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Villa stalemate, Middlesbrough woe and no capital gains for Sunderland

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.

 

 

Aston Villa v Chelsea

Villa Park – K.O. 12:45 – WATCH LIVE: Sky Sports 1

BUILD-UP:

Guus Hiddink could have certainly chosen at least
another 15 grounds he would like to visit on his Chelsea managerial bow. Villa
are the season's surprise package and can pull further clear of supposedly
bigger sides Chelsea and Arsenal. A win for Chelsea could propel them back into
the title race if other results also go their way. Martin O'Neill will be keen
to test his players' resolve against a team which turned them over comfortably
at Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign.

LEAGUE FORM:

Aston Villa: WWWDW Chelsea:
LWWLD

LAST MEETING:

05/10/09

Stamford Bridge -Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa

KEY TEAM NEWS:

Aston Villa are sweating over the fitness of
key players Emile Heskey and James Milner who have Achilles and thigh problems
respectively.

Meanwhile Ashley Cole is banned for Chelsea
who could also be without fellow defenders Alex and Ricardo
Carvalho.

ONE TO WATCH:

Nicholas Anelka: The Premiership's top
marksman will have to feed and scraps, but could still win it for Chelsea .

PREDICTION:

Aston Villa 1 – 1 Chelsea

Arsenal v Sunderland

Emirates Stadium – K.O. 15:00

BUILD-UP:

Now a massive 15 points behind league leaders
Manchester United, Arsene Wenger has confessed that ensuring Champions League
qualification is now the main aim for Arsenal's season. Anything other than a
win over Sunderland would cast huge doubts on the ability of Wenger's squad.
Sunderland are starting to gradually improve under Ricky Sbragia and any
positive result could see the Black Cats squeak into the top half. Sbragia has
declared he wants his side to approach Arsenal in a positive manner; we will
have to see if this is the right way to go.

LEAGUE FORM:

Arsenal: WWDDD Sunderland:
DLWDW

LAST MEETING:

04/10/09

Stadium of Light – Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal

KEY TEAM NEWS:

Andrey Arshavin will make his Arsenal debut,
but Eduardo's return from injury was short-lived and he is likely to be absent
for around two weeks. Diaby, Silvestre, Adebayor, Fabregas, Walcott and Rosicky
are also cramming up the Arsenal treatment table.

Sunderland could welcome back Teemu Tainio and
Paul McShane but Phil Bardsley is suspended and so either Tal Ben Haim or Calum
Davenport could make their debut in his place.

ONE TO WATCH:

Andrey Arshavin: Can the Russian playmaker add
an extra dimension to a struggling Arsenal outfit?

PREDICTION:

Arsenal 3 – 0 Sunderland

Bolton v West Ham United

Reebok Stadium – K.O. 15:00

BUILD-UP:

With West Ham looking up and Bolton looking down,
this is an intriguing tie as Gary Megson's men look for a third successive
victory over West Ham. The progress under Gianfranco Zola has faltered of late,
but they have played both Arsenal and Manchester United in their recent run of
fixtures. A Europa Cup spot is still not out of the question for West Ham,
whereas a win for the home side will ease relegation fears.

LEAGUE FORM:

Bolton: LLDWL West Ham:
DWWDL

LAST MEETING:

05/10/09

Upton Park – West Ham 1-3 Bolton

KEY TEAM NEWS:

Bolton will be relieved that the return from
injury of a handful of players has boosted their squad. Johan Elmander, Gavin
McCann, Tamir Cohen and Nicky Hunt all return to the first team fold for the
home side.

Talisman Carlton Cole looks likely to miss out for
West Ham who will also be without Luis Boa Morte and Lucas
Neill.

ONE TO WATCH:

Savio Nsereko: West Ham's record buy will
deputise for Cole and will want to make an impact.

PREDICTION:

Bolton 1 – 1 West Ham

Middlesbrough v Wigan Athletic

Riverside – K.O. 15:00

BUILD-UP:

More and more pressure is building on Gareth
Southgate and his squad after a string of unimpressive performances. On the flip
side Steve Bruce has taken Wigan from relegation fodder to Europa Cup hopefuls
and the two young English managers must have such contrasting views on their
respective seasons thus far. Middlesbrough need to record a win sooner rather
than later and Southgate will be hoping home advantage could mean that win comes
against Wigan.

LEAGUE FORM:

Middlesbrough: DLLDL Wigan:
LLDDD

LAST MEETING:

04/10/09

JJB Stadium – Wigan 0-1 Middlesbrough

KEY TEAM NEWS:

With no new injury concerns Middlesbrough are
likely to name an unchanged lineup, despite a recent run of poor
form.

Wigan will be without Antonio Valencia and
Daniel de Ridder due to injury and on loan striker Mido is ineligible against
his parent team.

ONE TO WATCH:

Amr Zaki: After an explosive start to the
season the Egyptian needs to find his form again, especially with Mido
out.

PREDICTION:

Middlesbrough 0 – 1 Wigan
Athletic

Stoke City v Portsmouth

Britannia Stadium – K.O. 15:00

BUILD-UP:

17th host 15th in this bona
fide relegation six-pointer as Tony Pulis will be hoping to take advantage over
a Portsmouth side still without a manager. Having said that Pompey recorded
their first win in what seemed like an eternity without a boss at the helm last
time out against Man City. A victory for either side will help to pull them away
from the drop zone, but for the losing side another anxious look at the other
results will await them after they traipse off the field.

LEAGUE FORM:

Stoke: DLLWL Portsmouth:
DLLLW

LAST MEETING:

05/10/09

Fratton Park – Portsmouth 2-1 Stoke

KEY TEAM NEWS:

Both Matthew Etherington and Rory Delap will miss out
for Stoke through suspension. Stephen Kelly and Danny Higginbotham are
injury doubts, but Mamady Sidibe could return and Henri Camara is in line to
make his full debut.

Meanwhile Richard Hughes, Papa Bouba Diop and Armand
Traore remain the three absentees for Portsmouth who have no new injury
worries.

ONE TO WATCH:

David James: The record breaker will face a
lot of physical competition in and around his penalty area and must stay
strong.

PREDICTION:

Stoke City 1 – 1 Portsmouth

Manchester United v Blackburn Rovers

Old Trafford – K.O. 17:30 – WATCH LIVE: Setanta
Sports 1

BUILD-UP:

Runs and records go on as Manchester United continue
to dominate all Premier League sides who cross their path. As fixtures from all
four competitions start to pile up it will be interesting to see if Sir Alex
Ferguson can keep his side fresh enough to pursue the quadruple. Blackburn boss
Sam Allardyce knows what a team needs to be victorious at Old Trafford and his
Rovers side are likely to prove hard to break down. The most difficult fixture
for a side battling to get out of the relegation zone, especially if those sides
around Blackburn pick up points earlier in the day.

LEAGUE FORM:

Man Utd: WWWWW Blackburn:
DWDDL

LAST MEETING:

04/10/09

Ewood Park – Blackburn 0-2 Man Utd

KEY TEAM NEWS:

Wayne Rooney is likely to complete his comeback from
injury by starting for Manchester United, who should also welcome back
the likes of Ryan Giggs and Rafael whilst John O'Shea is a slight doubt.

Blackburn will be without key defender
Christopher Samba who is banned whilst Danny Simpson cannot feature against his
parent club.

ONE TO WATCH:

Wayne Rooney: Will be looking to build on a
scoring return and prepare for the challenge of Inter Milan.

PREDICTION:

Manchester United 2 – 0 Blackburn
Rovers

 

 

 

Article title: Villa stalemate, Middlesbrough woe and no capital gains for Sunderland

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