Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-by-Game Guide: A Super Sunday to Savour

Richard MorganContributor IMarch 13, 2014

Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-by-Game Guide: A Super Sunday to Savour

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    With another round of fixtures coming up in the Premier League this weekend, we look ahead to what promises to be two more days of eye-catching top-flight drama with all 20 teams in action.

    And so whether it be the north London derby, champions Manchester United hosting arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford, or leaders Chelsea’s trip to struggling Aston Villa, Week 30 of the campaign is set to prove pivotal in the outcome of the championship.

Hull City V Manchester City

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    Where: KC Stadium

    When: Saturday 15 March, 12:45 p.m. GMT

    The Premier League weekend kicks off with what should be an intriguing clash in the north east between two sides at differing ends of the table.

    Form

    While the Tigers have won only one of their previous seven home matches in the Premier League, City are unbeaten in their past seven top-flight encounters on the road.

    Key Battles

    No team has enjoyed an easy ride at the KC so far this season, and Steve Bruce may just feel this is an ideal time to be facing the title favourites, coming so soon as it does after their trip to Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

    However, with so much at stake for the visitors, expect their greater class and power in midfield to be the difference between the two sides.

    Prediction: Hull 1-2 City

    A huge win for Manuel Pellegrini and Co in their quest to keep up with Chelsea at the top of the table.

Everton V Cardiff City

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    Where: Goodison Park

    When: Saturday 15 March, 3 p.m. GMT

    Nothing but the three points will do for the Toffees against the strugglers from south Wales if they are to retain any hope whatsoever of finishing in the top four of the league come May.

    Form

    The relegation-threatened Bluebirds go into this encounter having won just one of their last 11 top-flight matches on their travels, a run that includes seven defeats on the bounce, while the Merseysiders have lost only once at home in the league all season long.

    Key Battles

    The visitors’ back five will need to show discipline, courage, skill and a fair bit of luck too if they are to leave Goodison unbeaten this weekend, although their opponents have struggled of late to break down stubborn teams at home.

    Prediction: Everton 2-0 Cardiff

    Roberto Martinez’s UEFA Champions League-chasing outfit should just have too much class for the visitors.

Fulham V Newcastle United

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    Where: Craven Cottage

    When: Saturday 15 March, 3 p.m. GMT

    If the Cottagers are to beat the drop this season, then they need to start winning their home games, and fast, starting with the visit of the Magpies this weekend.

    Form

    The west London club have actually won their last four league games in a row at home to the Geordies, although they will need to keep an eye out for the visitors’ mercurial playmaker Hatem Ben Arfa, with the Frenchman having netted in each of his last three top-flights contests against Fulham.

    Key Battles

    Can the home side create enough chances, and then take those openings, against a Newcastle side who have been far from convincing on the road of late?

    Prediction: Fulham 1-1 Newcastle

    Spoils shared in a result that is of little use to Felix Magath’s men in their battle to remain in the Premier League.

Southampton V Norwich City

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    Where: St Mary’s

    When: Saturday 15 March, 3 p.m. GMT

    The high-flying Saints will be expected to emerge victorious from this encounter against the relegation-threatened Canaries on the south coast.

    Form

    Surprisingly given their lofty position in the league, Mauricio Pochettino’s team have won just one of their previous eight matches at home in the top flight, although surely they will improve on that disappointing record against visitors who have lost eight of their last 11 on their travels in the Premier League, including four on the bounce.

    Key battles

    How Chris Hughton’s back line manage to deal with the twin attacking threats posed by the home side’s England duo of Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez will go a long way towards deciding the outcome of this fixture.

    Prediction: Southampton 2-0 Norwich

    Southampton have too much about them up front for Chris Hughton’s men, who continue their struggles on the road this season.

Stoke City V West Ham United

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    Where: Britannia Stadium

    When: Saturday 15 March, 3 p.m. GMT

    With both sides currently level in the table on 31 points, albeit with the Hammers having played a game less than the Potters, whoever wins this contest will move one step closer to the magical 40-point mark and safety.

    Form

    Incredibly, only five sides have collected more than the 24 points which Mark Hughes’ men have accrued at home in the league in this campaign.

    However, Stoke know they face a tough task trying to breach the east Londoners’ back four, with the visitors going into this fixture having conceded only one goal, with three clean sheets, in their last four top-flight matches.

    Key battles

    It looks like being a case of West Ham’s impregnable defence against Stoke’s always threatening front line on Saturday.

