Premier League Preview : Leicester, Chelsea in match of the weekend, United hope to bounce back


James McCarthy faces a fitness test ahead of Everton’s trip to Norwich for Saturday’s early kick-off as the Blues look to extend their unbeaten run to eight games.

The current seven-game sequence began with a draw against the Canaries at Goodison Park in the Capital One Cup in late October, with Roberto Martinez’s side progressing on penalties.

However, Norwich can take encouragement from the fact that Everton’s last away win in the league came back in September as they look to record a first win in four.

Alex Neil’s side have also avoided defeat in their last two games at Carrow Road, beating Swansea at the beginning of November before coming from behind to draw with Arsenal in their most recent home match.

In order to make it three without defeat on home soil though, Norwich will have to keep a close eye on the in-form Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker has scored in each of his last six appearances for Everton.

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A draw at Everton on Monday saw the Eagles rise to sixth, three points behind Tottenham in fifth and six adrift of the Champions League places.

Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman’s Saints have gone four games without a win, losing three on the spin before a home draw with struggling Aston Villa last time out.

Southampton did the double over Palace last season with Sadio Mane, Ryan Bertrand and Toby Alderweireld on target in a 3-1 away win last Boxing Day.

A repeat would see the south coast side leapfrog Alan Pardew’s side and likely put them back in the top half of the table.

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The Swans’ poor run of form cost Monk his job on Wednesday, with coaches Pep Clotet, James Beattie and Kristian O’Leary following him out of the door.

A number of names have been linked with the vacant managerial position, but it will be first-team coach Alan Curtis in the dugout this weekend as the Swans look to snap a five-match winless run.

They start the weekend 15th in the table, having won just one of their last 12 games in all competitions.

Man City suffered a surprise defeat at Stoke in their last league outing but beat Borussia Monchengladbach 4-2 on Tuesday to finish top of their Champions League group.

They would go top of the Premier League with victory as Arsenal and Leicester play on Sunday and Monday respectively.

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The striker has scored in five of his last six Premier League appearances, including the last four in a row, as the Hornets have won four of their last six matches.

They are the best-placed of the three newly-promoted sides but manager Quique Sanchez Flores said it is important they remain humble and do not lose sight of their main aim of staying in the division.

Sunderland have given their chances of survival a boost in recent weeks with wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.Although they were beaten last time out at Arsenal, manager Sam Allardyce said the performance was the best since he was appointed in early October.

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The Hammers have lost a number of first-team players to injuries in recent weeks, with defender Winston Reid and winger Victor Moses the latest to be sidelined.

They have not won a match since Dimitri Payet suffered an ankle problem against Everton and they are in danger of falling away from the top six.

While the Hammers have not won in the last five, Stoke have won four of their last five in all competitions.

After their impressive victory over Manchester City last weekend they were dubbed ‘Stokealona’ by Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia in recognition of the entertaining football they produced.

They would move above the Hammers in the table if they win at Upton Park.

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The newly-promoted Cherries stunned Premier League champions Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge last weekend.

It was their first win since September 19 and manager Eddie Howe says they will need to perform even better if they are to beat United.

Louis van Gaal’s side suffered elimination from the Champions League in midweek after losing 3-2 to Wolfsburg.

They will now turn their attentions to the Premier League before competing in the Europa League in February.

United have drawn their last two league matches and are three points behind leaders Leicester.

[PHOTO]http://img.modernghana.com/images/content/ Sunday knowing victory over Remi Garde’s side will put them top of the Premier League table, for 24 hours at least.

With league leaders Leicester not playing until Monday, the Gunners can move to the summit with victory over bottom club Aston Villa.

Arsene Wenger’s side should also be in high spirits having secured the convincing win needed away at Olympiakos to ensure their qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Villa, meanwhile, have picked up just two points in four games since Garde took over, drawing at home to Manchester City and away at Southampton.

The Villans are marooned at the foot of the table with just six points and find themselves seven points from safety as the season nears its halfway point.

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Jurgen Klopp will hope that the Brazilian can provide the creativity needed to get his Liverpool team scoring again after their failure to find the net in their last two games.

Defeat at Newcastle last weekend saw the Reds miss the chance to move to within three points of the Champions League places but they could climb as high as sixth with a win against the Baggies.

However, defeat could see them slip into the bottom half and see West Brom jump to within a point of the Merseysiders.

Tony Pulis’ team are unbeaten in three, beating Arsenal at The Hawthorns before drawing their last two 1-1 against West Ham and Tottenham.

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Mauricio Pochettino’s side thumped Monaco 4-1 in the Europa League on Thursday to seal top spot in Group J and confirm their place in the seeded pot for Monday’s round of 32 draw.

In the Premier League, Spurs, who are three points off fourth spot, are unbeaten since the opening day of the season but will be hoping to get back to winning ways after back-to-back draws against Chelsea and West Brom.

Newcastle got back on track last weekend with a 2-0 victory over Liverpool at St James’ Park.

However, Steve McClaren’s side will now be looking to improve an away record which has seen them win just once in seven matches on the road this season.

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Ranieri spent four years at Stamford Bridge between 2000 and 2004 but his focus now is Leicester, who are two points clear of Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table after 15 games.

Leicester, who saw Ranieri and Jamie Vardy named manager and Player of the Month for Novemeber respectively, are on an eight game unbeaten run in the league and will be hoping to extend that against a Chelsea side that lost to Bournemouth last weekend.

The Blues recovered in midweek to record a 2-0 victory over Porto in the Champions League to book their place as group winners in the last 16.

However, focus now returns to the Premier League where Chelsea have picked up just one win in their last six matches and are without victory in their last five games away from home.

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