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Dublin: 22 °C Thursday 24 July, 2014

Premier League previews: Who will win this weekend’s games and why

There are some big games coming up, including Chelsea v Arsenal and Tottenham v Man United.

All games kick off Saturday 3pm unless stated otherwise.

Liverpool v Norwich

(Luis Suarez cut a frustrated figure in Liverpool’s game with Manchester United last week – Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport)

TV: Setanta Ireland

Betting: 4/11 (home), 15/4 (draw), 8/1 (away).

Injured: Liverpool – Jose Enrique.

All signs in this match point to a Liverpool victory.

Norwich’s away form is fairly poor this season, while Liverpool have looked impressive at Anfield in particular in recent games.

And while Brendan Rodgers’ side may have lost to United last week, they more than held their own for large parts of the contest.

In addition, with both Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez looking sharp and hungry for goals, Norwich will find their opponents difficult to contain.

Verdict: Liverpool

Man City v Fulham

(Edin Dzeko looked impressive against Arsenal on Sunday – Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport)

Betting: 1/4 (home), 5/1 (draw), 11/1 (away).

Doubtful: Man City – Sergio Aguero. Fulham – Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei.

Unavailable: Man City – Yaya Toure

Even the most ardent Fulham fan would find it difficult to conceive of a positive outcome today.

Man City boast a tremendous home record, and are coming off the back of a ruthless win over Arsenal.

The London side are also missing two decent players in the form of Mahamadou Diarra and Kerim Frei.

Yet Martin Jol’s team can take some solace from the fact that they have a reasonable record against City traditionally in the Premier League, but alas, not much.

Verdict: Man City

Newcastle v Reading

(Reading secured an incredible victory over West Brom last weekend – Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: 4/5 (home), 13/5 (draw), 7/2 (away).

Injured: Reading – Jason Roberts.

Doubtful: Newcastle – Steven Taylor.

While it’s no real shock that Reading are currently languishing near the bottom of the table, Newcastle are – to many people’s surprise – only five points ahead of them.

Indeed, Alan Pardew’s men have been on such a disastrous run that it’s become their worst start ever to a Premier League season.

The Magpies could, however, be boosted by the return of Steven Taylor, whose longstanding absence has ostensibly been one of the reasons for their downfall.

Reading, meanwhile, will be hoping they can channel some of the spirit that saw them score three goals in the dying stages last week to earn a dramatic victory over West Brom.

Home advantage, though, should just about see Newcastle through.

Verdict: Newcastle

Swansea v Stoke City

(Jonathan Walters will be hoping to recover from the bad luck he endured against Chelsea – Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: 6/5 (home), 9/4 (draw), 12/5 (away).

Injured: Swansea – Kemy Agustien.

Doubtful: Stoke City – Andy Wilkinson.

Not the most exciting encounter of the weekend admittedly, though it should at least be interesting from an Irish perspective.

Jon Walters drew praise from his manager when he recovered from his misfortune-laden display against Chelsea by scoring two midweek goals in the FA Cup, and it’ll be intriguing to see how he does today too.

It should be an even enough encounter, as both the sides are in mid table, having 29 and 30 points respectively at the moment.

Nonetheless, Swansea have been especially good at home this season, so expect them to narrowly prevail today.

Verdict: Swansea

West Ham v QPR

(Harry Redknapp has revitalised QPR since taking over – Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Betting: 11/10 (home), 23/10 (draw), 13/5 (away).

Doubtful: West Ham – Joey O’Brien and James Collins. QPR – Esteban Granero.

Injured: West Ham – Andy Carroll and George McCartney.

Unavailable: QPR – Samba Diakite.

Harry Redknapp’s magician-esque reputation has certainly been in evidence since he took over at QPR, turning the side from no-hopers into a team capable of drawing with the likes of Tottenham and beating Chelsea.

He has managed to get the best out of enigmatic characters such as Adel Taarabt, while wisely giving the side some steel by regularly including experienced pros like Shaun Derry.

