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Saturday, 12 April 2014, 15:07

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Premier League preview

Another blockbuster Super Sunday and Manchester United's Saturday trip to Aston Villa are the standout matches among this weekend's Premier League fixtures.

Last Updated: 19/11/12 at 12:57 Post Comment   

Roberto Di Matteo: Chelsea want to get a win in the Premier League against rival

Roberto Di Matteo: Chelsea want to get a win in the Premier League against rival

Elsewhere, Arsenal host Fulham in a London derby, Everton welcome struggling Sunderland and Norwich City aim to increase Reading's problems.

Rock-bottom Southampton also meet Swansea City, West Ham United travel to Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion go to Wigan Athletic.

Sunday is the big day in the Premier League, as four of the top flight's heavyweights meet in two separate games. In the lunchtime kick-off, third-placed Manchester City welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Etihad Stadium and know they need to address their recent wobble. Roberto Mancini's position as City boss has come under scrutiny after a few months of uncertainty. Tinkering with formations and poor on-field performances have left England's defending champions in a far-from-perfect state. And in the wake of the midweek UEFA Champions League draw with Ajax, Mancini knows any further slip up against a Spurs team who only trail City by five points, despite last weekend's shock loss to Wigan, would be unacceptable.

Desperate

Later on Sunday, Chelsea and Liverpool renew their rivalry at Stamford Bridge. After several meetings in the Champions League and cup finals, including last season's FA Cup, since the turn of the Millennium, these fixtures have developed into tense encounters. Add to the fact £50million man Fernando Torres will likely be facing former club Liverpool and it promises to be another fiery clash. After losing top spot in the table to Manchester United, Roberto Di Matteo's Chelsea will want to get back on track while Liverpool's Brendan Rodgers, who worked for the Blues' coaching staff earlier in his career, is desperate for a change of luck.

Newcastle know November is an important month in their long-term quest to qualify for the Champions League and the noises coming out of Alan Pardew's squad are that they view league games against West Ham, Swansea, Southampton and Stoke as winnable. After the exciting draw with Liverpool last weekend, they will want maximum points but West Ham's former Newcastle boss, Sam Allardyce, ex-captain, Kevin Nolan, and previous striker, Andy Carroll, will have other ideas as they return to St James' Park.

Saturday also sees some important games at both ends of the table and Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United will want to build a four-point gap over their closest rivals by winning at Aston Villa in the evening game. The fixture, which can be seen live on Sky Sports 2HD and 3D, is of equal magnitude to Paul Lambert's Villa after they won a first league game in six last weekend to move four points clear of the relegation zone. Villa, though, have won just one of the last 33 Premier League meetings with Ferguson's team.

With disappointing on-field results and controversial AGMs, Arsenal have endured disappointment as winter has arrived. And a London derby against Fulham, managed by former Tottenham boss Martin Jol, looks like another potential banana skin. Ahead of their short trip to Emirates Stadium, the Craven Cottage club are unbeaten in four matches, although they have drawn three of those games, and they will have eyes on a first win in their history at Arsenal.

Everton could move to within four points of the top of the table if they end a four-game streak of draws by adding to Martin O'Neill and Sunderland's problems at Goodison Park. David Moyes' squad have made a nonsense of their traditional tag as slow starters and sit in the Champions League places ahead of the weekend. In contrast, Sunderland, who have not won in their last 15 Premier League games against Everton, sit just two places above the relegation zone. A first away win in 13 league games for shot-shy Sunderland would be quite a shock.

No complacency

Like Everton, West Brom are flying high and, ahead of visiting Wigan, they find themselves in fifth position. Steve Clarke has been earning widespread praise but he will know his team need to improve their form on their travels. West Brom have taken 15 of their 17 Premier League points this season on home soil and are yet to register an away win. Wigan boss Roberto Martinez does not want his side to be complacent after their heroics at White Hart Lane last weekend.

After a comprehensive defeat by West Brom on Monday, Southampton are bottom of the table. Manager Nigel Adkins has been having to answer questions on his future and he will know he is under scrutiny. Southampton continue to struggle defensively, which will mean Michael Laudrup's Swansea City, fresh from drawing with Chelsea last Saturday, will want to take advantage at St Mary's.

Queens Park Rangers remain without a victory after their predictable draw with fellow winless side Reading and so Mark Hughes continues the chase for a sought-after three points at Stoke City. Tony Pulis' side have themselves gone four league games without a win to leave in the clump of clubs just four points clear of the drop zone. But they can be confident when combining their 11 league-game unbeaten run at Britannia Stadium with QPR's 18-match winless run away from home.

Brian McDermott must be wondering what Reading have to do to pick up a Premier League win since lifting the Championship trophy at the end of last season. They were pegged back in their draw with QPR and in the previous week had to grab a late point against Fulham. Norwich will hope to increase the problems at Madejski Stadium but Chris Hughton will be aware his club have gone on a record-breaking run of failing to keep a clean sheet in their last 38 Premier League away games.

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