Seven Barclays Premier League football fixtures are scheduled for the evening of Wednesday 5th January 2011, including a huge 2nd v 3rd fixture between Arsenal and Manchester City.
Arsenal v Man City – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
Whichever team wins this match tonight will go second in the table, and the momentum from this victory could well push either team very close to the Barclays Premier League crown this term.
Man City will be without Balotelli and Silva, who both have knee injuries, while Arsenal have the same selection choice available to them as in the last two matches.
With home advantage, and having piled on plenty of goals in recent games, City have perhaps got the slight edge here, but Arsenal have been producing some good form of their own, in particular away from home. There will be plenty of needle here with three ex-Arsenal men in the City squad too.
A fascinating and difficult to predict encounter awaits.
Aston Villa v Sunderland – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
Villa come into this match having been routed 4-0 by Man City and this game kicks off with Sunderland and Villa sitting in the league each where the other might have expected to be pre-season. As it is, Sunderland are in 6th in the league, while Villa languish in 17th, just a point ahead of the drop zone.
Sunderland have three front-men who are enjoying their football in Bent, Gyan and Wellbeck, so they seem likelt to trouble the Villa defence which leaked goals last week. Likewise, Villa are better going forward with pace and skill to burn up top. This game should see some goals, at either end.
Newcastle v West Ham – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
Newcastle are once again without top scorer Andy Carroll and experienced defender Sol Campbell, which will give West Ham hope that they can make the long journey to Newcastle and return with points. Despite winning at Wolves last week, last night’s wins for Fulham and Birmingham mean that the Hammers are back in the bottom three – they need a point or more to help their recovery effort tonight.
Newcastle will be looking for a win to push closer to top than bottom but, as evidenced at home to Wigan last time, they look significantly less of a threat without Carroll. Much will depend upon West Ham’s ability to find the net tonight as a goal should see them return with at least a point.
Wolverhampton v Chelsea – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
Wolves, at bottom of the league, are desperate for a win, so it is perhaps not a good time to meet Champions, Chelsea, who are in a similar position, needing a win to regain some ground on those around them at the top of the table, and also to prevent any further will-they-won’t-they qualification jitters over the UEFA Champions League which are beginning to surface now they sit outside the top four.
Wolves long term injury worries continue tonight, but Craddock and Karl Henry might be fit to play some part this weekend. Tonight will be a question of getting any point they can for Wolves, while Chelsea must try to stamp early authority on this match by scoring in the first half: they have looked nervy at times, of late, and the longer this one goes without a lead, the more nervous they could become.
Blackburn v Liverpool – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00
Liverpool (9th) and Blackburn (12th) are level on points in the table, so this match must be considered a must-win for both teams. Liverpool in particular will be feeling the pressure, not least with continued speculation over the future of manager Roy Hodgson.
Blackburn’s injury worries persist and tonight they will miss Nikola Kalinic who is suspended, and Brett Emerton who is away with Australia. Steven Gerrard returns for Liverpool, which could provide all the impetus they require to lift this league match.
Bolton v Wigan – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00
Bolton will want a win to regain some ground on the Euro places they occupied for a time, while Wigan need a point or better to get themselves away from the bottom three.
Both Bolton and Wigan have a lengthy list of absentees for this match, but current form suggests that Bolton will win this match with a little in hand, particularly given Charles N’Zogbia – Wigan’s key man this season – ongoing suspension for his head-butt over the Christmas period.
Everton v Tottenham – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00
Spurs have a chance to consolidate their place within the top four of the league tonight as they travel to Everton sitting fourth in the league. Everton, on the other hand, are perilously close to the foot of the table – too close for comfort, at two points from relegation – so they will be looking for home points tonight.
Everton’s task is made much more difficult by Tim Cahill’s absence – he has joined Australia for the Asian Cup – and defender Phil Jagielka is also missing following an injury he picked up on the weekend. Tottenham are without Defoe and Younes Kaboul who are both suspended, and the second half of their much improved central defensive pairing, William Gallas, will be a big miss for them – he picked up an injury against Fulham.
Spurs still have plenty of attacking options available to them and, with Everton missing their best defender and their talisman, have an excellent opportunity for three away points today. Everton are often best with the odds stacked against them, however, so don’t discount them just yet.
Barclays Premier League Fixtures – Wednesday 5th January 2011
- Arsenal v Man City – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
- Aston Villa v Sunderland – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
- Newcastle v West Ham – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
- Wolverhampton v Chelsea – Kick-Off (GMT) 19:45
- Blackburn v Liverpool – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00
- Bolton v Wigan – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00
- Everton v Tottenham – Kick-Off (GMT) 20:00