to each of the upcoming EPL fixtures.

Aston Villa v Cardiff City

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Where: Villa Park

    When: Saturday 9 November 15:00 GMT

    Villa's 3-2 win over Manchester City in September was the last time Paul Lambert's side have tasted victory.

    The Villans have failed to score in four games since, losing two and drawing two, a sequence which must be testing the patience of even their most loyal fans.

    Christian Benteke hit the bar in the 0-0 draw with West Ham last time out, and it is time for the striker along with his team-mates to step up and break the dam.

    Cardiff will be buoyant after their win over Swansea, which ended a sequence of four winless games.

    The Welsh club are still only on nine points after 10 games, and all the off-field issues involving owner Vincent Tan and manager Malky Mackay are still simmering away despite that encouraging result against their local rivals.

    Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann are doubtful with ankle and hamstring issues respectively, while Antonio Luna, Joe Bennett and Fabian Delph are also carrying knocks.

    For Cardiff, Craig Noone and Andreas Cornelius missed the Swansea game and could still be missing for Villa Park.

    Prediction: 1-1

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Where: Stamford Bridge

    When: Saturday, 9 November 15:00 GMT

    Jose Mourinho's men hit the buffers with a 2-0 defeat away to Newcastle last week, prompting their boss to claim he made "11 mistakes" in his team selection for St. James' Park, as reported by the Mirror's Jason Mellor.

    The Blues will need a win to put pressure on Arsenal 24 hours before their weekend fixture and to try to shake off the other sides just underneath them.

    Opposite the enigmatic Portuguese will be his former No. 2 Steve Clarke, who was alongside Mourinho during his first period at Stamford Bridge.

    The Baggies are in decent form, with one defeat in their last seven games, a run which includes the scalp of Man United at Old Trafford in early October.

    Prediction: 3-1

Crystal Palace v Everton

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    Steve Bardens/Getty Images

    Where: Selhurst Park

    When: Saturday, 9 November 15:00 GMT

    The beleaguered Eagles are set to be led by caretaker manager Keith Millen again as their search to replace Ian Holloway continues.

    Wales manager Chris Coleman is the name in the frame, but in the meantime they are on a seven-game losing streak after a 2-0 defeat to West Brom.

    Palace were spirited enough against the Baggies, but they need a win to arrive from somewhere, somehow to kick-start their fight against relegation before any new manager is announced.

    Everton, unbeaten in three, have been tough to get past under Roberto Martinez this season. But they missed out on a chance to go second last Sunday against Spurs.

    A win at home would have put the Toffees on their own behind Arsenal, but a dour goalless draw saw them slip down to seventh place.

    Three points against the Premier League whipping boys are a must with tougher encounters with Liverpool, Man United and Arsenal looming.

    Palace midfielder Adlene Guedioura has been sidelined for at least six weeks with a punctured lung and two broken ribs, sustained when he collided with West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill. Everton's Arouna Kone is due to be out of action for a long time, possibly the rest of the season, with a knee cartilage problem.

    Prediction: 1-3

Liverpool v Fulham

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Where: Anfield

    When: Saturday, 9 November 15:00 GMT

    Liverpool spurned the chance to go top last weekend when beaten by Arsenal.

    The Reds were made to look distinctly second-best by the in-form Gunners, but a Fulham side on the slide present a great opportunity to get back on track.

    With 16 goals between them, the "SAS" strikeforce of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have had praise heaped on them of late. Considering Suarez's late entry to the season following his ban for biting, Brendan Rodgers must be pleased with where his side are as a vital stage of the season unfolds.

    Fulham slipped down to 16th in the table with a poor display at home to Man United, who were 3-0 up before half-time at Craven Cottage last time out.

    They clawed one goal back to restore a modicum of respectability, but although manager Martin Jol says he does not fear the sack, another defeat may see him revise that opinion.

    Steven Gerrard is a doubt after collecting a hip injury against Arsenal. Fulham's Sascha Riether begins a three-match ban after stamping on Man United's Adnan Januzaj.

    Prediction: 3-0

Southampton v Hull

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Where: St Mary's

    When: Saturday, 9 November 15:00 GMT

    It's been quite a start to the season for Mauricio Pochettino's Saints. Now the question is, can they sustain it over the winter months?

    Last week's freak goal from Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic was just the fourth conceded by Southampton's parsimonious defence in the league, and this has provided the basis for their stay in the upper reaches of the table.

    They battled back from that early shock to draw at the Britannia Stadium. They are unbeaten on home turf as Steve Bruce's side head to St Mary's.

    The Tigers' own good form at home has led to a decent start that sees them in 10th place, but four defeats out of five away have stymied hopes of an even better position.

    Pochettino shuffled his pack in midweek for the Capital One Cup tie at Sunderland and seems to have a strong deck to pick from for Saturday. Hull's Sone Aluko is a doubt after dropping out of the Sunderland game with a calf problem in the warm-up at the KC Stadium last weekend.

