Premier League preview - Week 26
Published: 08.02.13 / Written by: David Gold
Key battles, players to watch and talking points, check out our preview of the Premier League action this week!
Tottenham v Newcastle
Key Battle: Gareth Bale is Tottenham’s danger man and he has rescued them in their last two games with sublime long range strikes. It will be interesting to see him up against the attacking Mathieu Debuchy, who must get back quickly to prevent the Welshman’s forays forward.
Player to Watch: Moussa Sissoko has made a blistering start to life with Newcastle and he will be the man Tottenham must keep a close eye on.
Talking Point: Tottenham will take the game to Newcastle but Alan Pardew’s side are set up to soak up pressure and counter attack, which could give them a shock win.
Chelsea v Wigan
Key Battle: Chelsea will hope Juan Mata can continue his impressive form up against James McCarthy in the Wigan midfield.
Player to Watch: Oscar’s quick feet and Brazilian magic can win a game for Chelsea, and they will hope he shines against Wigan.
Talking Point: Rafa Benitez’s job could be on the line if Chelsea do not beat Wigan, in what is a huge game for his side.
Norwich v Fulham
Key Battle: Bryan Ruiz is Fulham’s most creative outlet going forward and he will do well to escape the attentions of Alex Tettey.
Player to Watch: Dimitar Berbatov is the man who can make something out of nothing for Fulham, so the hosts need to play close attention to the Bulgarian
Talking Point: Norwich need points to avoid being dragged into the relegation dogfight, but Fulham too are looking to get their form back on track after a tricky spell
Stoke v Reading
Key Battle: Hope Akpan has quickly become Reading’s main creative hope, but he must first get some space against the imposing Stoke midfield and Glenn Whelan in particular.
Player to Watch: Adam le Fondre has been scoring for fun of late for Reading, can he continue that superb form?
Talking Point: Stoke’s season seems to be going nowhere, whilst for Reading points are vital as they look to claw themselves away to safety.
Sunderland v Arsenal
Key Battle: Jack Wilshere was brilliant for England against Brazil in the week but faces a very different challenge here – the livewire Lee Cattermole, the classic ankle snapper.
Player to Watch: Olivier Giroud has been in good form of late and his height and physicality could be crucial against a turgid and dour Sunderland.
Talking Point: It was a win away to Sunderland at this point of last season which spurred a superb run of form for Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger will hope the same thing can happen again.
Swansea v QPR
Key Battle: Michu is the obvious danger for Swansea, and it will be interesting to see whether Christopher Samba has the answer to the Spaniard’s predatory instinct.
Player to Watch: Jonathan de Guzman has been arguably the second most important player for Swansea this season and he can cause real problems for the visitors.
Talking Point: Swansea are enjoying a serene season whilst QPR desperately need the points to clamber towards safety.
Southampton v Manchester City
Key Battle: Southampton have used Rickie Lambert very effectively this season, and against a weakened City defence led by Mateja Nastasic, he could have some joy.
Player to Watch: David Silva is the man who makes things tick when City are paying well. He has struggled to do that for long periods of last season and this though.
Talking Point: These two teams both like to push their opponents high up the pitch and pressure them. Southampton did very well against City earlier in the season, and could stun the visitors here.
Aston Villa v West Ham
Key Battle: Christian Benteke faces an opponent who is similarly physical to him this weekend in Winston Reid, and if he can get the better of their battle Villa can win.
Player to Watch: Gabriel Agbonlahor is one of the more experienced faces in this Villa team and he will be vital for them.
Talking Point: In the battle of the claret and blues, it is Villa who desperately need the three points. This is the kind of game they simply must win to stay up.
Man Utd v Everton
Key Battle: Wayne Rooney has been in great form, and former United man Phil Neville could have an important role to play here to keep him quiet.
Player to Watch: Antonio Valencia’s marauding runs down the right can hurt Everton if they do not track him well.
Talking Point: Everton are a tough opponent, and this was the game that started the unravelling of United’s title charge last season.
Liverpool v West Brom
Key Battle: Luis Suarez can carve apart this West Brom team and Gareth MacAuley could be in for a long evening.
Player to Watch: Daniel Sturridge has been in great form since signing for Liverpool from Chelsea, and he is capable of finishing Liverpool moves efficiently.
Talking point: Liverpool had two good draws last week away to Arsenal and Manchester City, but they will now look for wins to kick start a top four challenge.