Premier League preview - Week 17
Published: 13.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
Key battles, players to watch and talking points, check out our preview of the Premier League action this week!
Newcastle v Man City
Key Battle: The champions lost their first game of the season last week and will look to Sergio Aguero to reignite their challenge against a Newcastle backline led by Fabricio Coloccini
Player to Watch: Hatem ben Arfa struck in Newcastle’s last game and he is the most likely player to pierce the City defence.
Talking Point: Neither of these sides have hit the heights of last year yet – so which way will this one go?
Liverpool v Aston Villa
Key Battle: Matt Lowton has been a revelation in central defence for Villa, and will be tasked with keeping quiet Luis Suarez
Player to Watch: Raheem Sterling continues to excel for the Reds and he can cause all kinds of problems to Villa.
Talking Point: Liverpool are clawing their way into top four contention and the visit of Villa is a perfect chance to register another crucial win.
Man Utd v Sunderland
Key Battle: John O’Shea takes on his old team tasked with keeping quiet the mercurial talent of Robin van Persie
Player to Watch: Wayne Rooney has been effective behind van Persie this year and he has to be watched closely by the Sunderland defence
Talking Point: Save for the win over Reading in the week, Sunderland have been poor all season and have a tough job on avoiding another heavy defeat
Norwich v Wigan
Key Battle: James McCarthy against Alex Tettey in central midfield will be an intriguing battle, and who comes out on top will be pivotal to deciding which side wins this game.
Player to Watch: Bakary Kone has been superb for Wigan of late and can really hurt Norwich if they get chances
Talking Point: Norwich are in superb form and have not lost since September, whilst Wigan continue to tick along just above the danger zone
QPR v Fulham
Key Battle: Brede Hangeland will be kept on his toes by the running of Jamie Mackie, whose technical skill will be a handful for the visitors.
Player to Watch: Dimitar Berbatov has been key to much of Fulham’s best play and if he gets the chance to dominate the game Fulham will win.
Talking Point: QPR are still yet to win, but Fulham’s away record is not great. Will they come back from the short trip across west London with anything?
Stoke v Everton
Key Battle: Ryan Shawcross is key for Stoke, a battering ram and generally uncompromising defender, but he will be up against NIkica Jelavic, who is a difficult forward to handle.
Player to Watch: Steven Pienaar is coming back to form and he can be a real thorn in Stoke’s side in this game.
Talking Point: Everton are a team who can match Stoke’s physicality, but unlike the home side, the Merseyside outfit have no little skill either
Tottenham v Swansea
Key Battle: Gylfi Sigurdsson takes on his former team for the first time, but can he get the better of Michu in the central midfield battle?
Player to Watch: Jermain Defoe has been in lethal form this season and he can pierce the Swansea rearguard.
Talking Point: Swansea have already won in this part of London once this season and will be confident they can do it again.
West Brom v West Ham
Key Battle: Claudio Yacob has been a pivotal player for West Brom and will not come up against Mo Diame, but Kevin Nolan in the central midfield tussle.
Player to Watch: Shane Long’s running will cause no end of problems for the visitors.
Talking Point: A well organised West Brom can be a real handful for this West Ham team, as usual well drilled by Sam Allardyce
Reading v Arsenal
Key Battle: Can Adam leFondre hurt the Arsenal rearguard? Thomas Vermaelen will be kept on his toes throughout this one.
Player to Watch: Santi Cazorla has been playing better after looking fatigued a couple of weeks ago, and he will be vital.
Talking Point: These sides have already played out a 12 goal thriller in the cup this season, but Arsenal are desperate for another vital three points.