Premier League preview

The Premier League returns after a busy midweek of European action, with three matches live on Sky Sports.

City go to QPR; Magpies host Toffees; Chelsea play Blackburn

The Premier League returns after a busy midweek of European action, and Manchester City have the opportunity to build on a 3-0 victory against Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League when they travel to the capital to face Queens Park Rangers. City are currently five points clear and go to Loftus Road on the back of five consecutive league wins, although QPR recently disposed of Chelsea on their home patch and will be fired up for the challenge. Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool all have home matches that they will expect to take maximum points from, while Chelsea face lowly Blackburn. Tottenham, along with City and Liverpool, are the in-form side in the top flight and they lock horns with London rivals Fulham on Sunday as Wolves play Wigan earlier in the afternoon - with both games shown live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1. Still basking in the glory of their derby triumph, Manchester City are sitting pretty at the top of the league table and appear to be getting stronger with each week. Having accustomed themselves to life in the Champions League, Roberto Mancini's charges have won every match since their defeat to Bayern Munich in September. It all sounds very ominous for Neil Warnock and QPR, who host City in Saturday's evening kick-off. However, Rangers are tough to beat at home.

Magpies flying high

The weekend's first game sees high-flying Newcastle play Everton at St James' Park, with the Magpies still on a remarkable run - third in the table and unbeaten this season. Few would have predicted such form at the beginning of the campaign, and praise must go to Alan Pardew and his players who have been the real surprise package this term. They beat Stoke in their back yard in front of the Sky cameras on Monday night and will be confident of a similar result against Everton, who, despite some impressive displays, have not been consistent enough and find themselves in 16th. Watch the action live on Sky Sports 2 and HD2 from 12.45pm. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson played Wayne Rooney in midfield during the Champions League meeting with Otelul Galati on Wednesday night, and while he described the attacker as United's 'best player', Rooney is likely to be back in attack for the clash with Sunderland at Old Trafford. Steve Bruce returns to the club where he made a name for himself as a player and he has seen an upturn in form for the Black Cats in recent games. A much-needed win over Bolton was followed by a draw against Aston Villa last weekend, although anything from this weekend's match will be seen as a bonus. Ferguson has been celebrating 25 years at United this week and a win would cap off the milestone in fitting fashion. Andre Villas-Boas is certainly making his mark at Chelsea, but the Blues' attempts to be more adventurous going forward have somewhat backfired of late. A 5-3 defeat to Arsenal last weekend was a stunning result which was in no small part down to some woeful defending from Chelsea. While the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand race row continues, with the Metropolitan Police having launched a formal investigation into the incident, Villas-Boas must focus his side on dragging themselves out of a mini-rut. They go to Blackburn, where Steve Kean appears to be leading a charmed life, and anything less than a win will increase the pressure on the Portuguese coach. Harry Redknapp underwent successful heart surgery in midweek and missed Tottenham's Europa League trip to Russia, where they fell to Rubin Kazan. His side face Fulham on Sunday afternoon and go into the London derby in fine form. The Cottagers also played on Thursday night against Wisla Krakow, but were at home and spared an arduous trip across Europe. It could be a match which reflects the strength in depth of both squads, with Fulham only having managed one home win in the league this season. Follow every kick live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1 from 4pm. Liverpool are unbeaten in seven matches and go into their clash with Swansea full of confidence. It was a victory at West Brom last time out for the Reds but they will once again be without their captain, Steven Gerrard, who faces a spell on the sidelines with an ankle infection. A win for Liverpool would see them, at least temporarily, move into fifth above Spurs as the league takes shape and front runners in the race for a top-four finish emerge. Swansea, meanwhile, are well placed in 10th and will be extremely pleased with their position in the table after 10 games.
Consistency
West Brom had not lost in four league games before last weekend's defeat to Roy Hodgson's former club, but more consistency is the goal for the hit-and-miss Baggies. A positive result will be hard to come by though, with Albion traveling to North London to play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have not been beaten since their derby reverse at the hands of Tottenham at the start of October and in Robin van Persie they have a striker in red-hot form. The Dutchman came off the bench in the 0-0 draw with Marseille in midweek but is sure to start on Saturday following his exploits during the victory over Chelsea. Is it too early to be talking of a relegation six-pointer? Wigan and Wolves lock horns at Molineux, live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1 from 1.30pm on Sunday and both sides are already in dire straits. The Latics are rock-bottom having only accrued five points so far this season, with attack their biggest problem. Roberto Martinez's men have managed a measly six goals this season and need to pick things up quickly if they are going to avoid another campaign in the dogfight. Wolves are on a terrible run and Mick McCarthy's team have not won a league game since 21 August. Aston Villa have not won in three but are sitting in mid-table. However, such is the nature of the Premier League that if they fail to win against Norwich, they will find themselves looking over their shoulder. The Canaries are currently one point above Villa and Paul Lambert's men will be galvanised by their demonstration of fighting spirit in the comeback draw against Blackburn last weekend. Bolton Wanderers are well and truly under the cosh after a woeful start. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for Owen Coyle last term but they have conceded a staggering 27 goals in the league this season and are second bottom with just six points. They host Stoke on Sunday and will hope to exploit some tired legs in the ranks of the Potters, with Tony Pulis and co playing in Israel against Maccabi Tel-Aviv on Thursday night.

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