QPR vs. Tottenham
QPR did well to pull off a victory at Stamford Bridge in their last Premier League match, but that was against a Chelsea side who were recovering from an especially busy festive period, where they packed in nine matches in the month of December alone. Now they face a very much in-form Spurs who have just won four consecutive matches. Bale has been nothing short of exceptional,whilst Dempsey is improving rapidly. I am sure they will put in another threatening performance, which will be too much for QPR this week end. QPR simply must get a result however as they look to pull off a great escape under former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, so a draw is a definite possibility.
Aston Villa vs. Southampton
Vill have been really poor since their victory at Anfield on 15th December. They went on to concede 17 goals in four matches, and just this week they suffered another setback, being dominated by a League 2 side in the Capital One Cup. In addition to these defensive woes, their once, albeit brief talisman Benteke has only scored once in the past six outings, which was a penalty. There is thus much to worry about. Southampton have had their fare share of denfensive issues too, but up front they seem threatening. They were unlucky not to get three points against Arsenal, and did well to score three Away at Stoke. The likes of Ricky Lambert, Jay Rodriguez and Gaston Ramirez will be too much for this shaky Villa defence.
Everton vs. Swansea
The Swans are unbeaten in six matches in all competitions and its important to note that its hasn’t solely been the ‘Michu Show’ during their current run of form. Danny Graham has scored four goals in as many matches and deserves his current plaudits. Swansea’s attacking quality is thus fairly diverse, but will it be enough to see off an Everton side who are very strong at Home? I don’t reckon so. Swansea are on a high at the moment, but this game will be their fourth in eleven days and they will indeed have one eye on their FA Cup 3rd Round Replay against Arsenal mid-week. So I feel, they may fall short due to circumstances. Otherwise, they undoubtedly have the quality to get three points.
Fulham vs. Wigan
Berbatov’s goals will be key to Fulham’s chances in climbing up the table. He has now scored twice in the last three League games. Everyone knows that he has a lot more to offer, as a striker and hopefully for Martin Jol, he’ll turn up again this week end in front of the Craven Cottage faithful who haven’t had much to cheer about this season. Wigan have indeed provided a few shocks Away from Home this season, but I feel this is a tougher test.
Norwich vs. Newcastle
Both these sides are on an awful run of form at the moment. Norwich have lost four League games in a row and Newcastle have lost three, followed by a shocking exit in the FA Cup at the hands of Championship side, Brighton. However there is hope for improvement for both sides, which I feel will start with a score draw. The departure of the Magpies’ top scorer Demba Ba can be seen as an opportunity for Papis Cisse to rediscover himself and return to the form he was in at the start of 2012. Norwich, too finally regained their defensive qualities, by registering their first clean sheet since November in the FA Cup last week-end.
Reading vs. West Brom
Reading are improving and in their last Home game in the Premier League, they came out on top against a decent West Ham side. Their cup win at the week-end will further instil some confidence in the lead up to this fixture. Furthermore, the
exciting signing of Daniel Carrico could significantly add to their survival bid. He may get his first start against West Brom, who have failed to win in their last three games. Their travel sickness is still worrying having lost half of their Away games this term. They face another tough encounter on the road, on Saturday.
Stoke vs. Chelsea
As I said earlier, the European Champions are suffering from their exceptionally busy end to 2012. Their costly mistakes against Swansea in the Capital One Cup are indeed very rare, but now they’re up against the only side who remain unbeaten at Home in the League this season. Benitez needs to start Demba Ba if he wants his side to get something from this fixture, which I think they will. Stoke have become slightly vulnerable at the back, conceding seven goals in their last three League games, which is very unlike them. I still believe their Home advantage will be pivotal and thus help them to gain a point against a very tired Chelsea squad, even with the potential return of John Terry. Conversely Chelsea have not lost to Stoke since their promotion to the Premier League winning 8 out of 10 clashes between the two clubs in cup and league fixtures.
Sunderland vs. West Ham
Sunderland registered back-to-back victories in the League against Southampton and Man City, but failed to build upon it. West Ham did very well to get a point against United in the FA Cup and will indeed feel very hard done by, becoming another victim of the RVP late goal trend. Nonetheless, they have added to their squad and will only make them improve, but a win Away at Sunderland this week end will be a tall order.
Manchester United vs. Liverpool
Recent draws at Swansea and West Ham show that United’s weaknesses are still very prevalent despite being seven points clear at the top. Liverpool just registered consecutive clean sheets in the League which will give their defence the confidence and determination needed to stop Robin Van Persie. Further to this, the Reds have scored eleven in their last four EPL games, five of which were from the boot of Luis Suarez, who turns up for the big games, having scored against the likes of Chelsea and Man City this season. The Uruguayan has also scored eight League goals Away from home this season, which is an impressive tally which will do him the world of good in the lead up to the trip to Old Trafford. I do not see Brendan Rogers’ side getting more than a point on Sunday, but they have the quality to cause many problems for the League leaders.
Arsenal vs. Man City
There was so much potential for Wenger’s men to build upon their three match winning streak but instead they put in a abysmal performance Away at Southampton, where we witnessed another disastrous defensive error. The Champions were at fault too, on a few occasions during the festive period, and now they are without their top scorer for their trip to the Emirates, something Arsenal can take solace in. Man City have not won at Arsenal in the League, since 1975 and this will hopefully put them in good stead to get at least a draw on Sunday.