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Rediff.com  » Sports » What you must not miss in the EPL this weekend

What you must not miss in the EPL this weekend

December 18, 2014 13:52 IST

Manchester City can pile the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea for the first time this season

Manchester City vs Crystal Palace

When: Saturday, December 20

Time: 1815 IST

Manuel Pellegrini

Manuel Pellegrini the manager of Manchester City walks past his players during a training session. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Rejuvenated Manchester City can pile the pressure on Premier League leaders Chelsea for the first time this season if they beat struggling visitors Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Having trailed leaders Chelsea by eight points at one stage this season, City have won their last five league matches, with Frank Lampard's strike enough to give Manuel Pellegrini's side a 1-0 victory at bottom club Leicester City last weekend.

However, City will be without a recognised forward against 16th-placed Palace as Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko all have knocks, while captain and key central defender Vincent Kompany limped off at Leicester with a hamstring injury.

Despite a lack of attacking options, Pellegrini is confident his injury-hit squad can find the perfect striking remedy within their ranks against Neil Warnock's Palace.

"We'll work this week with the players that can play in that position," Pellegrini told reporters. "At the moment we are trying to recover all the players because we have no strikers.

"David Silva, Samir Nasri and the rest of the midfielders can all score so we must see during the week which is the best way to play in the future until we recover our strikers."

Stoke City vs Chelsea

When: Tuesday, December 23

Time: 0130 IST

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas, third right, warms up alongside team mates during a Chelsea training session. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images

With Chelsea not playing at Stoke City until Monday, a City victory at the Etihad Stadium against a Palace side who have failed to win their last four Premier League matches would put the champions level on 39 points with Jose Mourinho's men.

Chelsea, who beat visiting Hull City 2-0 last weekend, have no striking woes but, after allowing their healthy advantage over City to be cut, midfielder Cesc Fabregas has called on his team mates to keep improving in their quest for the title.

"You can always get better," the Spaniard told the club's website. "We know that and we are trying to improve in training by doing what the manager tells us to do.

"Everyone is very focused and everyone is very professional. Now the next two or three weeks are really important in our season and we have to be up for it."

Aston Villa vs Manchester United

When: Saturday, December 20

Time: 2030 IST

Manchester United Manager Louis van Gaal watches his players warm up

Manchester United Manager Louis van Gaal watches his players warm up. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Third-placed Manchester United, buoyed by a 3-0 demolition of arch-rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford last weekend, travel to Aston Villa on Saturday when fourth-placed West Ham United host basement side Leicester.

Newcastle vs Sunderland

When: Sunday, December 21

Time: 1900 IST

Yoan Gouffran controls the ball while manager Alan Pardew looks on during a Newcastle United   training session

Yoan Gouffran controls the ball while manager Alan Pardew looks on during a Newcastle United training session. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

On Sunday, Newcastle United fans will give Sunderland a hostile reception in the Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park, before floundering Liverpool, perhaps lifted by their 3-1 Capital One Cup win at Bournemouth in midweek, host sixth-placed Arsenal.