Friday, 24 February 2012

The Weekend's EPL Fixture Previews:

The Weekend's EPL Fixture Previews:
Hello and welcome to Round 26 of this season's EPL.
We have nine tasty and interesting matches over the weekend including the North London derbies between Arsenal vs Tottenham and QPR vs Fulham.

Tomorrow (15:00 unless stated):

Chelsea vs Bolton Wanderers:

This match will be played at Stamford Bridge as 5th placed Chelsea host 19th placed Bolton.
Chelsea will be without captain John Terry for Saturday's game against Bolton after he was ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.
Ashley Cole is likely to return at left-back after being left out of the starting XI against Napoli and Fernando Torres is expected to be available despite missing training during midweek due to illness.
Midfielder Juan Mata is ready despite suffering a suspected broken finger on Tuesday in Italy but full-back Jose Bosingwa is out after suffering a muscle injury.

Bolton midfielder Mark Davies is expected to be fit after a hamstring problem.
New striker Marvin Sordell is eligible for selection again after being cup-tied for last weekend's FA Cup fifth-round victory over Millwall.
Defender Joe Riley is a doubt due to a foot injury and forward Kevin Davies, who sustained medial ligament damage in his knee in early February, is unlikely to be ready to make his return to action yet.
Chelsea will hope to end their current poor form of late against a side who they thrashed 6-0 in the last meeting.

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has scored 11 goals this season for The Blues - joint highest goalscorer along with Daniel Sturridge...

Newcastle United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers:

This match will be held at The Sports Direct Arena as 6th placed Newcastle host 18th placed Wolves in a surprising mismatch (especially this season).
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will welcome back key midfield duo Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye for tomorrow's clash with Wolves.
Tiote has missed Newcastle's last seven games because of his involvement in the ACON with Ivory Coast, while Cabaye has now completed his three-match ban.
Full-back Ryan Taylor is also available after missing the 5-0 defeat against Spurs with an ankle injury, but Leon Best and Sammy Ameobi (both knee), Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) remain on the sidelines.

Wolves midfielder Karl Henry is available after a three-match suspension for his silly red card against Aston Villa.
Winger Michael Kightly is also back in contention after suffering a back injury against Villa in January.
Top scorer Steven Fletcher was unable to train earlier this week because of a virus and migraine but caretaker boss Terry Connor is optimistic he will be fit.
He will be managing his first match for Wolves in this season.

Stephen Fletcher: Scored 10 goals for Wolves this season. Top scorer.

FACT: Wolves have not kept a clean sheet in the last twenty two EPL matches.

QPR vs Fulham:

This match will come from Loftus Road as London clubs QPR and Fulham go head-to-head.
Midfielder Samba Diakite who joined from Nancy (on loan until the end of the season) is in line to make his QPR debut.
Striker Bobby Zamora faces his old club after moving to Rangers for a sum of £8million in the January transfer window but fellow striker Djibril Cisse is suspended, while Heidar Helguson (groin), DJ Campbell and Luke Young (both hamstring) are still injured.
31-year-old forward Andrew Johnson will return to the Fulham squad after being out for several weeks with a left adductor injury.
Fellow strikers Pavel Pogrebnyak and Orlando Sa are also available, while defender Philippe Senderos returns after a grade two strain in his left adductor. Zdenek Grygera (knee) and Steve Sidwell (hernia) are the only first-team players unavailable.

This match will have a frosty atmosphere with former players facing each other and tempers flaring, Fulham will hope to win again (like they did in October 6-0) but it will not be straight forward against a rejuvenated QPR side who were busy during last month's TW.

Striker Bobby Zamora has scored for his new club QPR, and faces his old club Fulham tomorrow....

