Games kick-off at 3pm unless stated otherwise.
Newcastle v Man City (12.45pm)
TV: Sky Sports 2
(City will be missing the suspended Gareth Barry for today’s game – JON SUPER/AP/Press Association Images)
Doubtful: Newcastle – Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa. Man City – Vincent Kompany.
Suspended: Man City – Gareth Barry.
Betting: 15/4 (home), 11/4 (draw), 8/11 (away).
Both these sides are likely to be somewhat demoralised for today’s encounter.
Newcastle slipped to 14th in the table having lost 2-1 to Fulham last week, while City endured a highly disappointing defeat in Sunday’s much-discussed Manchester derby.
The Magpies, though, will undoubtedly be the less confident of the two teams going into the game, given their dour run of form lately.
City can take solace from the fact they’ve won the last five encounters between the sides, and should do so again, if the match pans out as expected.
Verdict: Man City
Liverpool v Aston Villa
(Luis Suarez is likely to return to the Liverpool starting lineup today – Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport)
Doubtful: Liverpool – Jose Enrique. Aston Villa – Enda Stevens, Joe Bennett.
Injured: Aston Villa – Darren Bent, Ron Vlaar.
Betting: 2/5 (home), 7/2 (draw), 15/2 (away).
Liverpool’s recent upturn in fortune has invoked a confident mood at Anfield, with Brendan Rodgers this week suggesting the club were capable of finishing in the top two.
Villa, however, are also looking markedly better in comparison to their dire showings at the start of the season, and are unbeaten in four Premier League matches.
And while Paul Lambert’s side have performed respectably of late, Liverpool’s win at West Ham last weekend was particularly laudable on account of Luis Suarez’s absence for the match due to suspension.
So Suarez’s return, coupled with Villa’s poor record at Anfield, means there is only one likely outcome in this fixture.
Man United v Sunderland
(Alex Ferguson has defended Sunderland’s embattled manager, Martin O’Neill – CLINT HUGHES/AP/Press Association Images)
TV: Setanta Ireland
Betting: 1/5 (home), 11/2 (draw), 14/1 (away).
Doubtful: Man United – Nemanja Vidic.
Injured: Man United – Jonny Evans. Sunderland – Steven Fletcher, Adam Johnson, Danny Rose.
For a side that’s received a substantial amount of criticism this season, United are doing remarkably well.
Not much more could be asked of Alex Ferguson’s men at this stage than being top of the league by six points and still in contention for the Champions League.
The same cannot be said for Sunderland though, with Martin O’Neill’s position at the club being questioned, owing to recent performances.
While Ferguson was one of those who dismissed the notion that O’Neill should be sacked, the veteran manager’s team are unlikely to be as charitable to the Northern Irishman at Old Trafford this afternoon.
Verdict: Man United
Norwich v Wigan
(James McCarthy impressed for Wigan against QPR last week – JON SUPER/AP/Press Association Images)
Doubtful: Norwich – Wes Hoolahan, Alex Tettey, Steven Whittaker. Wigan – Gary Caldwell, Ivan Ramis.
Betting: 6/5 (home), 23/10 (draw), 23/10 (away).
Two sides whose performances can be described as inconsistent at best meet at Carrow Road today.
Both are likely to have Irish midfielders who have impressed of late, with James McCarthy hitting a brace last weekend, and Wes Hoolahan catching the eye for Norwich on occasion this year.
Wigan showed good character to comeback against QPR last week, and have demonstrated impressive away form in the past – their surprise victory over Tottenham being a prime example.
Ostensibly though, this is a game Norwich should win, given their home advantage, in addition to the fact that they’re a full six places above their opponents in the table.
QPR v Fulham
(Dimitar Berbatov was widely praised for his performance in helping Fulham to beat Newcastle last week – Joe Giddens/EMPICS Sport)
Injured: QPR – Park Ji-sung. Fulham – Simon Davies.
Doubtful: Fulham – Mahamadou Diarra.
Betting: 7/5 (home), 12/5 (draw), 19/10 (away).
QPR have at least looked hard to beat since Harry Redknapp took over, and seem to possess a level of solidity that was sorely lacking with Mark Hughes at the helm.
Yet on the downside, they now have the longest run without a win since the opening day out of any side in Premier League history – and such statistics will hardly do much to improve their already tenuous confidence.
Fulham, on the other hand, got a much-needed win over Newcastle last week, with even opposition manager Alan Pardew singling out Dimitar Berbatov’s performance for praise.
QPR, however, have shown enough spirit recently to suggest they can quell the threat of the Bulgarian and his colleagues.
Stoke City v Everton
(Tony Pulis has played down his side’s bad-boy reputation – David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images)
Injured: Stoke – Michael Owen. Everton – Kevin Mirallas, Tony Hibbert.
Suspended: Stoke – Ryan Shotton.
Betting: 15/8 (home), 9/4 (draw), 6/4 (away).
With two overtly physical sides on display, don’t be surprised to see a few strong challenges this afternoon, though Tony Pulis has argued in recent days that his team’s image as ruffians is unduly stereotypical.
This is possibly the toughest game of the weekend to call – Stoke are unbeaten at home, winning four of their seven games at the Britannia, while Everton’s victory against Spurs last week saw them hit the heady heights of fourth place in the table.
Tony Pulis’ side will go seven games unbeaten in total if they avoid defeat today, and will equal their Premier League record in the process.
So for all Everton’s invariably impressive displays this season, they will have to exceed expectations once more if they are to overcome the fortress Britannia factor.