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Arsenal & Manchester United face easy day at the office, while Aston Villa’s run goes on

Football FanCast columnist Mark Bryans looks
ahead to the afternoon's Premier League fixtures and wonders which supporters
will have the bragging rights come this evening.



A new
year, a new Football FanCast and a new look to our previews section, what more
could you ask for?

 

This
section will provide you with all the information you require in the build-up
to all of Saturday's Premier League encounters. It is your one-stop-shop to
whet your appetite for a weekend of fantastic football.

 

Blackburn Rovers v Newcastle United

Ewood
Park- K.O. 15:00

 

BUILD-UP:

Sam
Allardyce will look to continue on his quest to drag Blackburn Rovers out of
the relegation zone against the club which sacked him as their manager 12
months ago. Allardyce had 24 games at the helm at Newcastle United whose
current manager Joe Kinnear will be looking to improve his sides' form.

 

LEAGUE
FORM:

Blackburn:
LLWDD Newcastle:
WWLLD

 

LAST
MEETING:

27/10/08

St.James'
Park – Newcastle 1 – 2 Blackburn

 

KEY
TEAM NEWS:

Blackburn
should
welcome both Roque Santa Cruz and David Dunn back into the side. Steven Taylor
may miss out for Newcastle who are already missing a host of first team
players.

 

ONE TO
WATCH:

Michael
Owen:
When
fit there is no better predator in the Premier League.

PREDICTION:

Blackburn
1 – 1 Newcastle

 

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Bolton Wanderers v Manchester
United

 

Reebok
Stadium- K.O. 15:00

 

BUILD-UP:

Victory
for Sir Alex Ferguson's men at the Reebok will see them leapfrog Liverpool and
steal top spot in the table. The Trotters do have a habit of picking up points
against the Champions and last season's victory against United was Gary
Megson's first as Bolton's manager.

 

LEAGUE
FORM:

Bolton:
LWLLL Man
Utd:
DWWWW

 

LAST
MEETING:

27/10/08

Old
Trafford – Man Utd 2 – 0 Bolton

 

KEY
TEAM NEWS:

Gary
Cahill and Gretar Steinsson should return for Bolton, and new loan
signing Sebastien Puygrenier could make his debut. Manchester United
will definitely be without in-form Wayne Rooney whilst Carlos Tevez is also a
major doubt.

 

ONE TO
WATCH:

Matthew
Taylor:
Bolton's
most consistent player this season, and a goal threat.

 

PREDICTION:

Bolton 1 –
3 Man Utd

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Chelsea v Stoke City

 

Stamford
Bridge- K.O. 15:00

 

BUILD-UP:

Under
pressure Chelsea boss Luis Filipe Scolari will be hoping for a big win in front
of his largely disapproving supporters. The Blues' are on a run worthy of a
relegation dogfight rather than title contention and they need to keep up with
the pace. Tony Pulis' Stoke side is likely to sit back and attempt to soak up
Chelsea's attacking pressure, but the Potters know they can take a point.

 

LEAGUE
FORM:

Chelsea:
DDWDL Stoke:
DLLLD

 

LAST
MEETING:

27/10/08

Britannia
Stadium – Stoke 0 – 2 Chelsea

 

KEY
TEAM NEWS:

It remains
to be seen if Didier Drogba will play a part for Chelsea, who may decide
to drop either Deco or Michael Ballack to the bench. Stoke City are
expected to hand a debut to new signing James Beattie in an attempt to add more
goals to their play.

 

ONE TO
WATCH:

James
Beattie:
Another
stab at the Premier League and could become an instant Stoke City hero.

 

PREDICTION:

Chelsea
2-0 Stoke

Manchester
City

v
Wigan Athletic

 

City Of
Manchester Stadium- K.O. 15:00

 

BUILD-UP:

Everyone
involved with Manchester City will have to remove all thoughts of Kaka from
their heads as high-flying Wigan visit Eastlands. Few would have thought Steve
Bruce's men would be up in 7th whilst the billionaires of Manchester
City languish near the relegation zone, Bruce's former Man Utd teammate Mark
Hughes needs to put one over his old captain.

