Premier League preview - Week 18
Published: 22.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
Key battles, players to watch and talking points, check out our preview of the Premier League action this week!
Wigan v Arsenal
Key Battle: James McCarthy is key to Wigan’s play and the battle between him and Santi Cazorla to dictate the game will be intriguing.
Player to Watch: Theo Walcott got to play as a centre forward on Monday against Reading and he will hope to continue his good form here.
Talking Point: Wigan are struggling to get points on the board whilst Arsenal continue to be sluggish, although their away form is promising.
Man City v Reading
Key Battle: Hal Robson Kanu will have his work cut out to keep Man City and David Silva in particular quiet in this game.
Player to Watch: Sergio Aguero has been quiet in recent weeks but goals are surely not far away for the Argentine.
Talking Point: Having been thrashed by Arsenal at home, surely Reading are set for a hiding at City?
Newcastle v QPR
Key Battle: Demba Ba will be looking to put QPR to the sword and continue his goalscoring form, so Ryan Nelsen needs to be alert to his threat.
Player to Watch: Adel Taraabt inspired QPR to a first win of the season last weekend and he will be the key danger here.
Talking Point: After a run of home defeats which has left them worryingly close to the relegation zone, Newcastle must find some form and quickly to get out of trouble.
Southampton v Sunderland
Key Battle: Rickie Lambert can take advantage of Sunderland’s defensive problems and win the battle of the forwards with Steve Fletcher.
Player to Watch: Jason Puncheon has been one of the stars of Southampton’s resurgence in the last month.
Talking Point: Two teams battling relegation, which will gain the upper hand, if either, in this crucial encounter?
Tottenham v Stoke
Key Battle: Ryan Shawcross, fresh from last week’s controversy, will look to use his physicality once again, this time to stifle Jermain Defoe.
Player to Watch: Emmanuel Adebayor has the combination of physique and technique that could do for a team like Stoke.
Talking Point: Tottenham are in good form and look the best placed to finish third on current form – will that continue here?
West Brom v Norwich
Key Battle: Sebastien Bassong has been in superb form for Norwich and he is tasked with keeping quiet Shane Long, the energetic and skilful West Brom forward.
Player to Watch: Wes Hoolahan has impressed for Norwich of late and can be their big threat in this game.
Talking Point: West Brom were the surprise team of the opening weeks of the season, and Norwich the winter surprise and are on a long unbeaten run. Which way will this game go?
West Ham v Everton
Key Battle: Without Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar will hope to dominate in midfield, where he will have to battle against Matt Taylor.
Player to Watch: Nikica Jelavic is the Everton goal threat and West Ham will have to keep a close eye on his runs.
Talking Point: Everton are looking to get some wins under their belt after a string of draws, whilst West Ham are doing well so far this season.
Liverpool v Fulham
Key Battle: Luis Suarez will look to get back on the goalscoring sheet when he faces Fulham, but Brede Hangeland is a tough competitor who will give him a difficult afternoon.
Player to Watch: Raheem Sterling has been the surprise star of Liverpool’s season and he can carve open Fulham if he gets space.
Talking Point: Fulham have not been the same since Bryan Ruiz got injured, but can they get anything from Anfield?
Swansea v Man Utd
Key Battle: Ashley Williams must find a way to keep Robin van Persie quiet if Swansea’s passing game is to help them get anything from this game.
Player to Watch: Michu is one of the stars of the season and United will have to work hard to stop him finding space
Talking Point: United have looked convincing all season but have come unstuck at times, if they go behind here Swansea have the passing ability to keep the ball off them for long periods
Chelsea v Aston Villa
Key Battle: Fernando Torres will hope to get back to scoring ways after his poor display against Corinthians, but will face Ciaran Clark, a surprise star of the season so far for Villa
Player to Watch: Eden Hazard impressed against Leeds in midweek and could be the key figure for Chelsea in this game.
Talking Point: Villa enjoyed a brilliant performance against Liverpool last week and will hope to replicate that at Stamford Bridge, where they picked up three points last season.