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Premier League preview

The North East will have their say in the Premier League title race when the top two face Newcastle and Sunderland on Boxing Day.

Last Updated: 24/12/12 at 10:18

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini hoping to end 2012 better than it began ag

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini hoping to end 2012 better than it began ag

It's a busy afternoon of Boxing Day fixtures in the Premier League

The North East will have their say in the Premier League title race when the top two face Newcastle and Sunderland on Boxing Day.

League leaders Manchester United host Alan Pardew's Newcastle side, while the Premier League champions Manchester City travel to Sunderland.

United have a four point lead over City after managing only a draw at Swansea on Sunday.

Newcastle beat the Red Devils in their first game of 2012 but Sir Alex Ferguson will expect all the points against a team that is just five points above the drop zone.

Sunderland are even closer to the relegation spots, a point and a place below the Magpies, but Martin O'Neill has reason for encouragement.

Not only can the Black Cats point to Reading's battling display against Roberto Mancini's men at the weekend but Sunderland also beat City on New Year's Day thanks to Ji Dong-Won's late goal.

O'Neill has had his struggles since then but he will be looking to end the year how it began with a morale-boosting triumph.

Live on Sky

In the televised games, Aston Villa have the chance to bounce back from their eight-goal thrashing at Chelsea when they host Tottenham in front of the Sky Sports 1 HD cameras at 5.30pm.

With Arsenal's game against West Ham cancelled due to transport issues, Spurs will move above their north London rivals if they can avoid defeat at Villa Park.

After that match, it's the turn of Stoke and Liverpool to take centre-stage as they clash in the 7.45pm kick-off live on Sky Sports 1 HD.

Stoke have the meanest defence in the Premier League but no team in the division has scored fewer so it could be a tight affair as Tony Pulis and Brendan Rodgers square off in the Potteries.

Down at the bottom, it's a big day for Queens Park Rangers as they host West Bromwich Albion at Loftus Road.

Harry Redknapp was unbeaten in his first four games in charge of the Hoops but defeat to Newcastle on Saturday was a setback and they need wins fast if they are to escape the drop.

Desperate

The situation is even more desperate for Reading who sit bottom of the pile with just nine points so far this season. Brian McDermott will be targeting three much-needed points when the Royals entertain Swansea.

Elsewhere, Chelsea look to build on Sunday's sensational drubbing of Villa and strengthen their grip on third place when they travel to Norwich.

The Canaries saw their 10-game unbeaten run end in defeat at West Brom last time out but they are a tough proposition at Carrow Road so the Blues will need to be at their best to claim the points.

Playing to their best is something Fulham failed to do at Anfield at the weekend but that four-goal beating needs to be forgotten as the Cottagers host struggling Southampton.

The Saints have won three of their last six but are only kept out of the drop zone on goal difference so need to maintain that form if they are to survive.

Wigan are the team the other side of that line at the moment and, while Roberto Martinez has a habit of finding a way to stay up, the Latics need a win at Everton to stop the rot.

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