Premier League preview - Week 15
Published: 09.12.11 / Written by: David Gold
Key battles, players to watch and talking points, check out our preview of the Premier League action this weekend!
Arsenal v Everton
Key Battle: Aaron Ramsey has been crucial for Arsenal this year, with his passing at the heart of some of their best play. He will be up against the tenacious Marouane Fellaini.
Player to Watch: Mikel Arteta comes up against his former club, and it will be intriguing to see how he copes with taking on a team he served with distinction.
Talking Point: Can Arsenal continue their impressive form, or will Everton spring a shock?
Bolton v Aston Villa
Key Battle: Bolton have done best when Ivan Klasnic scores, and he will look to get the better of Richard Dunne this weekend.
Player to Watch: Chris Eagles has been an impressive performer in a poor season for Bolton so far.
Talking Point: Bolton have endured a nightmare campaign; Aston Villa could be the ideal opposition for them, will they take advantage?
Liverpool v QPR
Key Battle: Luis Suarez has struggled for goals against some of the smaller teams in the league and he will be up against the big Anton Ferdinand this weekend.
Player to Watch: Width has been Liverpool’s problem at home to smaller teams, so Stewart Downing’s ability to stretch the play may be pivotal.
Talking Point: Having drawn against Swansea and Norwich at home, can Liverpool avoid dropping points at home to all three promoted teams?
Man Utd v Wolves
Key Battle: Nani has been important for United when they have needed someone to create something from nothing, and they may need that this weekend; can he carve open a defence marshalled by Roger Johnson?
Player to Watch: Wayne Rooney has not been in the best form of his life – can he deliver some respite for his manager this weekend?
Talking Point: Man Utd have endured one of their worst weeks in years, but they could surely not have picked many easier opponents to take it out on, could they?
Norwich v Newcastle
Key Battle: Grant Holt has been useful for Norwich, helping them score crucial goals this year, and he will be up against a Newcastle without Steven Taylor, but with Fabricio Coloccini.
Player to Watch: Anthony Pilkington has been a superb creative force for Norwich so far this season – can he show it again at the weekend?
Talking Point: A tricky test for a Newcastle team in danger of losing touch with the top four. How will they cope without Steven Taylor?
Swansea v Fulham
Key Battle: A Fulham shorn of Danny Murphy will look to Clint Dempsey to prise open a Swansea defence which is well organised and led by Ashley Williams
Player to Watch: Leon Britton has been superb this year, an unsung hero whose passing has been almost perfect.
Talking Point: Ironically for two teams committed to passing and attack, they have both had superb defences this season. Will they come out on top?
West Brom v Wigan
Key Battle: Chris Brunt is at the heart of much of West Brom’s best play, and he will be against Mo Diame for Wigan this weekend.
Player to Watch: Shane Long has been West Brom’s key forward so far this campaign with Peter Odemwingie blighted by injury.
Talking Point: Wigan are in need of points to clamber away from the relegation zone, whilst West Brom are looking to build some form.
Sunderland v Blackburn
Key Battle: Nicklas Bendtner looks Sunderland’s main goal threat, which is a worry in itself, and he will need to get the better of Chris Samba.
Player to Watch: Seb Larsson has been Sunderland’s player of the season and his ability could be key to the home team scoring.
Talking Point: What impact will supposed miracle worker Martin O’Neill have on a poor Sunderland side?
Stoke v Tottenham
Key Battle: Stoke rely as ever on the least attractive of virtues; long throws and brute force. This is epitomised by Ryan Shawcross, but he will be up against Emmanuel Adebayor, whose physique and technique could be too much.
Player to Watch: Luka Modric is blessed with tenacity and skill in no short measure; a combination which has led many a Stoke player to commit reckless dangerous fouls, and he will have to hurdle those challenges on Sunday.
Talking Point: A Stoke side punching well well above their weight will have a tough job against in form Spurs. Who will come out on top?
Chelsea v Man City
Key Battle: Oriel Romeu has been vital for Chelsea in their last two games as their form has recovered. But David Silva will be a difficult opponent. Who wins this battle will be vital.
Player to Watch: Juan Mata has been Chelsea’s player of the season arguably, and his ability to carve open a sometimes porous City defence could be crucial
Talking Point: Man City were outplayed by Liverpool in their last away game – how will they cope against a resurgent Chelsea?