Seven Barclays Premier League 2011/12 matches are scheduled to take place on the afternoon of Saturday 4th February 2012.
Arsenal v Blackburn – Kick-Off (GMT) 13:00
The weekend begins with the early kick-off match between two clubs who are arguably having their worst season for a long time: Arsenal v Blackburn Rovers.
Arsenal find themselves well out of the current running for a top four finish, in 7th place. The Gunners need a win to keep tabs on Liverpool, Newcastle and Chelsea who occupy the positions directly above them, and stand between Arsenal and the UEFA Champions League for 2012/13.
Blackburn, on the other hand, have every bit as much of a financial and footballing imperative to perform: they need a win to get out of the relegation zone. In fact, even a win might not be enough, but any point will do for Rovers, who are deep in a scrap.
Blackburn’s recent performances have often been of sufficient quality to gain points, yet they have tended – save one exception which proves the rule at Old Trafford – to miss out of late. Arsenal, too, have been short of goals recently, despite having played well. The stage is set for one of these two to use this match as a catalyst to pull themselves out of a funk. Chances are, it will be Arsenal who do just that, but, the way 2011/12 is shaping up, it would perhaps be no surprise if the opposite were to come true.
Norwich v Bolton – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
Norwich City may have been brought beck down to earth a little by Sunderland in midweek, as the Black Cats inflicted a 3-0 defeat onto the Premier League newcomers at the Stadium of Light in midweek, and they may find things every bit as tough against Owen Coyle’s Bolton Wanderers, who travel to Carrow Road needing points to stay out of the bottom three they occupied until recently.
Norwich could yet get sucked into a relegation scrap, so a result here is important to keep attention on the top half, rather than the bottom, of the table.
QPR v Wolves – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
QPR and Wolves are another pair of teams who need points to stay afloat, though, for these two, the situation is somewhat more desperate: Wolverhampton Wanderers are currently in the drop zone, while Queens Park Rangers are just three points above. The gap between QPR and Wolves is three points, too, meaning a win is vital for either side in this match.
Both teams gained players in the transfer window – QPR’s Mark Hughes bought attacking verve and experience; Mick McCarthy bolstered his defence – making this match an intriguing prospect all the more. There will likely be goals, and entertainment looks to be on the cards at Loftus Road, though picking a winner in advance is a less simple task.
Stoke v Sunderland – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
Stoke City and Sunderland are clubs who are heading in opposite directions since the start of the season. Sunderland have shot back to form since the pre-Christmas arrival of the mercurial Martin O’Neill, while Stoke started brightly this term, but have hit a flat spot of late, staying in 8th spot for a couple of months.
Sunderland grabbed that 8th position from Stoke in midweek, and will hold onto it this weekend if they can avoid defeat at the Brittania Stadium: which is no mean feat.
Another six pointer which may well have a real league table impact come the season’s end.
West Brom v Swansea – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
The afternoon of six point matches continues in the Midlands, where West Brom (15th) entertain Swansea City (14th) with each side keen to push away from the bottom three.
Roy Hodgson’s men are difficult to break down, and Swansea have been poor enough away from home to expect that the best the Swans will target is a point. Form would suggest a West Brom home win, but Swansea have seemed best when entirely unfancied this season, so don’t discount them, either.
Wigan v Everton – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
Bottom club Wigan have been a little luckless this season, and so it would seem again this weekend, as they meet an Everton side who had shown very little by way of form before upsetting league leaders, Manchester City earlier this week.
If the Toffees can carry through the momentum gained from that victory, the Latics may be in for yet another tough day at the office.
That said, Wigan have shown in fits and starts that they can play good football, and Everton have sometimes been guilty of the opposite, so Wigan may be good enough to gain at least a point form this home fixture. As they begin this match three points adrift at the foot of the table, they’ll need to take something from this match if they are to get within a win of safety.
Man City v Fulham – Kick-Off (GMT) 17:30
Saturday’s final fixture sees league leaders, Manchester City, looking to get over their current mini-blip in form against the forward-light Fulham.
Fulham’s Andy Johnson is out for around a week through injury, and the London team have just sold Bobby Zamora to QPR, meaning they may well start with Clint Dempsey up front again.
Man City, as ever, have plenty of options, but have looked to lack the magic formula since Yaya Toure has been away on Africa Cup of Nations duty – they are due a big performance from a number of players.
A home win looks on the cards, but both Fulham and Man City are capable of bagging goals in multiples when in the mood in the Premier League this season, which might mean that there could spell some early evening entertainment from this late kick-off fixture.
Barclays Premier League 2011/12 Fixtures, Saturday 4 February 2012
- Arsenal v Blackburn – Kick-Off (GMT) 13:00
- Norwich v Bolton – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
- QPR v Wolves – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
- Stoke v Sunderland – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
- West Brom v Swansea – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
- Wigan v Everton – Kick-Off (GMT) 15:00
- Man City v Fulham – Kick-Off (GMT) 17:30