Premier League Preview: Gameweek 17

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It isn’t difficult to predict the what the wishlists of most Premier League managers will contain this Xmas, in light of the coal recently received by Steve Clarke and a certain Portuguese man. AVB is the latest casualty of the campaign, meaning an entire quarter of top flight clubs have experienced managerial turnover before the turn of the year. The festive fixture pile-up may take yet more victims as Scrooge-like chairmen panic ahead of the January transfer window. Things may get frosty…Here’s my Premier League Preview for Gameweek 17.

Liverpool v Cardiff
The gift that keeps on giving, Luis Suarez, faces a Cardiff side with only two wins in their last ten games. Given that the Uruguayan destroyed Spurs in their own backyard last week, he must surely be licking his lips at the prospect of this fixture. Brendan Rodgers’ men have the chance to go temporarily top if they claim all three points, while Cardiff might end the weekend one point above the dreaded dotted line.

Get him in your fantasy team folks, a brace from Suarez helps Liverpool to a comfortable 3-0 win.

Crystal Palace v Newcastle
Only two defeats in their last six games has given a resurgent Palace some momentum and they could finally escape the depths of the relegation zone with a win against in-form Newcastle. A 1-1 draw was a probably a fair reflection on the game up at St James’ Park against Southampton however Loic Remy will be hoping to redeem himself on Saturday after missing two glorious chance to snatch all three points last week. Playmaker Cabaye should return to the visitors’ midfield.

This game could go either way, but I’m calling a 0-0 at Selhurst Park.

Fulham v Man City
The Cottagers undid their fine win against Villa by crumbling against a dominant Everton side, and Meulensteen will not be pleased with conceding three goals in the last 20 minutes after drawing level with another Berbatov penalty. The Bulgarian appears more motivated under the new coach and his form is crucial to their survival and claiming any points at all against the brilliance of Pellegrini’s City. The visiting manager has really found his feet in Manchester and has created a team who have already scored over 70 goals in all competitions under his guidance.

Despite the absence of Aguero, this is a formality for me. 3-1 to City.

Man Utd v West Ham
Two teams who drastically needed their respective League Cup victories in the week to appease concerned fans will go head-to-head at the newly-named Theatre of Coming-apart-at-the-seams. Modibo Maiga, West Ham’s midweek hero, will be hoping he can carry his form through the Christmas period, starting at Old Trafford. David Moyes has allayed fears that Wayne Rooney’s groin injury will keep him out of the game, however I remember similar noises before the Scot rushed back RVP against Newcastle, with the Dutchman now on the sidelines until the New Year.

I can’t see Man Utd keeping a clean sheet, but if Rooney starts, I’m calling 2-1 to the home side.

Stoke City v Aston Villa
Stoke endured the reigning Premier League champions and a blizzard in midweek, so may find a bit more comfort in a home tie against Paul Lambert’s men in this mid-table Midlands ‘thriller’. The Potters haven’t lost at the Britannia since September, and Mark Hughes will look to build on this solid platform in the hope of three points. Villa have lost their last two league games, seeing them drop out of the top half, however a win could see them even start to breath down Southampton’s neck, such is the tightness of the table.

I’m calling a 1-0 win for Stoke, making an unwanted hat-trick of consecutive defeats for the visitors.

Sunderland v Norwich
A dramatic win against Chelsea in midweek nudged Poyet and his men one step closer to silverware and Europe, however a crucial bout against Norwich will mean there is no time for celebration or complacency. The Black Cats quite simply need to win this one, if they have any designs of forging a decent run of form before the end of the year. Only two defeats in their last six league games has seen Chris Hughton’s fortunes improve, with the top half very much in their sights, helped by summer signing Gary Hooper beginning to find the net for his new team.

I think this will be an frantically-fought and vital 1-0 win for Sunderland.

West Brom v Hull City
Two clubs experiencing two very different crises: West Brom are without a permanent manager after Steve Clarke’s unceremonious exit last week, while Hull fans are doing everything they can to stop a name change to Hull Tigers. A defeat for the home side could see them slip into the relegation zone and, similarly to Rene Meulensteen’s task at Fulham, a despondent looking squad will need to pick themselves up and fight for their survival. Steve Bruce will hope to better a record of a single win in his last six league games.

A fiery 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.

Southampton v Tottenham
The Saints’ difficult run continues however despite picking up only one win in their last seven, they have recorded impressive 1-1 draws against Man City and Newcastle in their last two games. With Tim Sherwood at the helm, Spurs might actually field some of their summer signings at St Mary’s. Imagine that. AVB was dismissed, despite picking up seven points from a possible 12 in his last four games, and positioned only five points from the Champions League places. Was Daniel Levy too hasty? In my opinion, absolutely. Townsend’s injury may actually be a blessing should Erik Lamela be brought in, who has more to offer with regards to a final product than the tricky England man.

I can’t see a Spurs side in disarray beating an impressive looking Saints right now. 2-1 to Southampton.

Swansea v Everton
One defeat (against high-flying Man City) in their last six games has seen the Swans enjoy a bit of form of late, with Michu slowly making his comeback after a spell on the sidelines. The Welsh side have also scored more goals than any team currently in the bottom half of the table and will need all the firepower they can muster if they want to break down a sturdy Everton backline. Martinez’s men are surprising a lot of people this season, and can boast a run of nine unbeaten in the league and the joint best defence.

I think Everton will ride out 2-0 winners.

Arsenal v Chelsea
The showpiece of the weekend will see the victors claiming top spot in the division (mathematically speaking at least). Wenger will be looking to add stability to a back five that conceded six against title challengers Man City last week, in what was one of the games of the season so far. In light of which, Thomas Vermaelen may come in to freshen things up for the Gunners, who will probably be without a retrospectively disciplined Jack Wilshere. Chelsea will most certainly field an entirely different team to the one which got knocked out of the League Cup in midweek and will hope the stutter against Stoke was only that, a stutter. Once again, this should be a cracker.

1-1 at the Emirates.

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