21 December, 2012 - 15:13

Premier League Matchday 18 Preview

Premier League Matchday 18 Preview

Premier League Matchday 18 is short of high-profile clashes with the game Swansea City vs Man Utd arguably the only one with a must-see status. Nemanja Vidić against Michu will be the key matchup to watch at the Liberty Stadium – Man Utd experienced centre-back who has just returned into action following his long-term absence due to injury will face the best Premier League striker.

However Matchday 18 is crucially important from the tactical point of view. The results of the week-end fixtures will define whether Chelsea gets back into the title chase and whether Newcastle faces the relegation battle following the run of poor results.

Here are some of the key intrigues of the Matchday 18.

Chelsea vs Aston Villa

Sunday, December 23

Chelsea badly need a win to maintain their title chase

Chelsea return to the tough battle for the Premier League title after losing to Corinthians in the Club World Cup final. The London side lies at the third spot lagging behind the leaders Man City by 12 points. If the Blues lose to young and inconsistent Aston Villa and Man Utd beat Swansea City, then the Red Devils increase their lead to 15 points, the gap which is almost impossible to bridge.

Probable line-ups:

Chelsea: Cech; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill, Cole; Moses, Ramires, Lampard, Mata, Hazard; Torres

Aston Villa: Guzan; Lichaj, Baker, Clark, Herd, Lowton; Holman, Bannan, Westwood; Weiman, Benteke

Footballtop.com prediction: Chelsea 1-0 Aston Villa

Wigan Athletic vs Arsenal

Saturday, December 22

Dilemma for Wenger: either meet Theo Walcott’s demands or let the forward leave

The contract talks with Arsenal forward Theo Walcott have reportedly reached a stalemate, as the England international wants to play in the position of central striker, while Wenger prefers using the player as a right midfielder. Wenger moved Walcott to his preferred position during the Monday’s game against Reading and the forward has proved that he could play effectively up front scoring the goal. Wenger may be willing to test his young player in the position of forward again in the Saturday’s game against Wigan. Should Walcott be as good as in previous game, then the Gunners coach may be eager to meet his demands.

Probable line-ups, according to uk.eurosport.yahoo.com:

Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi; Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa, McCarthy; McArthur, Stam, Beausejour, Koné, Maloney; Di Santo

Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Vermaelen; Arteta, Wilshere, Cazorla; Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott

Footballtop.com prediction: Wigan 1-2 Arsenal

Newcastle vs QPR

Saturday, December 22

Six-pointer for Newcastle

After Alan Pardew has extended his contract with the club until 2020 Newcastle have lost seven of their last eight matches. Taking into account such a depressing losing streak, the internal disputes between the players and injury crisis Newcastle may soon face the relegation battle. Certainly it is difficult to imagine that Newcastle with their strong squad filled with quality players may be relegated or that the coach will be dismissed shortly after signing eight-year deal. And still one can perceive their clash against QPR as a potential six-pointer. Demba Ba, who set his sights on Arsenal move in January, has reportedly criticized the style of Newcastle play and some of his teammates in particular which has negatively influenced the dressing-room atmosphere. Newcastle have also lost the backbone of their team after Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye suffered injuries and is currently falling into pieces. That is why one should not be surprised if QPR secure the second consecutive victory. Sometimes Harry Redknapp’s appointment may do miracles as we know.

Probable line-ups, according to uk.eurosport.yahoo.com:

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Perch, Tioté, Anita, Gutiérrez; Ba, Cissé

QPR: Green; Onuoha, Nelsen, Hill, Traoré; Faurlin, M’Bia, Mackie, Taarabt, Wright-Phillips; Cissé

Footballtop.com prediction: Newcastle 1-1 QPR

Swansea vs Man Utd

Sunday, December 23

Man Utd finally have plenty of options at the back

Man Utd coach Sir Alex Ferguson may be rubbing his hands with the joy at the thought that all his first-choice defenders have recovered from long-term injuries. Having started the season with Michael Carrick as a centre-back currently Fergie has four defenders at his disposal competing for two centre-back positions (Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidić, and Phil Jones). Although the fans will always remember the defensive pairing Ferdinand-Vidić, their best years are behind them. Last season that same Jonny Evans was as good as his veteran teammates. And given their lack of pace it is likely that soon Fergie will have to decide whom he drops on the bench in order to cope with the speedy oppositions’ forwards.

Probable line-ups, according to uk.eurosport.yahoo.com:

Swansea: Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies; Britton, Ki, Dyer, de Guzman, Routledge; Michu,

Man Utd: De Gea; Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Valencia, Young, Rooney; Van Persie

Footballtop.com prediction: Swansea 1-3 Man Utd

Liverpoool vs Fulham

Saturday December 22

Brendan Rodgers to shake up his first team

The top-four finish is still within Liverpool’s grasp despite the disappointing start of the season. And it seemed that the Reds could have secured their third win in a row against Aston Villa last week. However Benteke’s two goals ruined the hopes of Liverpool fans. Brendan Rodgers is likely to make some changes to his side for the clash against Fulham (for example he may give a rest to his young midfielder Raheem Sterling) and hopefully these changes will take effect and will give Liverpool new lease of life.

Probable line-ups, according to uk.eurosport.yahoo.com:

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Škrtel, Agger, Enrique; Gerrard, Lucas, Allen, Suso, Downing; Suarez

Fulham: Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Baird, Karagounis, Duff; Berbatov, Kacaniklic, Rodallega

Footballtop.com prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Fulham

Photo: sportinglife.com, mirror.co.uk

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Author: Basil Naumov

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