West Ham, though, can be an extremely difficult side to play against on their day, and the Hammers have already beaten sides as good as Chelsea at Upton Park this season.

But with QPR playing as cohesively as they have been recently, don’t be surprised if they manage to knick a draw.

Verdict: Draw

Wigan v Sunderland

(James McClean’s form has improved of late – Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: 6/5 (home), 9/4 (draw), 12/5 (away).

Injured: Wigan – Ivan Ramis and Antolin Alcaraz.

Doubtful: Sunderland – Steven Fletcher.

Interestingly, Sunderland seemed to totally forget all their woes last week, suddenly playing to their full potential.

The likes of James McClean and Stephane Sessegnon have had largely disappointing seasons, but were fantastic in the 3-0 win over West Ham.

Wigan, on the other hand, were less impressive, as they only managed a draw with Fulham.

The Latics are still only above the relegation zone on goal difference, but expect them to have the necessary fight to secure a point from this encounter.

Verdict: Draw

West Brom v Aston Villa (5.30pm)

(Romelu Lukaku’s performances have been one of the few positive signs for West Brom of late – Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

TV: ESPN

Injured: West Brom – Steven Reid. Aston Villa – Chris Herd and Marc Albrighton.

Doubtful: West Brom – Shane Long, Claudio Yacob and Marc-Antoine Fortune. Aston Villa – Darren Bent.

Betting: 3/4 (home), 13/5 (draw), 4/1 (away).

In recent years, Aston Villa would have predominantly been favourites in this local derby.

However, the clubs’ fortunes have shifted recently, and it is currently the Baggies who seem the far superior side.

Yet while they started off the season in spectacular fashion, Steve Clarke’s men are looking less than assured now, having won only two of their last nine league games.

Though despite the low confidence that their form will surely have prompted, the Baggies should have enough quality at home to heap the misery on Aston Villa and Paul Lambert.

Verdict: West Brom

Chelsea v Arsenal (1.30pm)

(Chelsea endured a disappointing draw against Southampton earlier in the week – Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

TV: Sky Sports 1

Betting: 19/20 (home), 5/2 (draw), 3/1 (away).

Unavailable: Chelsea – John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses. Arsenal – Gervinho.

Injured: Chelsea – Oriol Romeu. Arsenal – Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky.

Arsenal will be hoping to recover from an awful display last week, in which they were comprehensively beaten by Man City.

Nevertheless, Chelsea’s form hardly bodes well either, and the fact that the Stamford Bridge outfit have lost as many home matches as they’ve won against the Gunners accentuates the level of unpredictability surrounding Sunday’s game.

Both sides have lost players to the African Nations Cup, though none of the absent individuals in question could be considered key figures for their club, so their departures are unlikely to have a significant effect.

It’s a tough one to call, but I’m going with Chelsea, on the basis of Arsenal’s highly inept performance against City.

Verdict: Chelsea

Tottenham v Manchester United (4pm)

(Tottenham were not at their best against QPR – Nick Potts/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

TV: Sky Sports 1

Injured: Tottenham – Sandro. Man United – Ashley Young and Jonny Evans.

Unavailable: Tottenham – Emmanuel Adebayor.

Betting: 15/8 (home), 23/10 (draw), 6/4 (away).

Manchester United have gotten some decent results lately without looking especially impressive.

Similarly, Tottenham have picked up a considerable number of points in recent games, though last week’s draw with QPR would have been a disappointment for Andre Villas-Boas and his men.

Spurs also won the reverse fixture this season, and should prove a big test for United again.

However, the hosts haven’t beaten the Red Devils since 2001 at White Hart Lane in the league, and don’t expect that record to change tomorrow.

Alex Ferguson’s side’s below-par defence, though, may prove to be the pivotal factor, while the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon could conceivably thrive and help earn their team a point at least.

Verdict: Draw

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