Premier League weekend preview


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The players to watch, the best Tweets, recent results and a helping hand with your fantasy football picks - we look ahead to this weekend's top-flight fixtures...

Newcastle v Everton, Saturday 12:45

Newcastle continued their impressive unbeaten league run with a hard fought victory at Stoke on Monday and find themselves third in the league. Everton on the other hand have had four defeats in five matches and are two places above the relegation spots. Cheik Tiote is injured for the Magpies and Everton welcome back Royston Drenthe from suspension who has impressed for them since joining on loan from Real Madrid. With Newcastle in their best Premier League form since the 1994-95 season and cash-strapped Everton lacking a cutting edge up front, the Tynesiders should start as favourites.

Recent results: Newcastle 1-2 Everton, (05/03/2011, PL), Everton  0-1 Newcastle, (18/09/2010, PL)

One to watch: Demba Ba, bagged his second hat-trick of the season on Monday night and is in sparkling form for Newcastle. The Senegalese striker has scored 15 Premier League goals in 2011 and his eight goals in his last five games are only two fewer than Everton’s entire goal tally for the season. Against an Everton defence lacking in confidence and potentially without Sylvain Distin through injury Ba will be confident of getting his name on the score sheet once again. 

Did you know?: Newcastle are unbeaten in 13 league games (including their final three matches last season). It is their best run of form in the top flight for over 61 years.

Fantasy pick: Demba Ba, 59 (Newcastle), Tim Howard, 35 (Everton)

Tweet of the week: ' Early nite tonight. Had a great day at training and chilling with the family. My boy can't stop looking at his signed poster from @katyperry', @Tim_Cahill, Tim Cahill, Everton



Arsenal v West Brom, Saturday 3pm

Arsenal were victorious in their eight-goal London derby at Stamford Bridge last weekend with a performance that showed they are still an attacking force to be reckoned with. Questions still remain about their defence however and this is one area West Brom will look to exploit although Roy Hodgson must wish that Shane Long was not out injured after the summer signing bright start to the season. For the Gunners, skipper Robin Van Persie’s incredible run of form continues and West Brom’s defenders will have a job on their hands trying to contain him.

Recent results: West Brom 2-2 Arsenal, (19/03/2011, PL), Arsenal  2-3 West Brom, (25/09/2010, PL)

One to watch: While Robin Van Persie took all the headlines for his hat-trick last week, Theo Walcott produced a performance that was almost as impressive. The winger bagged himself a goal and was deadly in attack for the Gunners in an inspiring display. Arsenal and England fans will hope he can keep up these high standards.

Did you know?: Robin van Persie has scored 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011 - more than any other player.

Fantasy pick:Robin Van Persie, 73 (Arsenal), Chris Brunt, 42 (West Brom)

Tweet of the week: 'relax everyone,there is absolutely no way I would play in the Olympic team if it was going to affect Wales identity as an individual nation!', @aaronjramsey, Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal



Aston Villa v Norwich, Saturday 3pm

Both these clubs drew last weekend although in contrasting styles. Aston Villa will be disappointed to have conceded in the last minute of normal time to Sunderland whereas Norwich were delighted to equalise four minutes into stoppage time as they came back from two goals down against Blackburn. In their respective last three matches, Aston Villa have not won whereas Norwich are unbeaten. With the visiting Canaries sure to go on the attack, they will give themselves every chance of keeping their run going against a Villa side that has not totally convinced so far this season. 

Recent results: Aston Villa 3-0 Norwich, (15/01/2005, PL), Norwich 0-0 Aston Villa, (18/09/2004, PL)

One to watch: Summer signing Antony Pilkington, is the club’s equal top scorer this season and the former Huddersfield town forward could have had a few more if he had made the most of his chances against Man Utd. Canaries’ supporters will hope he has put those misses well and truly behind him and that he can add to his tally at Villa Park.

Did you know?: Richard Dunne's header against Sunderland was his first league goal since December 2009. His previous three 'goals' in the division were all own goals. He has scored 20 career goals - 11 for his teams and nine for the opposition.

Fantasy pick: Gabby Agbonlahor, 52 (Aston Villa), Antony Pilkington, 43 (Norwich)

Tweet of the week: 'I've had a nightmare forgot to download some films to my ipad and got bored of playing tiger woods!', @Pilkington_11, Anthony Pilkington, Norwich



Blackburn v Chelsea, Saturday 3pm

While it is too early in the season to be talking about ‘must-win’ games, both sides could desperately do with a victory. Blackburn are one point off the bottom of the table, with pressure mounting on manager Steve Kean so an unexpected victory would raise morale at the club and potentially give them the impetus they need to turn their season around. Chelsea also badly need a win having been thumped by Arsenal last weekend and only managing to draw with Genk in their midweek Champions League game. Failure to win this game would seriously damage their claims of being genuine title contenders.

