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Premier League preview

After a turbulent week in English football, domestic matters return to the fore in the Premier League.

United host Liverpool; City go to Villa; Spurs face Newcastle

After a turbulent week in English football, domestic matters return to the fore in the Premier League. Fabio Capello will certainly not be in attendance at any top-flight ground this weekend, and he could miss out on a cracker at Old Trafford where rivals Manchester United and Liverpool meet once again. Luis Suarez is sure to receive a hostile reception as the Uruguayan has now served his eight-match suspension for racially abusing United's Patrice Evra back in October. United currently sit second in the table, two points behind Manchester City who travel to Aston Villa for the final game of the weekend on Sunday afternoon. Elsewhere, Harry Redknapp will finally be able to focus on football matters after being found not guilty of tax evasion on Wednesday - Tottenham have a tricky tie against Newcastle. Manchester United and Liverpool have always enjoyed a fierce rivalry, but this season it has taken on a different, and perhaps more sinister, dimension. Luis Suarez's suspension for racially abusing Evra has added to the already tense relationship between the two North-West clubs. Liverpool's steadfast defence of the Uruguayan has drawn criticism from many quarters with manager Kenny Dalglish most recently declaring, on the forward's return, that he should never have been absent in the first place. Dalglish got the better of Sir Alex Ferguson when these sides met in the FA Cup a few weeks ago, but with United looking to gun down Manchester City at the top of the table, revenge could be on the cards. Follow the action live on Sky Sports HD2 from 12.45pm on Saturday.


A two-point lead at the summit is not something to be scoffed at with three months of the campaign left to play. That is the advantage Manchester City have over United ahead of a potentially tricky trip to Aston Villa. Roberto Mancini's men bounced back from a minor blip with a comfortable victory over Fulham last time out and will be looking to get a run of results going in the Midlands. Since Villa's impressive victory over Chelsea on New Year's Eve Alex McLeish's side have not been able to find a consistent run of form. A defeat to Newcastle was preceded by a draw against QPR and McLeish will be desperate for a positive result to boost morale. Watch this one live on Sky Sports HD1 from 4pm on Sunday. What a week it has been for Harry Redknapp. Facing a charge of tax evasion at Southwark Crown Court, Redknapp and Milan Mandaric were cleared on Wednesday - the same day that Fabio Capello stepped down from his position of England coach following a row with the FA regarding John Terry's captaincy. Redknapp is widely expected to succeed Capello but, for the time being, Stuart Pearce has been placed in caretaker charge of the Three Lions. Tottenham will not give up their manager without a fight and this weekend they face Newcastle, who sit fifth in the standings. Alan Pardew, who has ruled himself out of the England running, will be looking for his Senegalese strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to produce some more magic. Wigan Athletic are in desperate need of a result with the Latics currently rock bottom of the Premier League and five points adrift of safety. They were held at home by Everton in their last outing and a trip to fellow strugglers Bolton must be seen as an opportunity to drag themselves back into contention. Owen Coyle's side produced a lacklustre display at Norwich and need another spark to reignite their attempts to pull clear of the bottom three. The battle to avoid relegation this season is certainly bubbling nicely and there is a six-pointer in store when Black Country rivals Wolves and West Brom lock horns at Molineux. Wolves had been on a poor run but showed great resolve to fight back from a goal down and earn a 2-1 victory at QPR. Mick McCarthy needed that win after Steve Morgan had given the side a dressing down following the home capitulation against Liverpool. The Baggies, meanwhile, were on the receiving end of such a comeback against Swansea and Roy Hodgson will know his side are not immune from dropping into the dogfight. Follow the action on Sky Sports HD1 from 1.30pm on Sunday. Only three points separate Blackburn Rovers and QPR ahead of their contest at Ewood Park. Rangers were recently scuppered by Wolves while Rovers were hammered 7-1 by Arsenal. It was a miserable afternoon for Steve Kean at the Emirates and he will be hoping for a response from his players. Kean expects wantaway captain Chris Samba to play for the club again despite being injured for Saturday's game, while QPR's Djibril Cisse will serve a three-match suspension after grabbing Roger Johnson by the throat. A big game this one, with things extremely tight at the wrong end of the table. Arsenal's supporters were beginning to get restless once again before that demolition of Blackburn but the remarkable scoreline ensured any rumours of black bin liners on seats were well and truly rubbished. Arsene Wenger takes his team to the Stadium of Light where Sunderland lie in wait. Martin O'Neill's rejuvenated side overcame North East rivals Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in midweek, although Stephane Sessegnon's winner came in extra time so there may be a few tired legs that the Gunners can possibly exploit.
Quite what Andre Villas-Boas said to his players after the 3-3 draw with Manchester United last weekend is a mystery, but he cannot have been best pleased having watched Chelsea squander a 3-0 lead in the second half at Stamford Bridge. It leaves the Blues in fourth place - one point ahead of Newcastle and three above Arsenal. Everton are sitting in mid-table and will stay there if their inconsistent play continues, although David Moyes' side are traditionally strong on the back stretch and will want to push into the top half. A win for Fulham over Stoke would see them leapfrog the Potters. Martin Jol watched his side fall at Manchester City but a dubious early penalty decision against the West Londoners killed any hope they had of snatching a result at the Etihad Stadium. You just do not know which Fulham are going to turn up this season, such has been the marked contrast in certain games. Stoke will be hoping the Cottagers have an off day but will themselves be without the suspended Robert Huth, whose appeal against his recent red card was rejected. Finally, two of last season's promoted sides will be reunited at the Liberty Stadium when Swansea host Norwich. Both these teams have performed remarkably well this term following their elevation from the Championship and have gone about crafting their own individual styles. Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert have won plaudits for the way they have approached life in the top fight, but plaudits mean little - points are the key.

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