Premier League preview - Week 22
Published: 12.01.13 / Written by: David Gold
Key battles, players to watch and talking points, check out our preview of the Premier League action this week!
QPR v Tottenham
Key Battle: The key battle in this encounter could be off the field, as former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp comes up against his successor, Andre Villas Boas.
Player to Watch: Adel Taraabt is another Tottenham old boy, and he is the one in the QPR side who can create something out of nothing against the North Londoners.
Talking Point: QPR will be buoyed by victory over Chelsea in their last encounter, and at home to Spurs will hope they can continue that remarkable form.
Aston Villa v Southampton
Key Battle: These are two sides relatively reliant on strong centre forwards; Christian Benteke for Villa and Rickie Lambert for the Saints.
Player to Watch: Jason Puncheon is a smart and fast player whose energy and skill from midfield has been important for Southampton.
Talking Point: Villa are in poor form and coming off the back of a shock defeat to Bradford, so can Southampton complete the double over the Midlanders?
Everton v Swansea
Key Battle: If Michu can be kept quiet by Phil Jagielka, then Everton can get one over on the free flowing Swans
Player to Watch: Marouane Fellaini is recently back from suspension, and his influence is critical to the Toffees.
Talking Point: Swansea come here off the back of a huge win at Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, and with an FA Cup replay at Arsenal to come will tiredness catch up with them?
Fulham v Wigan
Key Battle: An interesting midfield battle will be on here between James McCarthy, the highly rated Wigan man, and Steve Sidwell, the physical presence in the Fulham centre.
Player to Watch: Bryan Ruiz has been Fulham’s unsung hero of the season, and his recent return from injury has been important.
Talking Point: Wigan are looking for points to climb to safety but Fulham are looking like they are getting back to their best again.
Norwich v Newcastle
Key Battle: Sebastien Bassong has been one of the stars of the season so far for Norwich, and he will have a big job on his hands nullifying Papiss Cisse.
Player to Watch: Sylvain Marveaux has impressed in the absence of Hatem ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye – it will be important for him to play well again here if Newcastle are to take anything.
Talking Point: Chris Hughton is another manager taking on a former side this weekend, and his successor Alan Pardew will hope to end a poor run of form at Carrow Road.
Reading v West Brom
Key Battle: Shane Long will hope to rediscover some of his early season form but Adrian Mariappa can stop him if he plays well here.
Player to Watch: Pavel Pobrebnyak has started scoring of late and Reading will hope to provide him with the service to put the Baggies to the sword.
Talking Point: Reading desperately need points whilst West Brom are struggling to rediscover their early season promise.
Stoke City v Chelsea
Key Battle: It will be interesting to see whether Rafa Benitez picks the more physical Demba Ba for the challenge of Stoke, and if he can get the better of Ryan Shawcross Chelsea could have a chance.
Player to Watch: Eden Hazard has not shown what he is capable of since the opening weeks of the season, and the physical Stoke will be a big challenge for the Belgian.
Talking Point: Chelsea’s nimble midfielders will face a tricky challenge at the physical Stoke, who play the kind of football Benitez hates, given that it messes with his tactical scheming.
Sunderland v West Ham
Key Battle: West Ham have not been great of late, so will hope Winston Reid can keep the prolific Steven Fletcher quiet.
Player to Watch: The Black Cats will look to Adam Johnson to provide them with a creative spark against the Hammers.
Talking Point: Two teams who are more functional than flair, Sunderland can take another big step to safety in this one.
Manchester United v Liverpool
Key Battle: The Premier League’s two most prolific strikers come face to face as Luis Suarez takes on Robin van Persie.
Player to Watch: Raheem Sterling was the subject of interest from Man Utd earlier in the season – will the Liverpool youngster make them pay here?
Talking Point: Liverpool outplayed United at Anfield earlier in the season – can they do the same at Old Trafford and take their chances this time?
Arsenal v Man City
Key Battle: Mikel Arteta ran the show in this game last year, and with Yaya Toure absent, he will be important to nullifying David Silva.
Player to Watch: With Toure and Sergio Aguero both out, Carlos Tevez will be critical to City’s hopes of finding the net.
Talking point: This is a game which traditionally features few goals, and it is hard to see where they will come from on Sunday