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Premier League Matchday 17: Gunners hit by Auba absence
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Mitchell Fretton

The Premier League returns for another round of midweek fixtures as the busy Christmas period continues.

Arsenal will host West Ham without the disciplined Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, while Tottenham return to action at Leicester following their 11-day absence due to a coronavirus outbreak.

Manchester United will not feature after their trip to Brentford was postponed due to Covid-19 but city rivals Manchester City will when they welcome Leeds to the Etihad.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the nine fixtures this midweek.

Norwich vs Aston Villa (Tuesday, 7.45pm, BT Sport 2)

Norwich manager Dean Smith welcomes his former employers to Carrow Road looking to bounce back from Saturday's 1-0 defeat to United.

Despite a positive display, the Canaries were left empty-handed and face a tough task against Steven Gerrard's reinvigorated Aston Villa.

Gerrard himself had an emotional reunion on Saturday when he returned to Anfield only to lose out to a decisive Mohamed Salah penalty.

Villa have won three of their five games under Gerrard and will be favourites in this encounter as the East Anglians look to drag themselves off the bottom of the table.

The lowest scorers in the division, Smith's side have also had the fewest shots on target (49) but will be buoyed by the knowledge that Villa have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 Premier League away games.

Manchester City vs Leeds (Tuesday, 8pm, BT Sport 1)

Bernardo Silva has been in red-hot form for Mancheester City
Bernardo Silva has been in red-hot form for Mancheester City

Pep Guardiola welcomes Marcelo Bielsa to the Etihad hoping to avoid a repeat of last season's struggles against the Whites.

Leeds took four points from their two encounters last term, including a 2-1 away win.

This season, Guardiola's men boast the best home record in the division after only dropping points to Southampton and Crystal Palace.

Bernardo Silva will likely offer the visitors their sternest test — the Portuguese international has five goals in his last six appearances.

Should the hosts find the target it would be the 500th Premier League goal of Guardiola's tenure, coming in just 207 games.

Brighton vs Wolves (Wednesday, 7.30pm, BT Sport 2) 

Wolves will be without Raul Jimenez after he was sent off against Manchester City at the weekend
Wolves will be without Raul Jimenez after he was sent off against Manchester City at the weekend

Brighton's promising start to the season has well and truly stalled and they are now 10 games without a league win.

Despite their troubling streak, only City, Chelsea and Liverpool have lost fewer games than the Seagulls' three and they will be confident of avoiding defeat against Wolves.

Bruno Lage's visitors are similarly out of form having gone without a win or a goal in their last four encounters.

Neal Maupay is the man most likely to make the difference in this affair after scoring six league goals so far this term.

Crystal Palace vs Southampton (Wednesday, 7.30pm, BT Sport 3)

Crystal Palace ended their rough patch of form with a convincing 3-1 victory over Everton on Sunday, while Southampton fell victim to a 3-0 loss at Arsenal.

The Saints have picked up just two points from the last 15 available and go into the game uncomfortably close to the bottom three.

But the mood is merrier at Selhurst Park after a return to winning ways against the Toffees and they will be hoping for a repeat of last season's home win against Ralph Hasenhuttl's side.

Only Liverpool have lost fewer home games than Patrick Vieira's outfit this season, while the visitors have suffered defeat in 15 of their last 19 games on the road.

Expect Conor Gallagher to have an impact on the scoreline in South London — the Chelsea loanee has been involved in 44% of Palace's 22 league goals this campaign.

Burnley vs Watford (Wednesday, 7.30pm, BT Sport ESPN)

A late Bryan Mbeumo penalty consigned Watford to their fourth straight league defeat on Friday night with Claudio Ranieri's Hornets appearing to have lost their sting. 

Free-scoring victories against Everton and United had given the Hertfordshire club hope of a push up the table but Ranieri's men sit just two points and a place above relegation rivals Burnley heading into this clash.

The hosts have won just one of their 15 league games so far this term but welcome a Hornets side that has failed to keep a Premier League clean sheet this season.

Emmanuel Dennis is likely to be the source of quality in this bottom-half battle — the Nigerian forward has five goals and four assists from his last seven Premier League games.

Arsenal vs West Ham (Wednesday, 8pm, BT Sport 1)

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be sidelined indefinitely due to a disciplinary breach
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be sidelined indefinitely due to a disciplinary breach

Arsenal will host top-four challengers West Ham without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The star striker was stripped of the club captaincy following an internal disciplinary matter and will not be available for selection.

The inconsistent Gunners can make an important step in their quest for European qualification with victory but know they face a formidable opponent in David Moyes' visitors.

The Hammers are looking to win three consecutive Premier League London derbies for the first time since January 2019.

Moyes is celebrating his 600th Premier League match in this contest and will hope to mastermind only a second league win at the Emirates from the Irons' last 12 visits.

Leicester vs Tottenham (Thursday, 7.30pm, BT Sport 3)

Tottenham were absent from the weekend's fixtures due to their coronavirus outbreak but return against a Leicester side fresh from a 4-0 victory over Newcastle.

A win for the hosts will see them leapfrog Spurs, who are undefeated in the Premier League since Antonio Conte's appointment.

Harry Kane has scored just one league goal this season — with his last coming against Newcastle in mid-October — but has an impressive record against the Foxes, netting 11 times in his last eight appearances.

Chelsea vs Everton (Thursday, 7.45pm, BT Sport 2)

Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku is Everton's all-time top Premier League scorer
Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku is Everton's all-time top Premier League scorer

Chelsea only just managed to squeeze past Leeds on Saturday, with Jorginho's injury-time penalty earning the Blues a 3-2 win.

Rafa Benitez returns to his former club under serious pressure with Sunday's deflating loss at Palace losing much of the positivity gained from the home win over Arsenal.

A previously resolute Chelsea defence has shown signs of weakness recently, conceding eight goals in their last three games in all competitions.

But without long-term injury absentee Dominic Calvert-Lewin and with Richarlison an injury doubt, it is tough to see how Benitez can get the better of Thomas Tuchel here.

Liverpool vs Newcastle (Thursday, 8pm, BT Sport 1)

Our final fixture sees high-flying Liverpool host struggling Newcastle.

The Magpies were humbled by Leicester on Sunday but they are showing signs of improvement under Eddie Howe.

The Tyneside club will have their work cut out for them if they are to stop Mohamed Salah from adding to his 14 goals in 16 Premier League matches this campaign.

Yet to win on the road this season and without a league victory at Anfield since April 1994, the omens are ominous for Howe and his side.


Premier LeagueAston VillaArsenalBurnleyChelseaEvertonLiverpoolManchester CityLeedsCrystal PalaceSouthamptonTottenham HotspurWest Ham UnitedWolverhampton WanderersNorwich CityNewcastle UnitedLeicester CityBrighton & Hove AlbionWatford
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