Recent results: Chelsea 2-0 Blackburn, (15/01/2011, PL), Blackburn 1-2 Chelsea, (30/10/2010, PL)

One to watch: Daniel Sturridge has been impressive so far for Chelsea this season and with Didier Drogba suspended and Fernando Torres still yet to rediscover his best form, the young striker has the chance to establish himself as the Blues’ key man up front. He will also have one eye on playing his way into Fabio Capello’s Euro 2012 squad with Wayne Rooney’s international suspension looming.

Did you know?: Petr Cech has the worst saves-to-shots percentage (46%) in the Premier League this season. Against Arsenal, he conceded five goals from the seven on-target shots he faced.

Fantasy pick: Junior Hoilett, 38 (Blackburn), Frank Lampard, 59 (Chelsea)

Tweet of the week: ' we the return of Racist chanting at The game yesterday.. Further evidence of the wider issues and attitudes we are fighting against!', @JasonRoberts30, Jason Roberts, Blackburn



Liverpool v Swansea, Saturday 3pm

Both teams come into this game with a victory in their last fixture, as Swansea continued their impressive unbeaten home record. However away they have not been so successful and have picked up a solitary point. Liverpool with in-form striker Luis Suarez will hope to inflict more away-day misery on the Welsh club and continue their six-game unbeaten streak as they look to continue their revival under Kenny Dalglish and keep climbing up the table. 

Recent results: Liverpool 8-0 Swansea, (09/01/1990, FA), Swansea 0-0 Liverpool, (06/01/1990, FA)

One to watch: With captain Steven Gerrard out injured, Liverpool will be looking to summer signing Charlie Adam to fill his shoes in midfield. The Scottish international has scored twice for the Reds in the league this season including a penalty in their last game at West Brom and his team will hope that his dead ball expertise and eye for a good pass can compensate for the loss of their talismanic skipper.

Did you know?: Charlie Adam has scored eight Premier League penalties since the start of last season. No other player has scored more than five.

Fantasy pick: Luis Suarez, 45 (Liverpool), Scott Sinclair, 49 (Swansea)

Tweet of the week: '@billysharp10 hey mate fair play playing last night ...thoughts with u and family at this time', @dawgraham10, Danny Graham, Swansea



Man Utd v Sunderland, Saturday 3pm

This weekend sees Sir Alex Ferguson celebrate 25 years in charge of Man Utd and it is appropriate that he should face a team managed by Steve Bruce who captained Ferguson’s first title-winning side back in 1993. Man Utd have not lost since their derby day humiliation by Man City and must be strong favourites to win here against a Sunderland side who have struggled at times this season. The game also marks an Old Trafford return for Sunderland players Kieran Richardson and Wes Brown although John O’Shea is out injured.

Recent results: Man Utd 2-0 Sunderland, (26/12/2010, PL), Sunderland 0-0 Man Utd, (02/10/2010, PL) 

One to watch: The impact of Javier Hernandez in his debut season for Man Utd last season was so great that he leapfrogged Dimitar Berbatov in the battle for a starting place in the team. The diminutive Mexican is a natural goal scorer and a real danger to opposition defences. He has four goals already this season and when he plays he always looks likely to extend his tally.

Did you know?: Steve Bruce has never beaten his old mentor as a manager in 17 attempts and Sunderland haven't won at United since 1968 either.

Fantasy pick: Wayne Rooney, 69 (Man Utd), Seb Larsson, 52 (Sunderland)

Tweet of the week: ' Just have to say 12 o'clock kick off is no good for players. Trying to force pasta down at 9 in the morning is not nice.', @WayneRooney, Wayne Rooney, Man Utd



QPR v Man City, Saturday 5:30pm

QPR have scored just three goals at home all season whereas Man City have managed 20 on their travels so on paper it looks like it could be a difficult game for the newly-promoted Londoners. Man City did play in the Champions League in midweek but they have such a vast array of talent that this should not really affect them. QPR fans were treated to a derby victory over Chelsea last time they went to Loftus Road however even the most optimistic of them will be doubtful of pulling off the same result against the league leaders. 

Recent results: QPR 0-3 Man City, (28/10/2003, CC), Man City 1-3 QPR, (08/03/2000, L1), QPR 1-1 Man City, (06/11/1999, L1)

One to watch: Man City can count on such riches in attack that Mario Balotelli is not even guaranteed a starting place despite his recent excellent performances. At a time when people all over Britain will be preparing to let off fireworks, Manchester fireman will be delighted the Italian striker is safely at Loftus Road. Although I doubt it is a sentiment the QPR defenders will share as he has the potential to wreak havoc.    

