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Premier League preview: 24th November 2012

All eyes will be on Stamford Bridge this weekend to see if Rafael Benitez can claim first victory as Chelsea boss against champions Manchester City

The Premier League programme kicks off at the Stadium of Light this weekend, where Sunderland host West Brom in the early kick-off.

The Blacks Cats picked-up only their second win of the campaign last weekend with a 3-1 victory at ten-man Fulham.

However, the North East club have struggled for goals this season. The Fulham win could inspire confidence in the ranks though and may lead to an improvement in form.

The visitors have been the surprise package this season in the Premier League and currently sit fourth in the league table.

In fact Steve Clarke’s side could go up to third with a win at Sunderland. The Baggies will be buoyed by their 2-1 defeat of Chelsea last weekend.

If the Baggies slip-up then Everton will could go above them with a win over Norwich at Goodison Park. The Toffee’s suffered an unexpected defeat at Reading last weekend and will be looking to bounce back in this fixture.

They will have to do it without key man Marouane Fellaini though, as the Belgium international is serving a one-match ban.

Although the visitors are currently 13th in the Premier League table the Canaries are on a very decent run. In fact Chris Hughton’s side have only conceded one goal in their last five top flight games.

Norwich produced an outstanding display last weekend, as they defeated Manchester United 1-0 at Carrow Road. A win could take them into the top half of the table.

Manchester United host QPR at Old Trafford looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Carrow Road. United are currently a point behind leaders and champions Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.

The Red Devils could return to the top of the table with a win here, with City facing a difficult trip to Chelsea on Sunday.

The visitors head into this clash without a manager, after Mark Hughes was sacked on Friday morning. The Hoops have yet to pick-up a Premier League victory this season and that led to the demise of Hughes.

The away side are rock bottom of the Premier League table and are currently five points away from safety.

Elsewhere Stoke host Fulham at the Britannia Stadium. The home side haven’t lost any of their previous 12 games at home, but the Potters are the draw specialists this season. Tony Pulis’ side drew 1-1 with West Ham last time out.

Fulham suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Sunderland last weekend. The Cottagers are ninth in the Premier League table, but haven’t claimed a victory in their last four games. A win could take Martin Jol’s side into the top six though.

Fulham are without a number of key players including Bryan Ruiz and Brede Hangeland. The pair are joined on the sidelines by Kieran Richardson and Alex Kacaniklic.

In the late kick-off Aston Villa host Arsenal at Villa Park. Villa lost 5-0 at Manchester City in their last league outing and are now in the relegation zone. A victory against the Gunners could move Paul Lambert’s side out of the drop zone though.

However, a home victory is unlikely as Villa have won none of their last 13 games against the visitors.

The Gunners are in decent form after winning 5-2 against Tottenham last weekend and beating Montpellier in the Champions League in midweek. The likes of Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski have started to find their feet with the Gunners and they will be hard to stop.

There is also a busy schedule of top flight games on Sunday. The action kicks-off at the Liberty Stadium, where Swansea host Liverpool. The game features the return of former-Swans boss Brendan Rodgers to the Liberty Stadium.

Rodgers good work has been carried on by new boss Michael Laudrup. The Swans find themselves a place above opponents Liverpool in the top flight table, a point above the Reds.

Liverpool are currently on a run of seven games unbeaten in the Premier League and hammered Wigan 3-0 last weekend at Anfield. Striker Luis Suarez is currently in top-form and scored a brace against the Latics.

Southampton host Newcastle at St Marys in the 3PM kick-off. The Saints secured a vital 3-1 win at QPR last weekend to move within a point of safety. However the side from the South Coast have claimed just one victory at home this season and have the leakiest defence in the top flight.

Newcastle have looked like a shadow of the team that challenged for the top four last season and currently sit 12th in the Premier League table. The Magpies head into this clash without key players Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse, but will still hope to claim a victory that will move them up the table.

In one of the biggest games of the weekend Chelsea welcome champions Manchester City to Stamford Bridge. The home side will have a new man in the dugout, after Rafa Benitez replaced Roberto Di Matteo as Blues boss.

The Spaniard will have to take Chelsea out of a mini-slump. The Blues have failed to win in five games in all competitions and lost the last two games to West Brom and Juventus.

Manchester City went to the top of the Premier League last weekend with a 5-0 hammering of Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium. However the Citizens were knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday, after a 1-1 draw with Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Tottenham host West Ham in the final game of the weekend at White Hart Lane. The home side will be desperate for a win to recover from their 5-2 derby day defeat to Arsenal last time out in the Premier League.

The visitors are enjoying their first season back in the Premier League after promotion last season. The Hammers drew 1-1 with Stoke on Monday and are one place and two points above their opponents in the Premier League table.

Can Rafa Benitez claim victory in his first game in charge of Chelsea?

Sat 24 November, 2012
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