    Prediction: 2-0

Norwich v West Ham

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Where: Carrow Road

    When: Saturday, 9 November 17:30 GMT

    The Canaries were thrashed 7-0 by Man City last weekend, a result that saw boss Chris Hughton become the latest Premier League manager to receive scrutiny. Understandably so, as Norwich have just one win in the league all season and are third from the bottom in the table. But at the time of this writing, the likeable Hughton is still at Carrow Road.

    West Ham have failed to trouble the scorers in their last two games, but at the same time a solid defence has not conceded either.

    But despite two consecutive draws, Sam Allardyce will be looking to get his side away from the relegation zone. The visit to Norwich represents a good chance for improvement for the Hammers.

    Rumours, courtesy of the Express' Ben Jefferson, have linked Chelsea's Demba Ba with a move to Upton Park in January, but before then West Ham could soldier on with a formation that often does not include an out-an-out striker.

    Norwich midfielder Alexander Tettey is out until the new year with an ankle injury following surgery in recent days, while Ricky van Wolfswinkel misses the West Ham match with a foot injury.

    West Ham's official website informed the world that defender Steven Reid will miss Saturday's trip to Norfolk with an ankle injury—if only more clubs would be so forthcoming with injury news!

    Prediction: 0-2

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Where: White Hart Lane

    When: 12 midday Sunday 10 November

    Spurs are still in a decent position in the table, but their lack of goals and style of play is dividing opinion, as is manager Andre Villas-Boas.

    And will the real Newcastle please stand up? They were good value for the 2-0 win over Chelsea, which came after a galling defeat to struggling local rivals Sunderland.

    The Magpies have won twice on the road this term and could spring a surprise in north London. But then again...

    Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris was passed fit for the Europa League tie on Thursday in the wake of that much-discussed concussion incident against Everton.

    Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote reported a slight strain and did not train before Thursday.

    Prediction: 2-2

Sunderland v Manchester City

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Where: Stadium of Light

    When: Sunday, 10 November 14:05 GMT

    The Capital One Cup can be a hassle for some, but the Black Cats will take a win from anywhere at the moment. That arrived against Southampton in a sparsely populated Stadium of Light on Wednesday.

    But their league position is still perilous, despite a definite lifting of the mood since the arrival of Gus Poyet as manager.

    They face a Man City side oozing with confidence after a 7-0 destruction of Norwich, which was followed up by a 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

    Manuel Pellegrini's side look to be clicking right now, but their away form has not been great with just one league win in five attempts away from Fortress Etihad.

    Will Costel Pantilimon stay in the side at Joe Hart's expense? My guess is yes, but I reserve the right to be wrong...

    Midfielder Lee Cattermole and full-back Andrea Dossena are banned following their dismissals against Hull, while Keiren Westwood was left out of the win over Southampton following a bang to the head, so No. 2 keeper Vito Mannone could retain his place if Westwood is rated not worthy of a risk.

    Vincent Kompany will be out with a calf problem for a couple more weeks at least, while David Silva and Fernandinho picked up knocks against CSKA and may not be risked.

    Prediction: 1-3

Manchester United v Arsenal

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    Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

    Where: Old trafford

    When: Sunday, 10 November 16:05 GMT

    The Reds have not lost in eight games in all competitions. They will certainly pose a threat going forward.

    However, they face a stern test against a bang-in-form Arsenal.

    As good as Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are, the battle will be won and lost in midfield.

    For Arsenal, Aaron Ramsey and Mezut Ozil are at the top of their game, with the Welsh man proving his doubters wrong while the German has justified his huge transfer fee.

    But there have been a few twists and turns in the Premier League this season—could there be another at Old Trafford?

    Jonny Evans, Michael Carrick and Rafael missed the trip to Real Sociedad with various niggles, but they could be in contention.

    Mathieu Flamini and Jack Wilshere missed the last two matches, but they could return for Old Trafford. Wilshere has been included in the England squad despite his ankle knock.

    Prediction: 2-1

Swansea City v Stoke City

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Where: Liberty Stadium

    When: Sunday, 10 November, 16:05 GMT

    It's not quite gone according to plan for Mark Hughes so far, with Stoke searching for the first win in the league since the third game of the campaign, away at West Ham.

    That run has seen them slide to just above the drop zone, and they were unable to build on that freak early goal for Asmir Begovic at home to Southampton last week.

    The Swans are only two points ahead, but they are not perceived to be having such a bad campaign, when their European exertions are taken into account.

    Kuban Krasnodar's late equaliser on Thursday will have disappointed, but not as much as the defeat to Cardiff in the south Wales derby last Sunday.

    Glenn Whelan tweaked his troublesome hamstring again and was subbed at half-time against Southampton, so he must be a doubt for Sunday.

    Swansea striker Michu is out for around four weeks with a knee injury picked up against Cardiff.

    Prediction: 1-2

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