Premier League 2012, Week 14 preview and fixtures: We've got the midseason blues

Clive Rose

November is... well, it's something. We're somehow more than a third of the way into the Premier League season, entering that middle stretch which means everything and nothing, and mostly feels like the latter. We're no longer getting the footballing equivalent of new car smell, and we're not close enough to the finale for there to be any real urgency to these matches. Oh, and we're playing in midweek now, which makes the whole thing feel like the Capital One Cup.

Tuesday, November 27th

Sunderland vs. Queens Park Rangers

It's Harry Redknapp's debut! Other than that, there's not much to care about. Sunderland -- who've had weird rumours regarding Martin O'Neill's future hanging over their collective heads -- will be disappointed if they don't pick up full points against a team that's yet to win a game this season.

Aston Villa vs. Reading

Aston Villa are coming off the back of a very credible 0-0 home draw against Arsenal, but they'll need to improve on that result against relegation rivals Reading. Strange as it may seem for one of the Premier League's permanent fixtures, Villa are in serious danger of dropping to the Championship on current form, and they'll need a result against the Royals to spark a revival if one is indeed forthcoming.

Wednesday, November 28th

Chelsea vs. Fulham

The friendliest derby in the world coincidentally features the friendliest striker in the world. Step forth Fernando Torres, so concerned by the feelings of other teams' players and fans he does his best to ensure that they all have a wonderful day. Dimitar Berbatov, meanwhile, doesn't believe in feelings. He's far too cool for that sort of thing.

Everton vs. Arsenal

Now this one should be good. Both sides are coming off relatively disappointing draws in midweek, and it'll be fascinating to see how they play things at Goodison Park. One key will be the return of Toffees midfielder Everton Fellaini, whose physical presence could deeply unsettle the visitors here.

Southampton vs. Norwich City

Southampton are coming off an emphatic home win against Newcastle United, but they face a Norwich team that's on an incredible run of form, having found their feet after an appalling start to the season. Expect the Saints' attack to do some damage, but their defenders are going to have major trouble dealing with Grant Holt.

Stoke City vs. Newcastle United

You should not watch this one unless you are either a Stoke City supporter, a Newcastle United supporter, or a neutral who enjoys Stoke's style of play. I think I'm the only one of those who exists.

Swansea City vs. West Bromwich Albion

This'll be good. Swansea are a tough test at the Liberty Stadium and West Bromwich Albion's road form isn't particularly good. But Steve Clark's side are on fire right now, and they can cement their place in the top three with a win here. West Brom will almost certainly enter December in the Champions League places. Football is cool. And boring. Mostly boring. But sometimes cool.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool

After rebounding from a hammering in the North London Derby with a comfortable win against West Ham that was marred by antisemitic chants, Spurs have the chance to grab another victory when Liverpool come to White Hart Lane. They'll have to stop the on-fire Luis Suarez, however -- the Reds are undefeated whenever the Premier League's top scorer finds the net.

Manchester United vs. West Ham United

Oh good. A Manchester United game. Here's how this will go: West Ham will look decent, score a goal around the 55th minute, and then lose by two or three goals once Manchester United finally turn on the gas. This happens every week.

Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City

On the plus side for Ali Al-Habsi, he'll have a less embarrassing day than he did this weekend. The negatives? Pretty much everything else.

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