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Weekend Premiership Preview: 8 December 2012

It is the second weekend of Premier League football in December- and after last weekend's shocking results, what can we expect from the fixtures on Saturday and Sunday?

The two Manchester sides seem to be running away from the pack, even in this early stage of the season- Manchester United are 10 points ahead of Chelsea, Spurs and West Brom. There are seven sides all within 4 points of eachother from 3rd position to 9th, meaning this weekend's games are of the utmost importance. Here's all the information about the upcoming games.

Saturday 8 December

Arsenal v West Brom- Both teams have been struggling in recent weeks- Arsenal have not won in five games, whilst the Baggies' form has stumbled with two defeats on the bounce. The Gunners will be missing Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski. Steve Clarke has no new injury dilemmas to deal with, but his keeper Ben Foster will still be unavailable.

Aston Villa v Stoke- Peter Crouch, who is their top-scorer this season, will make his return for Stoke. Villa are missing Richard Dunne, Ron Vlaar and Charles N'Zogbia. Stoke have not scored at Villa Park for 24 years but will be looking to capitalize on their good form and put an end to that drought.

Southampton v Reading- A crucial game in both's relegation battle. Victory for Reading will mean that they climb above their hosts, but if Southampton win they could push themselves out of the drop zone. Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak is a doubt- whilst Brian McDermott is refusing to set a date for goalkeeper Alex McCarthy's return.

Sunderland v Chelsea- This may be the best time for Martin O'Neill's side to face The Blues, following the London clubs bad run of form in the League. Although they are not set to start the game, John Terry and Frank Lampard are expected to make it to the bench. Sunderland will be missing front man Steven Fletcher.

Swansea v Norwich- The two sides were promoted together in 2011. Michael Laudrup will not rush to bring back keeper Michel Vorm and Pablo Hernandez to the starting XI- as the Welsh club look to continue with their impressive form. Norwich will miss John Ruddy, Michael Turner and Harry Kane.

Wigan v QPR- 'Arry's men are still searching for their first league win this season, whilst Wigan are recovering from a 3 - 0 thrashing by The Toon earlier this week. Rob Green is expected to continue in goal in place of an injured Julio Cesar. Roberto Martinez has to deal with a defensive mini-crisis due to Gary Caldwell and Maynor Figueroa's injuries.

Sunday 9 December

Manchester City v Manchester United- If the title has already become a two-horse race, this match will give one stallion the opportunity to nudge ahead of their opponent. It is the red half of Manchester that has to deal with the weakened side- Cleverly joins Anderson, Valencia and Nani on the injury list. However, City playmaker David Silva is rumoured to be struggling with fitness.

Everton v Tottenham-With only three points between the two teams, this could be crucial in the battle for fourth place. David Moyes has no fresh injury worries and could name the same side which earned a draw at the Etihad last Saturday. Conversely, Andre Villas-Boas will be without Gareth Bale, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Scott Parker.

West Ham v Liverpool- The Hammers have impressed so far this season, which was summed up by last Saturday's victory over Chelsea. The Londoners face a weakened Liverpool side, who are without Luis Saurez due to suspension. This is the first time Liverpool boss faces West Ham in his managerial career.

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