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Premier League preview 1st January 2013

Marouane Fellaini returns from his three-match ban as Everton visit Newcastle on Wednesday night

The New Year kicks-off with a full programme of midweek Premier League games.

In the first top flight game of 2013 West Brom hosts Fulham at the Hawthorns.

The Baggies are seventh in the Premier League, just three points behind fourth place Tottenham, despite losing 2-0 at Manchester United last time out.

The visitors have dropped down the table in recent weeks and have claimed just one win from their last 12 top flight games.

Martin Jol’s side are just four points clear of the relegation zone and are in desperate need of three points.

Manchester United start the new year seven points clear of city rivals Manchester City. The Red Devils visit Wigan on New Year’s Day looking to cement that lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men have won seven out of their previous eight games and will once again be looking for a victory at the DW Stadium.

However, United lost at Wigan last season and the defeat contributed to the Red Devils losing the league title to Manchester City. The Latics moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa at the weekend, but will have difficult task when United roll into town.

Manchester City will hope that United slip up as Roberto Mancini’s side host Stoke at Etihad Stadium. City won 4-3 at Norwich on Saturday, but will be hoping that they have an easier game on Tuesday.

Stoke won’t be pushovers though, as the Potters are on a ten match unbeaten run. Stoke drew 3-3 with Southampton last weekend to preserve their unbeaten home record and have the best defensive record in the top flight, conceding just 17 goals in the top flight this season.

Arsenal visit Southampton looking to move back into the top four. The Gunners hit Southampton for six in the reverse fixture and defeated Newcastle 7-3 on Saturday. Arsenal will be looking to former-Saints star Theo Walcott to provide the firepower, after the England international fired home a hat-trick against Newcastle.

The Saints are back in the relegation zone, after throwing away a two goal lead at Stoke on Saturday to draw 3-3. Nigel Adkins men have one of the worse defensive records in the top flight, but always provide a threat going forward through the likes of Rickie Lambert and Gaston Ramirez.

Aston Villa visit Swansea’s Liberty Stadium, after conceding 15 goals in their last three top flight games. Villa lost 3-0 at home to fellow strugglers Wigan in their last outing and slipped into the relegation zone.

Swansea meanwhile are sitting comfortably in midtable, after winning 2-1 at Fulham in their last Premier League game. The Swans have doubts over the fitness of star player Michu. The Spaniard’s replacement at Fulham was Danny Graham, who found the net. The former-Middlesbrough star could spearhead the Welsh sides attack once again.

Tottenham host struggling Reading at White Hart Lane, looking to continue their good run of form. Spurs have won six of their last eight games in the top flight and won 2-1 at Sunderland last time outing. They will be without star player Gareth Bale though, as the winger picked up his fifth yellow card of the season for simulation at the Stadium of Light.

The visitors arrive in London unbeaten in their last two matches. The Royals moved off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win against West Ham at the weekend. The Royals are still five points away from safety and that gap doesn’t look like being cut in North London.

West Ham host Norwich at the Boleyn Ground looking to end a run of four games without a win, including a weekend defeat at struggling Reading. A victory would move the Irons above the visitors in the league table.

Norwich have suffered three consecutive defeats and will be looking to put an end to that poor run of results. Their 4-3 weekend home defeat to Manchester City was perhaps slightly harsh and boss Chris Hughton will be hoping his side travel home from London with maximum points.

There are three games on Wednesday night. In-form Chelsea face a home game against rock-bottom QPR at Stamford Bridge. The Blues have won four games in a row and battled to a 2-1 victory at Everton last time out. The victory moved Chelsea up to third in the Premier League table.

QPR are in major trouble after losing 3-0 at home to Liverpool on Sunday. Harry Redknapp’s side are now eight points away from safety. The Hoops face a major challenge to get anything from their trip to their local rivals.

Liverpool host Sunderland at Anfield, after that comfortable 3-0 victory at QPR. The Reds have been inconsistent this season, but will be hoping to record their second consecutive victory over the Black Cats.

Sunderland’s recent revival came to a halt at the weekend with a 2-1 home defeat to Tottenham. However, the visitors recent form had moved away from the relegation zone, but the North East side are now just five points clear of the danger zone.

Out-of-form Newcastle host Everton at St James Park. Injury-hit Newcastle have lost five out of their last six top flight games. Speculation about the future of star striker Demba Ba will no doubt unsettle the home team. The Magpies were hammered 7-3 at Arsenal last time out and face a tough challenge against the visitors.

Despite suffering defeat against Chelsea at the weekend Everton will be pleased with the campaign so far. The Toffee’s have lost just three games out their last 29 in the Premier League and will welcome star midfielder Marouane Fellaini back from suspension for this clash.

Will there be any surprises in the first Premier League games of 2013?

Tue 1 January, 2013
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