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Premier League preview 29th December 2012

Tottenham’s Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick at Villa last time out and will be looking to add to his tally at Sunderland on Saturday

This weekend’s Premier League action kicks-off at the Stadium of Light, where Sunderland host Tottenham in the early kick-off on Saturday.

The hosts surprised champions Manchester City 1-0 last time out and have now claimed two consecutive victories.

The Black Cats face a tough challenge on Saturday though against high-flying Spurs.

The visitors are fourth in the Premier League table, after winning 4-0 at Aston Villa courtesy of a hat-trick from Gareth Bale. Andre Villas-Boas’ side could go third in the table with a win in the north east.

Aston Villa have conceded 12 goals in their last two Premier League games and are just three points clear of the relegation zone. However, Villa host fellow strugglers Wigan at Villa Park hoping to pick-up a vital victory.

The visitors lost 2-1 at Everton on Boxing Day and have lost five out of their last six games in the top flight, drawing the other game. Roberto Martinez’s men have played some decent football in those defeats though and will be hoping to move out of the relegation zone with a win in the Midlands.

Manchester United’s 4-3 victory Newcastle on Boxing Day sent the Red Devils seven points clear of champions Manchester City at the top of the table. United host surprise package West Brom at Old Trafford looking to sustain their lead at the top of the table.

The Baggies won 2-1 at QPR last time out and kept Steve Clarke’s side level on points with fourth place Tottenham. However, the side from the Midlands have failed to keep a clean sheet away from home this season and United are the top Premier League scorers.

Champions Manchester City visit Norwich looking to get back to form after lacklustre displays in recent weeks, including that 1-0 defeat at Sunderland on Boxing Day. City can’t afford to slip-up again as they make the tough trip to East Anglia.

Norwich suffered a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea last time out, but have been in decent form in recent months. The Canaries’ ten game unbeaten run came to an end at West Brom last weekend, but Chris Hughton’s side are sitting comfortably in midtable.

Reading host West Ham at the Madejski Stadium, looking to move closer to exiting the relegation zone. The Royals are currently six points away from safety, after their 0-0 draw with Swansea on Boxing Day. The draw took Reading off the bottom of the Premier League table.

The visitors lost 2-1 against Everton at the Boleyn Ground on Boxing Day. The Irons are in midtable despite the defeat and will have striker Carlton Cole available after his sending-off against the Toffee’s was overturned.

Stoke host Southampton at the Britannia Stadium. The Potters are unbeaten at home this season and are just five points away from fourth place Tottenham, after an impressive 3-1 win against Liverpool on Boxing Day.

It wasn’t all good news for Tony Pulis’ side though, as defenders Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron picked up their fifth bookings of the season, ruling the pair out of the clash with the Saints.

Southampton are only a point above the relegation zone, after drawing 1-1 with Fulham on Boxing Day. Nigel Adkins’ side have yet to claim victory away from home this season and have conceded goals at an alarming rate on their travels.

Fulham have been out-of-form recently, but will be hoping to get back on track with a victory when they host Swansea at Craven Cottage. The Cottagers have claimed just one victory in their last 11 matches and drew with struggling Southampton at home on Boxing Day.

Swansea drew 0-0 at Reading on Boxing Day and star player Michu limped off. The Spaniard is a big doubt for the trip to London and will be missed should he fail to make the clash. The Welsh side have enjoyed mixed fortunes of late, but still sit ninth in the Premier League table.

Arsenal welcome Newcastle to the Emirates Stadium in Saturdays late kick-off. The Gunners game against West Ham on Boxing Day was postponed. Arsenal will be looking for their fourth consecutive Premier League victory against the north east side.

The visitors lost 4-3 at Manchester United on Boxing Day, despite a good performance. The Magpies are now 15th in the Premier League and have lost seven from their last nine top flight games. Alan Pardew’s side have also failed to win on their travels this season.

In one of the games of the weekend fifth place Everton host third placed Chelsea at Goodison Park. Everton’s Boxing Day 2-1 win at West Ham keep them on level points with fourth placed Tottenham. The Toffee’s are unbeaten in 12 home matches, but will face a stern test when Rafa Benitez’s side roll into town.

The Blues have won the last three games in all competitions, scoring 13 goals in the process. Benitez is starting to win over Blues fans, despite their very vocal dislike of the former-Liverpool chief, and a victory could take the Blues just a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League table.

In the final game of the weekend struggling QPR host Liverpool at Loftus Road. The Hoops are desperate for a victory, after their 2-1 Boxing Day defeat at home to West Brom. The defeat meant that Harry Redknapp’s side dropped to the bottom of the Premier League table.

Liverpool’s recent decent run of form came to an end on Boxing Day with a 3-1 defeat at Stoke. The Reds have been inconsistent this season and could be without star striker Luis Suarez at Loftus Road. The Uruguayan picked-up an ankle knock, which leaves him doubtful for this clash.

Who will be fourth in the Premier League at the end of the weekend?

Fri 28 December, 2012
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