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Premier League preview: December 1st 2012

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill is in desperate need of a victory at Norwich on Sunday

This weekend’s Premier League programme kicks-off at the Boleyn Ground, where West Ham host Chelsea.

The visitors have drawn their first two games 0-0 under new boss Rafa Benitez and have been poor.

The Blues are now seven points behind league leaders Manchester United and are in desperate of some inspiration.

The arrival of Benitez has yet to bring the best out of their expensively assembled squad.

The home side have enjoyed a good season so far, but are currently in the midst of a difficult run of games. Sam Allardyce’s men lost 1-0 at Manchester United last time out. The Irons have dropped into tenth place after consecutive defeats.

League leaders Manchester United visit Reading in the evening kick-off. United’s victory against West Ham kept the Red Devils a point clear at the top of the Premier League table. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be encouraged by his side keeping a clean sheet against West Ham and will expect maximum points in Berkshire.

Reading are currently second from bottom in the Premier League table, after being defeated 1-0 at relegation rivals Aston villa on Tuesday night. The Royals are now four points away from safety and will be hoping to claim some unlikely points against United.

Manchester City will be looking to retake top spot in the Premier League from arch-rivals United, as the champions host Everton. A victory against David Moyes’ side could put them temporarily top of the league. City are unbeaten at the Etihad Stadium since December 2010.

However, the last team to inflict a home defeat on Roberto Mancini’s men were Everton and they have a decent recent record at City. Despite making a lightning start to the season Everton’s form has drifted off in recent weeks.

The Toffees have won one, lost one and drew six of their last eight top flight encounters, but in Marouane Fellaini they have one of the stars of the top flight campaign so far.

West Brom host Stoke at the Hawthorns looking to bounce back from a 3-1 defeat to Swansea last time out. The Baggies are still fourth in the Premier League, despite that defeat and will be looking to get back to winning ways in this encounter.

Stoke have hit form in recent weeks and defeated Newcastle 2-1 midweek at the Britannia Stadium. The victory moved the Potters into ninth place and Tony Pulis’ side are currently on a four match unbeaten run.

At Loftus Road there is a big game at the bottom of the table as rock-bottom QPR hosts Aston Villa. The Hoops drew 0-0 at Sunderland in Harry Redknapp’s first outing as boss. The former-Tottenham boss will have taken encouragement from his team’s performance though.

Redknapp’s side are currently eight points behind Aston Villa, who are 17th in the league table, so it’s vital they record a victory over the Villans. Villa claimed a morale-boosting 1-0- victory over Reading in their last outing, but are just one point outside the drop zone.

The side immediately below Villa are Southampton, who visit Liverpool. Liverpool’s unbeaten run of eight games came to an end with a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane on Wednesday night.

However their performance gave boss Brendan Rodgers cause for optimism and the Reds will see this as an ideal opportunity to bounce back from that loss.

The visitors are currently on a three match unbeaten run, drawing 1-1 at home with Norwich on Wednesday night. Although the Saints have picked up just one away win this season in the top flight.

Elsewhere, Fulham host Tottenham at Craven Cottage. The Cottagers are currently going through a spell of no victories in the last six matches, although they drew 0-0 at Chelsea last time out.

Tottenham have claimed victories in their last two Premier League outings, with a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday the latest. The victory moved Spurs up to fifth place in the table, just three points away from fourth spot and the Champions League places.

Former-Fulham stars Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembele will be in-line to face their former-club for the first since their summer moves to White Hart Lane.

Arsenal host Swansea at the Emirates Stadium looking to get back to winning ways after draws at Aston Villa and Everton. Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has come in for criticism in the last few weeks for some of his substitutions and the Gunners are now five points behind fourth place West Brom.

Swansea are just one place behind the Gunners after defeating in-form West Brom 3-1 at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night. A victory could move the Swans into the top six and they will again be looking to bargain buy Michu to inspire maximum points.

On Sunday, Norwich host Sunderland at Carrow Road. The home side are on a seven match unbeaten run, after drawing 1-1 at Southampton in their last outing, but are just four points clear of the relegation zone. Boss Chris Hughton will be hoping for maximum points to move the Canaries clear of the drop zone.

The visitors are struggling badly this season and have picked up just two victories in the top flight. Boss Martin O’Neill had to deny that he offered his resignation after the midweek 0-0 draw with QPR and his team desperately need a victory in East Anglia.

Can Martin O’Neill survive the weekend as Sunderland boss?

Fri 30 November, 2012
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