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EPL Preview – GW 21

This game week sees the Premier League replay this campaigns opening day fixtures and could see the log lead change hands three times in as many days.

Soccer-Laduma previews this weeks main match with Manchester City visiting Newcastle and also has an eye on the other Champions League and title contenders.

Match of the Week

Newcastle v Manchester City

Newcastle are the latest side trying to stop an in-form and free-scoring Manchester City. The Magpies have suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League and even suffered three successive defeats in all competitions.

Alan Pardew is likely to recall Johan Cabaye and Tim Krul, who both missed out in the FA Cup last weekend, whilst Fabricio Coloccini (injury) and Mathieu Debuchy (suspension) will both miss the tie with the Citizens.

Newcastle’s recent record against City will give the Newcastle coach more headaches as his side have collected eight straight defeats and no wins over their last 14 top-flight meetings against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The City coach will be hoping his midfield motor, Yaya Toure, who was voted African Footballer of the Year on Thursday night and scored 10 league goals already, will be able to shake off an ankle problem.

Sergio Aguero has returned to practice, but the game will most likely be too early for the Argentine and Jack Rodwell as well as Stevan Joventic will also be sidelined.

The Citizens enter the game on the back of five successive Premier League wins, which saw them moving just one point behind log leaders, Arsenal. A run of 14 games without defeat in all competitions proves that this will be a hard nut to crack for Newcaslte.

The other ‘big guns’

Hull City v Chelsea

In the early game of Saturday, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are traveling to Hull City and with a victory they could climb into the Premier League’s top spot, temporarily at least.

The Tigers were beaten 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend, but have since proved their top-flight credentials, particularly based on their great home form with the notable highlight being a victory against Liverpool.

Hull have not beaten Chelsea in nine showdowns since October 1988 and the Blues will be hoping to continue this run despite missing Frank Lampard, Branislav Ivanovic and Marco van Ginkel due to injury.

In the second game slot of Saturday, Tottenham welcome Crystal Palace to White Hart Lane. The Lilywhites won 1-0 at Palace on the opening day of the season, but both sides enter the re-match with different managers.

Whilst Tony Pulis has stabilized Palace since taking over from Ian Holloway, Tim Sherwood has overseen a run of 10 points from four games, including a famous triumph away to Manchester United, before last week’s FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

Palace are unbeaten at White Hart Lane in the Premier League, with one win and three draws, and will be hoping to benefit from Spurs latest injury worries with Vertonghen, Kaboul and Paulinho definitely sidelined.

Manchester United welcome Swansea for the second time in seven days at Old Trafford in the late match of Saturday. They enter the game on the back three successive defeats which have put manager, David Moyes, under more pressure after a decent Christmas run in December.

The Red Devils will be without injured Wayne Rooney and the match probably also comes too early for their Dutch striker, Robin Van Persie, who scored two goals in United's 4-1 at Swansea on the opening day of the season.

Nani, Fellaini, Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Fabio are all also sidelined and Jonny Evans is at least doubtful after he was forced off at Sunderland in midweek, Swansea have failed to win their last six matches in the Premier League, but can enter the game with a similar team that won at Old Trafford just a week ago.  

Stoke v Liverpool

In the evening game of Sunday, Liverpool travel to Stoke and will be hoping to overcome both their recent record of three successive defeats and no win in five at the Britannia Stadium as well as their recent away form with only one win in seven away games.

Brendan Rodgers will miss vice-captain, Daniel Agger, but can welcome Mamdou Sakho back from injury. Steven Gerard has fully recovered from his hamstring problem and could start in midfield, whilst Daniel Sturridge is also expected to be on the bench.

The Reds will be hoping their Uruguay star, Luis Suarez, can continue his brilliant form with a goal every 68 minutes this season to repeat the victory over Stoke from the opening day of the season.

Aston Villa v Arsenal

Log leaders, Arsenal, finish the game week with a trip to Villa Park on Monday night. Since the 1-3 shock defeat to Aston Villa at the Emirates on the opening day of the season both sides fortunes have reversed somewhat and Arsenal, despite a number of injuries, are favourites to execute revenge.

Theo Walcott, Nicklas Bendtner and Kieran Gibbs are definitely sidelined, whilst Olivier Giroud should return to the staring XI and Aaron Ramsey could also return from his thigh injury.

The log leaders are unbeaten in 14 trips to Villa Park and Arsene Wenger will be hoping his side can continue this run with a victory on Monday to defend their pole position in the title race.

The other matches

Cardiff – West Ham

Everton – Norwich

Fulham – Sunderland

Southampton – West Brom

Will any of the league's top three struggle to win their away game this weekend, can Liverpool and Spurs stay in close range and will David Moyes side prevent their first fourth successive defeat since 1961?

Have your say in the comment section below.

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