West Bromwich Albion vs Sunderland:

This match will be played at The Hawthorns as 14th placed West Brom host an in-form Sunderland side who have been influenced by the arrival of manager Martin O'Neil who replaced Steve Bruce who was sacked earlier in the season.
West Brom midfielder Keith Andrews is in strong contention to make his full debut in Saturday's home Barclays Premier League clash with Sunderland.
Albion's transfer deadline signing from Blackburn is favourite to replace the injured Paul Scharner (rib) after impressing as a substitute and scoring during the 5-1 win over his former club Wolves.
Skipper Chris Brunt (ankle) is close to fitness but fellow midfielder Zoltan Gera (knee) remains a long-term absentee as the Baggies search for their first home win since November.
Nicklas Bendtner could return to the Sunderland after recovering from a facial fracture.
The striker has returned to training wearing a protective mask, although was ineligible to play against parent club Arsenal in the FA Cup last weekend, as were fellow loan signings Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
Midfielder David Vaughan is back in training after an ankle problem, but the match is too soon for him, and only defenders Wes Brown (knee) and Titus Bramble (Achilles/calf) remain on the long-term casualty list.

FACT: Manager Martin O'Neill has only lost three matches in charge of Sunderland since the 10th of December 2011.
Staggering feat, without buying any players, Steve Bruce was messing about then!

Martin O'Neill: The epicenter of Sunderland's success this season.

Wigan Athletic vs Aston Villa:

This match will be played at the DW Stadium as Wigan host Aston Villa.
Aston Villa welcome striker Gabriel Agbonlahor back after he had back and hamstring problems which meant that he has missed Villa's last three matches.
Chris Herd could also be involved after coming through an hour in a reserve match unscathed. The midfielder has been out for around two and a half months with ankle ligament damage.
McLeish said he had a few other players with minor injuries who may not recover, but declined to name individuals.
Defender Richard Dunne (shoulder) and Ciaran Clark (knee) are both long-term casualties.
Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has a fully-fit squad.
Striker Callum McManaman has recovered from a back problem while a number of players were able to overcome colds and viruses during the club's recent trip to Oman.
Midfielder Mohamed Diame may be set for his first appearance since returning from ACON duty.

Manchester City vs Blackburn Rovers: LIVE at 17:30pm
1st placed Manchester City host lowly Blackburn at The Ethiad Stadium in a big mismatch with the two teams at two different ends of the EPL table.

Manchester City defender Micah Richards (knee) is fit for tomorrow's fixture against 17th placed Blackburn.
Richards required lengthy treatment during Wednesday's 4-0 Europa League win over Porto but completed the game while midfielder Gareth Barry, who was withdrawn to protect a muscle twinge, does not have a serious problem.
Defender Kolo Toure, midfielder Yaya Toure (both international duty at the African Cup Of Nations) and striker Mario Balotelli (suspension) return to domestic action after lengthy absences. Striker Carlos Tevez, now back in training, is not yet match-fit.
Blackburn midfielder David Dunn is a doubt due to a thigh injury.
Winger Junior Hoilett is fit, while defender Jason Lowe begins a two-match ban having picked up his 10th booking of the season against QPR and fellow defender Gael Givet is still suspended also.
Centre-back Christopher Samba, who has not played since January 2 and last month handed in a transfer request, appears poised to leave Rovers to join Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala. 

Manchester City should and probably will thrash Blackburn who lack flair in every part of the pitch apart from the wing - where Holiett will be given a rough time against the likes of Richards and Kompany....

Striker Sergio Aguero has scored 20 goals for Manchester City this season - third highest goalscorer in the EPL.

Sunday (13:30 unless stated):

Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur:

This tasty North London fixture at The Emirates on Sunday is my featured match between 4th placed Arsenal and 3rd placed Tottenham.
Tottenham forwards Emmanuel Adebayor (knee) and Rafael van der Vaart (calf) have trained this week and are expected to be fit for Sunday's north London derby at Arsenal.
Full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto (groin) and midfielder Luka Modric (illness) missed last week's FA Cup game but should also be available to play at the Emirates.
Defender Ledley King (knee) faces a late fitness test, midfielder Sandro is a major doubt due to a calf injury, and William Gallas (calf) and Tom Huddlestone (ankle) are long-term absentees.
Arsenal defenders Laurent Koscielny (knee) and Kieran Gibbs (groin) face fitness tests ahead of the game.
Midfielder Aaron Ramsey (ankle), defender Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and centre-half Sebastien Squillaci (groin) are all sidelined.
Defender Carl Jenkinson recovered from a back problem and played for the reserves in midweek, but centre-back Per Mertesacker (ankle) is a long-term absentee, along with full-back Andre Santos (ankle), midfielders Abou Diaby (hamstring) and Jack Wilshere (ankle).