 

LEAGUE
FORM:

Man
City:
DLLWD Wigan:
WWWWL

 

LAST
MEETING:

28/10/08

JJB
Stadium – Wigan 2-1 Man City

 

KEY
TEAM NEWS:

Man
City

should hand Wayne Bridge his debut and welcome Robinho back from injury. Shaun
Wright-Phillips faces a fitness test and Stephen Ireland is suspended. Wigan
have no new injury concerns but Wilson Palacios is unlikely to feature given
his seemingly imminent departure.

 

ONE TO
WATCH:

Robinho:
The
little Brazilian's return to fitness has been overshadowed, but he will be
looking to shine once again.

 

PREDICTION:

Man City 1
– 1 Wigan

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Sunderland v Aston
Villa

 

Stadium
of Light- K.O. 15:00

 

BUILD-UP:

Ricky
Sbragia has done a fine job at steadying Sunderland's swaying ship and the
Wearsiders have lost just one of the last five. They will be tested to the
limit by Martin O'Neill's Aston Villa side who continue to defy the critics who
claim a slip-up is imminent. Villa are unbeaten in nine Premier League outings
but do not have the best record on Sunderland turf, a point would satisfy both
managers.

 

LEAGUE
FORM:

Sunderland:
WWDLD Villa:
WWDWW

 

LAST
MEETING:

27/10/08

Villa Park
– Aston Villa 2-1 Sunderland

 

KEY
TEAM NEWS:

George
McCartney, Craig Gordon and Steed Malbranque are Sunderland's main
absentees. Aston Villa have no fresh injury concerns and may stick with
the same team. Interestingly this game pits the team who have used the most
players this season (Sunderland) against the team which has utilised the fewest
(Villa.)

 

ONE TO
WATCH:

Ashley
Young:
The
Villa youngster has just become the first player to be named Player of the
Month three times in the same season, and it is only January.

 

PREDICTION:

Sunderland
0 – 2 Aston Villa

 

 

West Bromwich Albion v Middlesbrough

Hawthorns- K.O. 15:00

 

BUILD-UP:

Arguably the first ‘official' relegation
six-pointer of the season as a win for West Brom could elevate them out of the
drop zone and move Tony Mowbray's side level on points with Middlesbrough.
Gareth Southgate's Boro side made an impressive start to the season but have
slumped toward the foot of the table and need to halt the slide sooner rather
than later.

 

LEAGUE FORM:

WBA: LWLWL Middlesbrough:
DLLLD

 

LAST MEETING:

27/10/08

Riverside – Middlesbrough 0 -1 West
Brom

 

KEY TEAM NEWS:

West Brom are without James Morrison
(injured) and Roman Bednar (suspended) but could hand a debut to on-loan forward
Marc-Antoine Fortune. Didier Digard and Gary O'Neil have both been passed fit
for Middlesbrough who could be without skipper Emanuel
Pogatetz.

 

ONE TO WATCH:

Filipe Teixeira: A fans favourite at the
Hawthorns, this could be his first start since returning from a horrific knee
injury.

 

PREDICTION:

WBA 1 – 0 Middlesbrough

 

 

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Hull City v Arsenal

 

KC Stadium- K.O. 17:30 (Live on Setanta Sports
1)

 

BUILD-UP:

No doubt the famous victory at the Emirates Stadium
remains fresh in the minds of all involved in this fixture. Phil Brown is still
looking to stop the mid-season rot that threatens to undo Hull's hard work in
the opening months of the season whilst Arsene Wenger will be desperate to
avenge the aforementioned defeat and keep pace with Aston Villa.

 

LEAGUE FORM:

Hull: DLLLL Arsenal:
DDDWW

 

LAST MEETING:

27/10/08

Emirates Stadium – Arsenal 1 – 2 Hull
City

 

KEY TEAM NEWS:

Kamil Zayatte is suspended and is Hull City's
only noticeable absentee as Andy Dawson and Anthony Gardner return to the
squad. They could be joined by new signings Kevin Kilbane and Manucho.
Arsenal have problems in defence and are without William Gallas, Mikael
Silvestre and possibly Alex Song.

 

ONE TO WATCH:

Kolo Toure: The Ivorian needs to be strong
and dependable at the back due to Arsenal's injury-ravaged defensive
line.

 

PREDICTION:

Hull 1 – 3 Arsenal

 

 

 

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FootballFanCast

Article title: Arsenal & Manchester United face easy day at the office, while Aston Villa’s run goes on

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