Premier League Returns

After the break for the F.A Cup action last weekend, Premier League football returns this weekend with the top two teams, Chelsea and Manchester City, currently separated only on alphabetical order.  Here’s a rundown of the fixtures, which are the reverse of the games that were played in the first weekend in December.

Keeper Simon Mignolet will be hoping to improve his form against his old club
Keeper Simon Mignolet will be hoping to improve his form against his old club

Sunderland vs Liverpool

Last time: Liverpool 0-0 Sunderland

Liverpool won their rematch with AFC Wimbledon in the F.A. Cup on Monday night, but they will be eager to pick up three points in the league to remain in any contention for a top four spot, as they are currently seven behind Southampton.  Sunderland’s only victory in their last ten league matches was against Newcastle in the Tyne-Wear derby, but they are still three points above the relegation zone.  The Black Cats last won a Premier League game at home on October 4th, so they will be very eager to show some form in front of their own supporters.  Prediction: Draw

Burnley vs QPR

Last time: QPR 2-0 Burnley

Queens Park Rangers have lost all nine of their away league matches this season and if they cannot get a result against one of the bottom of the sides, they might go the whole season without picking up any points on the road.  Burnley got two credible draws away at Manchester City and Newcastle in their last two league games and a victory over QPR would lift them out of the bottom three.  Prediction: Burnley win

Chelsea vs Newcastle

Last time: Newcastle 2-1 Chelsea

Newcastle inflicted Chelsea’s first defeat of the season last time they met, but this time they will be without Papiss Cissé and Chieck Tiote, both of whom are on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.  Also, the Magpies still do not have a manager after Alan Pardew’s departure to Crystal Palace.  Chelsea have a perfect record at home in the league and will be eager to get back on track after their 5-3 defeat to Tottenham on New Year’s Day. Prediction: Chelsea win

Roberto Martinez will not be getting any thumbs up from Everton fans if their current form continues
Roberto Martinez will not be getting any thumbs up from Everton fans if their current form continues

Everton vs Manchester City

Last time: Manchester City 1-0 Everton

Everton have been in free-fall lately and have lost their last four Premier League matches.  The Toffees did beat City four consecutive times in the league at Goodison Park, but that streak was ended by a 3-2 defeat last May.  YaYa Toure is in Equatorial Guinea for the ACON, so Frank Lampard is likely to start in the City midfield.  Prediction: Manchester City win

Leicester City vs Aston Villa

Last time: Aston Villa 2-1 Leicester City

Of Aston Villa’s eleven league goals, two of them came against the Foxes in the reverse fixture.  Leicester will have Mark Schwarzer available in goal, but their new striker Andrej Kamaric, signed for £9m from Dinamo Zagreb, will not have his work permit in time to make his debut.  Prediction: Draw

Swansea vs West Ham

Last time:  West Ham 3-1 Swansea

Swansea always knew that they would be without Wilfried Bony for this fixture, as he is representing Côte D’Ivoire at the ACON, but the striker also looks likely to have played his final game for the South Wales club as he is on the brink of a big-money move to Manchester City.  West Ham have also lost some players to the Africa Cup of Nations, but crucially not Alex Song, who has retired from international duty with Cameroon.  Prediction: West Ham win

West Brom vs Hull

Last time: Hull 0-0 West Brom

Two teams sitting just above the relegation zone, West Brom at least have the advantage of now employing Tony Pulis as their manager.  After the heroics Pulis performed with Crystal Palace last year, Baggies supporters will be hoping that their side will be steered away from relegation trouble.  Hull have won two of their last three Premier League games, but had failed to pick up three points in their previous ten before that improvement.  Prediction: West Brom win

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

Last time: Tottenham 0-0 Crystal Palace

Another team with a new manager, Palace will have Alan Pardew on the bench for the first time in a Premier League contest this weekend.  Tottenham have won as many games (five) away from home as they have at White Hart Lane in the Premier League this season, but they were lucky to get away with a point in the reverse fixture last month.  Palace will be without two of their best players as Yannick Bolaise and Mile Jedinak are on international duty at the ACON and Asian Cup respectively.  If Spurs win their F.A Cup third round replay with Burnley on Wednesday evening, they will end up playing nine matches in January, five of which will be cup competitions. Prediction: Spurs win

Arsenal vs Stoke

Last time: Stoke 3-2 Arsenal

In the match at the Britannia Stadium a month ago, Stoke were unlucky not to go 4-0 up in the second half, as they had a goal ruled out before Arsenal scored twice to make it a close contest.   However, at the Emirates Stoke have nowhere near the strong record against the Gunners as they do at home.   A victory for Arsenal would put them to within a point of the top four. Prediction: Arsenal win

Manchester United vs Southampton

Last time: Southampton 1-2 Manchester United

United were very lucky to come away with a victory from the contest at St. Mary’s last month, but their unbeaten run now stretches back to the Manchester derby at the beginning of November.  The winner of this contest between the third and fourth placed teams will be in poll position to claim one of their remaining two Champions League places behind Chelsea and Manchester City. Prediction: Manchester United win



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