Did you know?: In 10 league matches so far this year, QPR forward Adel Taarabt has had 29 shots - but scored no goals and has zero assists. City's David Silva has scored three goals, had 30 shots and clocked up six assists in the same number of games.

Fantasy pick: Anton Ferdinand, 38 (QPR), Sergio Aguero, 71 (Man City)

Tweet of the week: 'What a footballer Luka Modric is, hats off. Best in the league by a mile.' @Joey7Barton, Joey Barton, QPR



Wolves v Wigan, Sunday 13:30pm

Two teams that have really struggled this season meet at Molineux on Sunday and they will both be very hungry for a win. Wolves have not won for 11 weeks while Wigan have lost their last seven games and with games coming up against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd they are already looking in serious danger of relegation. With both sides seeing this game as a realistic hope of picking up a much needed win, the stage could be set for an exciting game. 

Recent results: Wolves 1-2 Wigan, (26/12/2010, PL), Wigan 2-0 Wolves, (02/10/2010, PL) 

One to watch:  Wayne Hennessey almost single-handedly kept Man City at bay in the first half last week before then undoing all his good work by gifting Edin Dzeko the opening goal. In a game where Wigan should be looking to have a go at Wolves in order to pick up a precious victory the keeper will need to be in good form and to cut out the silly mistakes. 

Did you know?: League matches between these sides at Molineux have averaged 3.6 goals per game. There has never been a goalless draw between them.

Fantasy pick: Matthew Jarvis, 35 (Wolves), Ali Al-Habsi, 42 (Wigan)

Tweet of the week: 'Is anyone watching the penguin thief on frozen planet?? Brilliant!!', @DaveEdwards4, Dave Edwards, Wolves



Bolton v Stoke, Sunday 3pm

Bolton are still yet to win a game at home this season or indeed pick up a single point on their own turf and it is appropriate therefore that they are visited by Stoke. Since losing to them 5-0 in the FA Cup semi-final last year, Bolton have lost 13 of 16 league games and have conceded more goals per game than any other club in the football league. Stoke however have not been brilliant away from home, winning only once and if the Trotters want to turn their season around this could be a good place to start.

Recent results: Bolton 0-5 Stoke, (17/04/2011, FA), Stoke 2-0 Bolton, (15/01/2011, PL), Bolton 2-1 Stoke, (16/10/2010, PL)

One to watch: Jonathan Walters is Stoke’s top league goal scorer this season and the Potters will be hoping he can add to his tally at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday. Last year he grew an impressive moustache for ‘Movember’ and bagged himself two goals, his team will be hoping that moustachioed or not he can do the same this year. 

Did you know?: Only once before has a Premier League side conceded more goals than Bolton in their opening 10 matches - Barnsley let in 28 in the 1997-98 season.

Fantasy pick: Chris Eagles, 38 (Bolton), Jonathan Walters 50 (Stoke) 

Tweet of the week: 'Morning tweeps, tired this morning. 1st of November can only mean one thing. Start of Movemeber, there will be some dodgy taches!', @asmir1, Asmir Begovic, Stoke



Fulham v Tottenham, Sunday 4pm

Arguably the best match of the weekend is the last one to be played, as for the third weekend in a row, two London clubs go head-to-head. Tottenham are the capital’s form team although will almost certainly be without their manager Harry Redknapp following his heart surgery this week. Fulham will be buoyed by their Europa Leauge trouncing of Wisla Krakow this week and have an in-form attack. Attack is also Tottenham’s strong suit so this game brings the promise of goals. 

Recent results: Fulham 4-0 Tottenham, (30/01/2011, FA), Tottenham 1-0 Fulham, (01/01/2011, PL), Fulham 1-2 Tottenham, (16/10/2010, PL)

One to watch: Andy Johnson is Fulham’s top scorer this season and the striker grabbed two goals on Thursday night, including a stunning volley. Fulham fans will be hoping he can carry on where he left off and help his side to another London derby victory after their 6-0 thrashing of QPR earlier in the season.

Did you know?: Rafael van der Vaart is bidding to become only the seventh player in Tottenham's history to score in six or more consecutive league matches. Garth Crooks is the last player to achieve the feat between December 1984 and January 1985.

Fantasy pick: Clint Dempsey, 51 (Fulham), Rafael van der Vaart, 63 (Tottenham)

Tweet of the week: 'Sorry for my man Thierry Henry and the New York Redbulls who got knocked out last night. Better luck next year bro.', @Sheyiadebayor, Emmanuel Adebayor, Tottenham



* Based on Fantasy Premier League, the official Premier League fantasy game