Striker Emmanuel Adebayor faces his old club away from home along with some interesting comments made by player from both teams so it has the making of a hostile atmosphere.
Tottenham feel they are the best team in London, and beat Arsenal 2-1 in their last meeting so The Gunners will be looking for revenge at home but they may struggle against an in-form Spurs side.

Robin Van Persie vs Gareth Bale:
Over £80million worth of Talent..... 

Tottenham midfielder Gareth Bale has scored 11 goals this season. 2nd highest midfield goalscorer in the EPL.

Robin Van Persie: 28 goals in all competitions this season..... highest goalscorer in the EPL.

Tottenham have won three of the last four meetings against rivals Arsenal....

Norwich City vs Manchester United:

Defender Rio Ferdinand will return to the Manchester United squad for Sunday's trip to Norwich.
Ferdinand was rested for yesterday's Europa League match against Ajax but manager Sir Alex Ferguson will look to the 33-year-old to bring some stability to a back four that struggled badly at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney (throat) is a doubt, whilst there is also speculation Tom Cleverley has suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury.
Defender Zak Whitbread could return to the Norwich first-team as he recovered from a hamstring injury, but his fellow defender Daniel Ayala continues to miss out.
Marc Tierney (groin) and Jonny Howson (knee) are both on the comeback trail, but Sunday's match will be too soon for them.
FACT: Manchester United have won 8 out of last 13 EPL away matches, and have kept the most clean sheets (12)

Stoke City vs Swansea City: LIVE at 15:00pm

Stoke boss Tony Pulis will make a significant amount of changes from the side knocked out of Europe last night for Sunday's clash against 11th placed Swansea. The Potters boss left nine first-team players at home for the 1-0 defeat by Valencia, including the likes of Peter Crouch, Jon Walters and Matthew Etherington, and all are likely to come in as Stoke look to arrest a run of four straight league defeats.
Centre-back Robert Huth serves the final match of a three-game ban but midfielder Rory Delap is available after having his red card against Crawley overturned last week, while Pulis could give Asmir Begovic a start in goal ahead of Thomas Sorensen.
Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers has a near full-strength squad to pick from.
Midfielder Joe Allen has returned to full fitness after missing their last match against Norwich.
However, Kemy Agustien looks set to miss out after he picked up a knock in training and fellow midfielder Andrea Orlandi (hamstring) is also a doubt.
Right-back Curtis Obeng could be in line for his debut following his recent arrival from Wrexham.
Either side could move up to 9th place with a win (provided results go their way), with Stoke having the advantage resting their first-team players yesterday against Valencia.


 Carling Cup Final:
7th placed Liverpool face Championship club Cardiff City in a mismatch at Wembley.
Luis Suarez will be hoping to prove a danger against Cardiff aswell as Craig Bellamy who will be played against his hometown.

Cardiff City vs Liverpool: LIVE at 16:00pm

The Bluebirds hope to become the first Welsh side to win the Carling Cup against a Liverpool squad who have not won a trophy in 6 years since they won the League cup in 2006.
FACT: Cardiff have beaten Liverpool 5 out of the last 6 times.....
Interesting fact....


Zenit St. Petersburg have confirmed the signing of Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin on a loan until the end of the season.
Bye! You will be more effective in Russia (hopefully it will be permanent in the Summer)

Blackburn Rovers have confirmed the departure of defender Christopher Samba to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £7million.

Their defence is sure to crumble now, if it had not already before.... now that their star player has left, many more will probably follow and leave.

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