THERE isn’t an outstanding Premier League match on Saturday but there are some interesting ones.
The big game takes place on Sunday with Liverpool hosting Man United and I’ll post a separate preview on the match.
Arsenal look best bets on Saturday as they head for off form and injury-hit Newcastle. The Gunners, who played well in Monaco despite crashing out of the Champions League, are no bigger than 8-13 with the likes of William Hill but I’d seriously consider them at 6-4 with Paddy Power -1.
Spurs were well beaten at Man Utd last weekend but should bounce back at home to Leicester. They are a best 8-13 at boylesports and Harry Kane is 7-2 at Coral to celebrate his England call-up with the first goal.
Man City have a great home record against West Brom but have been off the boil recently and are without Yaya Toure. I can’t back them at 1-3 and while Southampton played well to pick a point at Chelsea last week should they be 1-2 to beat a battling Burnley.
The other matches look tough to call. Villa will have backers but Swansea will give them a game and best bet here could be both to score at 19-20 with William Hill.
Sunderland have Dick Advocaat in charge for the the first at West Ham so I wonder how the ex-Rangers and Holland boss will fare. He doesn’t suffer fools so players will know what’s to be expected but it’s asking a lot to make an immediate.
Today’s final game sees Stoke take on Crystal Palace and you have to fancy the home side to edge it at 23-20 with Coral.
Here is some team news that may help with your selections.
Aston Villa v Swansea
Alan Hutton will return to the Villa squad for the visit of Swansea after completing his ban but manager Tim Sherwood remains without skipper Ron Vlaar. The captain is still sidelined with a calf problem and is out along with Philippe Senderos and Kieran Richardson (both calf), Nathan Baker (knee) and Aly Cissokho (groin). Libor Kozak is training with the first team after recovering from a broken leg but is not match fit although Jack Grealish is back from suspension.
Central defender Federico Fernandez is available after missing Monday night’s 1-0 home defeat to Liverpool. Fernandez returned home to Argentina for what manager Garry Monk described as “family reasons” and he was replaced by Jordi Amat at the heart of the Swansea defence. But Fernandez has trained this week and is set to resume his partnership with skipper Ashley Williams, while Monk has no new injury worries for the Villa Park clash.
Last season: Swansea 4 Aston Villa 1; Aston Villa 1 Swansea 1.
Referee: Robert Madley.
Manchester City v West Brom
Man City will be without key midfielder Yaya Toure due to an Achilles injury. England midfielder James Milner (knee) is also set to miss out and left-back Aleksandar Kolarov is doubtful with a muscle problem. Left-back Gael Clichy is available again after being suspended for the Champions League defeat at Barcelona while fellow defenders Pablo Zabaleta and Eliaquim Mangala have recovered from minor injuries.
Midfielder Chris Brunt is banned for West Brom after accepting a FA charge for verbally abusing a match official. Claudio Yacob is also suspended as he serves the final game of a ban following his red card in the FA Cup defeat at Aston Villa. Ben Foster is out for at least a month with a knee injury suffered in the 1-0 win against Stoke last week, Brown Ideye and Saido Berahino continue to carry knocks but Victor Anichebe could return from a groin injury.
Last season: Man City 3 West Brom 1; West Brom 2 Man City 3.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.
Newcastle v Arsenal
Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini will sit out today’s match after failing in his red card-appeal. The Argentina international was sent off for a challenge on Aaron Lennon during Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Everton and will be suspended for three games, joining striker Papiss Cisse on the sidelines as he serves the second game of his seven-match ban. Head coach John Carver will have to contend with a crippling injury list which will deprive him of the services of defenders Steven Taylor (Achilles), Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara (both knee) plus midfielders Cheick Tiote (also knee), Mehdi Abeid (thigh), Siem de Jong (collapsed lung) and Rolando Aarons (thigh).
Midfielder Tomas Rosicky is expected to be back in the Arsenal squad after illness. The Gunners have reported no fresh injury concerns following the midweek Champions League tie in Monaco but manager Arsene Wenger will assess the fatigue levels of his players before deciding on any changes. Club captain Mikel Arteta (ankle), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring), Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Mathieu Debuchy (ankle) all continue their rehabilitation.
Last season: Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0; Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1.
Referee: Mike Jones.
Southampton v Burnley
Southampton are able to welcome back Eljero Elia. The Dutch winger has recovered from the ankle injury that saw him miss last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea. Graziano Pelle started that match from the bench and will be vying for a start today. Jay Rodriguez (knee) and Emmanuel Mayuka (groin) remain absent but Ronald Koeman has no fresh injury concerns.
Defender Stephen Ward is expected to be fit despite missing training with a niggle this week. Midfielder Matt Taylor requires another run-out with the Under-21s before he is deemed fit enough to return after an Achilles operation. Dean Marney and Kevin Long (both cruciate ligament injuries) remain long-term absentees.
Referee: Roger East.
Stoke v Crystal Palace
Stoke striker Jon Walters could feature despite suffering a fractured cheekbone last weekend. Walters had a routine operation to repair the damage and could play wearing a protective mask but he will be assessed first. Forward Victor Moses (leg) is unlikely to face his former club while defenders Erik Pieters (thigh) and Philipp Wollscheid (groin) will undergo fitness tests.
Crystal Palace will hand late fitness checks to wingers Jason Puncheon and Wilfried Zaha. Puncheon (dead leg) and Zaha (hip) both suffered knocks during last weekend’s 3-1 win over QPR. Skipper Mile Jedinak is still suspended and striker Marouane Chamakh remains sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Last season: Crystal Palace 1 Stoke 0; Stoke 2 Crystal Palace 1.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Tottenham v Leicester
Roberto Soldado is Tottenham’s only confirmed absentee. The Spain striker is suffering with a knee injury but it is unlikely he would have been in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting line-up given the form of new England call-up Harry Kane. Soldado’s absence means Emmanuel Adebayor is expected to be named among the substitutes and Pochettino may yet ring the changes after last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United.
Leicester have no new injury worries as they continue their battle for survival. Dean Hammond (calf) and Anthony Knockaert (personal reasons) are the only players out for boss Nigel Pearson. Hammond is back in training but not yet match-fit and Knockaert is in France to be with his ill father while Mark Schwarzer could keep fit-again Kasper Schmeichel on the bench.
Referee: Mike Dean.
West Ham v Sunderland
James Tomkins will miss the remainder of the season for West Ham after undergoing shoulder surgery while Winston Reid (hamstring) is a major doubt. Carl Jenkinson is back in contention having been ineligible against parent club Arsenal last weekend. Carlton Cole is fit again following a hamstring problem but fellow strikers Andy Carroll (knee) and Enner Valencia (toe) remain sidelined.
New Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat has revealed winger Adam Johnson is available “in principle”. The 27-year-old midfielder returned to training earlier this week after a club suspension that had been imposed following his arrest on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16 was lifted, although Advocaat was not planning to make a decision on his inclusion or otherwise until after his final session. Defender John O’Shea (knock) and Sebastian Larsson (ankle) are doubts while fellow midfielder Lee Cattermole completes a two-match ban and Will Buckley (knee) and Emanuele Giaccherini (ankle) remain on the sidelines.
Last season: Sunderland 1 West Ham 2; West Ham 0 Sunderland 0
Referee: Lee Mason.