Premier League preview - Week 21
Published: 31.12.12 / Written by: David Gold
Key battles, players to watch and talking points, check out our preview of the Premier League action this week!
West Brom v Fulham
Key Battle: Shane Long can cause no end of problems for Fulham and Brede Hangeland in particular with his constant running.
Player to Watch: Claudio Yacob has been an unsung hero of the season so far and can be a real nuisance for Fulham to deal with.
Talking Point: Fulham’s form has tailed off without Bryan Ruiz and now they are attempting to revive their season.
Man City v Stoke
Key Battle: City need Yaya Toure to be at his best to break down the aggressive barrier in midfield for Stoke, manned by Dean Whitehead.
Player to Watch: Carlos Tevez’s constant running and energy could be pivotal to this particular clash.
Talking Point: City are in need of points to get themselves back into the title race and fast. Can they do so against a stubborn Stoke?
Swansea v Aston Villa
Key Battle: If Michu is not fit, Danny Graham could become particularly important for the Swans, and he will be up against a Villa defence which has been leaky of late. If Matt Lowton is not at his best it could be an easy win for the hosts.
Player to Watch: Christian Benteke has been an impressive performer for Villa so far this year and they will look to him to provide some cutting edge going forward.
Talking Point: Can Swansea continue their impressive season? Villa are in need of points to stay clear of the relegation scrap.
Tottenham v Reading
Key Battle: With Gareth Bale absent, Aaron Lennon will be key and can cause all kinds of problems for the visitors, who may struggle to handle him. The Reading back line will need to be at its best.
Player to Watch: Jermain Defoe’s movement will likely cause Reading serious problems as they try to contain the Spurs attack.
Talking Point: Reading are looking increasingly likely to be relegated this season and will hope to salvage something from White Hart Lane, but it will be tough. They are looking more solid however.
West Ham v Norwich
Key Battle: Winston Reid’s ability to stop Grant Holt from influencing the match could be a key part of this particular battle.
Player to Watch: Kevin Nolan has struggled to impose himself of late for West Ham and they will hope he can rediscover his goalscoring touch.
Talking Point: Two well organised and drilled sides, neither of whom are desperate for three points, may lead to a predictable stalemate.
Wigan v Man Utd
Key Battle: Jean Beausejour is a key threat for Wigan on the left, but he will have to do a lot of running to contain ex Wigan man Antonio Valencia.
Player to Watch: Man Utd lost here last year as Shaun Maloney struck a superb winner for Wigan, and they will have to watch him carefully.
Talking Point: Wigan won this match last year and have already been unlucky in defeat at home to Man City and Arsenal this season. Potential for another shock?
Southampton v Arsenal
Key Battle: Saints must hope that they can contain Arsenal’s midfield, so it will be interesting to see which playmaker has more impact on this game, Gaston Ramirez or Santi Cazorla?
Player to Watch: Jack Wilshere is approaching something like his best form for Arsenal and he can cause major problems for the Saints.
Talking Point: Arsenal won this game 6-1 at the Emirates Stadium. Southampton have improved since and Arsenal have had their problems.
Chelsea v QPR
Key Battle: Local bragging rights are up for grabs, so much will depend on Stephane Mbia’s ability to shackle Eden Hazard.
Player to Watch: Juan Mata is Chelsea’s best player at present and QPR will have to work hard to prevent him influencing the game.
Talking Point: QPR are in desperate need of points whilst Chelsea are just beginning to click under Rafa Benitez
Liverpool v Sunderland
Key Battle: Steven Fletcher will be hoping to run Daniel Agger ragged and enable Sunderland to come away from Anfield with something.
Player to Watch: Luis Suarez is Liverpool’s key man and his ability to influence the game will be critical for Liverpool
Talking Point: Liverpool had a dire home record in 2012 – can that improve at all at the start of 2012?
Newcastle v Everton
Key Battle: Papiss Cisse will hope to get the better of Phil Jagielka and enable Newcastle to get a crucial win as 2013 begins.
Player to Watch: Nikica Jelavic can take advantage of the chances that come his way if Newcastle’s defence don’t pay attention to his runs.
Talking point: Everton are battling for the top four whilst Newcastle are trying to climb towards mid table. A win here would be a big statement for the visitors.