    Prediction: Stoke 1-0 West Ham

    This is sure to be a tight contest, with the first goal as often proving decisive in the outcome.

Sunderland V Crystal Palace

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    Where: Stadium of Light

    When: Saturday 15 March, 15:00 p.m. GMT

    Talk about a relegation six-pointer, with these two clubs separated by just three points and three places in the table going into this showdown on Wearside.

    Form

    The Black Cats enter this massive encounter having won just one of their previous seven games at home in the league.

    But Gus Poyet and Co will at least be heartened by the fact that they face a side who have scored only six goals in their 13 Premier League contests on the road this season, the fewest in the entire top flight.

    Key battles

    The Eagles will aim to hit the home team on the counter-attack with their pacy and skilful forward players, while the home team are sure to have plenty of the ball, but will they possess the necessary guile to be able to break down the visitors’ well-organised back line though?

    Prediction: Sunderland 1-0 Palace

    Tight affairs such as these are often decided by a moment of magic from a set play, so step forward in-form Sunderland winger Adam Johnson…

Swansea City V West Bromwich Albion

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    Where: Liberty Stadium

    When: Saturday 15 March, 3 p.m. GMT

    Similar to the match at the Stadium of Light, this is also another huge fixture at the bottom of the table, although perhaps more so for the Baggies than their hosts.

    Form

    Surprisingly, the Swans have been victorious in only four of their last 19 league contests in south Wales, while the visitors are winless on the road in their previous 10 top-flight games.

    Key battles

    Both outfits like to keep the ball on the deck and pass to feet, although you get the feeling that it will be the home side doing most of the attacking in this particular match, meaning England international Ben Foster is set for a busy, and potentially decisive, afternoon in the West Brom goal.

    Prediction: Swansea 1-0 West Brom

    The Baggies slip further into trouble on the back of this narrow loss in the Principality.

     

     

Aston Villa V Chelsea

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    Where: Villa Park

    When: Saturday 15 March, 5.30 p.m. GMT

    Mid-table Villa become the latest team to try and halt the Chelsea juggernaut in the Midlands this weekend, although you’d be a brave man to predict anything other than another win for the visitors.

    Form

    Amazingly, the home team have not recorded successive league wins at Villa Park since August 2011, while they face a Blues side who are unbeaten in their last six encounters on the road in the top flight, winning four of them, while keeping four clean sheets and conceding just two goals in the process.

    Key battles

    Paul Lambert’s men need to somehow find a way of piercing the visitors’ mean defence this weekend, while at the same time being wary of not getting caught on the break by the Chelsea counter-attackers, which is no easy task.

    Prediction: Villa 1-2 Chelsea

    Jose Mourinho and Co continue their relentless march towards the title in front of the live TV cameras on Saturday evening.

     

Manchester United V Liverpool

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    Where: Old Trafford

    When: Sunday 16 March, 1:30 p.m. GMT

    As ever, the standout fixture of the entire Premier League calendar as England’s two biggest clubs go head-to-head with a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League up for grabs.

    Form

    The Red Devils have won eight of their previous nine home contests in the league against the Reds, although only one side, Arsenal, have managed to keep a clean sheet against the Merseysiders in their last 16 top-flight games on the road.

    Key battles

    This could ultimately come down to a straight shootout between United’s Robin van Persie, who has six goals in his previous seven starts against Liverpool in the league, and Daniel Sturridge, who has netted in his last two Premier League fixtures against the champions.

    Prediction: United 1-1 Liverpool

    Too close to call this one, but in the end a point is far more useful to Liverpool than it is for United.

Tottenham Hotspur V Arsenal

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    Where: White Hart Lane

    When: Sunday 16 March, 4 p.m. GMT

    With just six points currently separating these two archrivals in the league, this is a north London derby of huge significance for both sides.

    Form

    While Spurs have managed to keep four clean sheets in their last five top-flight encounters at home, the Gunners have recorded just one shutout in their previous seven away matches in the Premier League, while winning none of the last three on the road.

    Key battles

    These are normally bad-tempered and fast-paced affairs, although you wonder if Arsenal’s draining encounter at Bayern Munich on Tuesday night could just tip the balance in the home team’s favour, especially as derbies like these are invariably decided by the finest of details.

    Prediction: Tottenham 1-0 Arsenal

    Sweet revenge for Tim Sherwood’s men after losing twice already to the Gunners at the Emirates earlier this season.