Premier League preview

Arsenal have the opportunity to open up an eight-point lead over Manchester United in the Premier League title race.

With the Gunners travelling to Birmingham for Saturday's early kick-off, live on Sky Sports 1, and United's trip to Newcastle not kicking-off until 5.15pm, Arsene Wenger's men could strike an important psychological blow over their rivals.

And they are certainly in need of redressing the balance, having been on the wrong end of a 4-0 thumping at Old Trafford in last weekend's FA Cup fourth round meeting.

Alex McLeish's men have already frustrated Arsenal once this season, securing a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium, and are in desperate need of the points as they are only out of the drop zone on goal difference.

United, meanwhile, travel to the North East expecting a sterner test than in their last meeting with the Magpies.


Sir Alex Ferguson's side romped to a 6-0 win over the hapless Toon Army at Old Trafford last month prior to Kevin Keegan's return as manager.

Keegan is yet to taste victory in his second spell at the helm and witnessed a worrying second-half capitulation at Aston Villa last time out.

Liverpool swiftly brushed aside the criticism from their FA Cup humbling at the hands of Barnsley with a memorable 2-0 triumph over 10-man Internazionale.

Rafa Benitez urgently needs his players to transfer their European form to the domestic scene with Middlesbrough the next visitors to Anfield.

The relegation battle remains full of tension, with just 10 points between 12th-placed Boro and second from bottom Fulham.


Derby boss Paul Jewell makes an emotional return to the JJB Stadium with Wigan scrapping for survival and The Rams already doomed to the drop.

Fellow strugglers Fulham have a London derby to look forward to as they welcome inconsistent West Ham to Craven Cottage.

Sunderland, somehow, have conspired to be even more hapless than Derby on the road and make the testing trip to Fratton Park to tackle European hopefuls Portsmouth.

Seven consecutive defeats have sent Reading plunging into the bottom three, and they must quickly stop the rot which has set in as Aston Villa travel to the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.

The Lancashire derby at Ewood Park promises to be a heated affair, with Blackburn having not tasted victory since their 2-1 triumph over Bolton in the reverse fixture back in January.

Gary Megson's men will be determined to redress the balance, with local pride at stake alongside three precious Premier League points.

Click on the links below for individual previews

Birmingham v Arsenal

Emmanuel Adebayor has scored on both his appearances against Birmingham and the Togolese striker has netted five goals in his last three away league games. Adebayor has scored in seven consecutive Premier League games and is now second only to Ruud van Nistelrooy, who netted in 10 in a row. The Blues have only scored in two out of nine games against Arsenal, but they earned points in both - one win and a draw.

Fulham v West Ham

Jimmy Bullard has started three home games for Fulham and scored in all of them. The Hammers are unbeaten in their last eight top-flight games against the Cottagers, winning five. Fulham have lost their last four London derbies and taken just two points from the last 24 available in capital clashes.

Liverpool v Middlesbrough

Boro have lost only one of their last nine Premier League home games against Liverpool. Fernando Torres has scored 10 goals in 12 league appearances at Anfield this season, with one of his away goals coming against Boro at the Riverside. The last 11 meetings between Liverpool and Boro in all competitions have seen either two goals scored (eight times) or none (three times). Five have ended as 2-0 home wins, three as 1-1 draws and three as 0-0

Portsmouth v Sunderland

There have only been eight goals scored in the last eight league games at Fratton Park. Pompey have won only one of their last eight Premier League homes games, 3-1 against bottom club Derby. Sunderland have only taken two points out of a possible 39 on the road this season and have lost the last nine in a row. Portsmouth have dropped only two points from winning positions this season - fewer than any other team.

Wigan v Derby

Derby have taken just three from a possible 39 points away from home this season. Wigan have scored just one goal in each of their last four home games, winning two 1-0 and losing two 2-1. Derby have scored in four of six away games under Paul Jewell after failing to find the net in their first seven road trips but have gone 16 Premier League games without a clean sheet and 20 without a win.

Newcastle v Manchester United

Manchester United are unbeaten in their last 12 league games against Newcastle United. Wayne Rooney has scored seven Premier League goals against Newcastle - more than against any other opponent. All four of Michael Owen's Premier League goals this season have been headers. The Magpies have kept just two clean sheets in their last 22 league games.

Reading v Aston Villa

Aston Villa have scored in their last 21 Premier League games - the longest current run of consecutive scoring. Reading have gone 17 games without a clean sheet - the longest current run of any team. Reading have lost their last seven Premier League games in a row and failed to score in the last four.

Blackburn v Bolton

None of the last 15 league meetings between Blackburn and Bolton has ended as a home win and the last three have all been away wins. There have been just five goals scored in the last five Premier League games played at Ewood Park. There have only been two goals scored in the last three meetings between Blackburn and Bolton at Ewood Park.