Premier League previews: Who will win today’s games and why

Aston Villa or Arsenal? Man United or QPR? Sunderland or high-flying West Brom? So many choices.

All games kick off at 3pm unless stated.

Sunderland v West Brom (12.45pm)

TV: Sky Sports 2

(The Baggies will be without Ben Foster – David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Betting: Home (7/5), Draw (9/4), Away (2/1)

West Brom are now riding high in fourth place, with Irish striker Shane Long among their best players amid a fantastic start to the season. However, while they have a near-perfect record at home in the league, their away form is less than impressive, as they’ve won only one of their five matches on their travels to date this season.

However, on a more positive note, the Baggies are unbeaten in their last five matches against the Black Cats, winning four.

Sunderland, while they’ve endured a tumultuous start to their campaign, received a confidence boost when they defeated Fulham last week.

Consequently, it would be no huge surprise if this game ended in a draw, despite the sides’ contrasting positions at opposite ends of the table.

Injured: West Brom – Ben Foster, Youssouf Mulumbu.

The verdict: Draw

Everton v Norwich

(Wes Hoolahan put in a superb performance against Man United last week – PA Wire/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: Home (8/15), Draw (3/1), Away (11/2)

This is a particularly intriguing affair.

You could argue that these two teams have been antithesis of one another in terms of form – Norwich started the season terribly yet have come good in recent matches, while Everton have done more or less the exact opposite, only winning one of their last four games.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Irish international Seamus Coleman starts. Having been so good for Ireland against Greece, he subsequently delivered a wretched performance against Reading last weekend, and was ultimately at fault for the two decisive goals that his side conceded.

Conversely, Wes Hoolahan built on his recent eye-catching display for Ireland, dictating the play and looking the best player on the field as Norwich unexpectedly trumped Man United.

Yet recent form notwithstanding, Everton are normally very solid at home, whereas Norwich have yet to win on their travels this season, so expect the former side to prevail.

Suspended: Everton – Marouane Fellaini

Injured: Everton – Phil Neville

Doubtful: Everton – Tony Hibbert, Kevin Mirallas and Darren Gibson. Norwich – John Ruddy and Michael Turner.

The verdict: Everton

Manchester United v QPR

(Mark Hughes has been sacked following QPR’s poor start to the season – Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

TV: Setanta Ireland

Betting: Home (1/5), Draw (11/2), Away (2/1).

If ever a game can be referred to as a nailed-on three-pointer, this one’s it.

United, despite losing to Norwich last week, have barely put a foot wrong at home all season.

QPR’s dismal form, meanwhile, led to manager Mark Hughes being sacked yesterday.

The expected appointment of Harry Redknapp should give the club a boost, though it’ll hardly be anywhere near enough for them to topple a vastly superior United side, given their recent struggles.

Moreover, QPR have never beaten United in the Premier League – and don’t expect that to change tomorrow.

Injured: Man United – Jonny Evans. QPR – Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson.

Doubtful: QPR – Park Ji-sung.

Ineligible: QPR – Fabio.

The verdict: United win

Stoke City v Fulham

(Dimitar Berbatov has been Fulham’s main attacking threat this season – Sean Dempsey/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: Home (6/5), Draw (23/10), Away (23/10).

A battle between two of the league’s perennial overachievers, Stoke have had the inferior start to the season out of the two, but Fulham suffered a somewhat unexpected loss to Sunderland last Sunday.

In addition, Fulham will have to cope with the loss of key defender Brede Hangeland, who was sent off in the aforementioned fixture, and have failed to win their last four league games, despite a terrific start to the campaign.

Stoke, for whom Irish striker Jon Waters is likely to make his 350th league appearance, are unbeaten at home in their last 12 matches, though they’ve drawn seven of those games.

Therefore, with Stoke’s record as draw specialists in mind, and Fulham having the best player of the two sides in Dimitar Berbatov,  a draw seems the most likely outcome.

Doubtful: Stoke – Andy Wilkinson. Fulham – Alex Kacaniklic, Bryan Ruiz, Kieran Richardson and Mickael Tavares.

Injured: Stoke – Michael Owen.

Suspended: Fulham – Brede Hangeland.

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The verdict: Draw

Wigan v Reading

(Wigan have been inconsistent so far this season – Jon Buckle/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

Betting: Home (19/20), Draw (12/5), Away (3/1).

Wigan are possibly the most unpredictable side in the Premier League, losing at home to Fulham one week, and beating Spurs away another.

They face a key fixture against Reading today, as both sides are currently hovering just above the relegation zone.

The hosts go into this game in bad form, having lost their past two league matches, while Reading are unbeaten in four.

Moreover, Roberto Martinez’s men have a minor injury crisis to contend with, and Ben Watson, Gary Caldwell and James McArthur will be among those who are unavailable for selection.

Nevertheless, they have more class than their opponents, and so should triumph, provided the Wigan that beat Tottenham turns up, rather than the side that lost to Sunderland.

Injured: Wigan – Ben Watson, Gary Caldwell, James McArthur, Albert Crusat and Antolin Alcaraz. Reading – Danny Guthrie, Jem Karacan and Alex McCarthy.

Doubtful: Wigan – Ryo Miyaichi and Franco Di Santo. Reading – Jimmy Kebe.

The verdict: Wigan

Aston Villa v Arsenal (5.30pm)

(Ireland international Richard Dunne is still out for Villa – David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

Betting: Home (15/4), Draw (13/5), Away (3/4)

Aston Villa were at their very worst when they were trounced by Man City 5-0 last week, while Arsenal were back to their best during a similar goal-fest against Spurs.

Villa, though, have generally made it hard for teams when playing at home – it took a late comeback from Man United to undo them, having gone two goals up against Alex Ferguson’s men.

And the Villains do have England striker Darren Bent back from injury, though whether he’ll start, given his recent troubles, is another matter.

Moreover, while it would be typical of Arsenal to slip up having produced two efficient recent displays in the Champions League and Premier League, history suggests they’ll emerge victorious, with Villa having only won two of the last 27 league matches between the two teams.

Injured: Aston Villa – Joe Bennett, Chris Herd, Charles N’Zogbia and Richard Dunne. Arsenal – Theo Walcott and Andre Santos.

The verdict: Arsenal

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Paul Fennessy

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