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Weekend Premier League predictions

Premier League

Boro's defence to be tested vs. West Ham

By ESPN Staff

Conte: Milan are title favourites

Juventus coach Antonio Conte has the only undefeated side in Serie A at the start of 2012 but he insists AC Milan are the favourites to win the Scudetto.

The pair are locked together at the top of the standings with 34 points after 16 games as Serie A action returns after the winter break.

Juve have shown few signs of weakness this season and they have strengthened their attacking line with the loan signing of Roma's Marco Borriello this week.

Speaking ahead of his team's game against bottom side Lecce on Sunday, Conte said: ''Milan wear the Scudetto on their jerseys and have an important squad. They are the defending champions and hence, they are a step ahead of the others.

''But I find it funny that we, Juventus, are considered the only team that can challenge them. There are five or six teams, including us, that can have a say in the end. We are a great team and we have to return to thinking like a big team. However, if Milan maintain the rhythm they have shown in the last two months, the season could end soon.''

Milan go into their game at Atalanta on Sunday having won nine of their last 11 league games. The Rossoneri have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven league games.

Third-placed Udinese are enjoying an impressive run themselves ahead of this weekend's clash with relegation-threatened Cesena. The Friuli outfit are unbeaten at home and have won six of their seven encounters in Udine.

Lazio are fourth and travel to Siena bolstered by the return of goalkeeper Federico Marchetti. The Italy international has recovered from the muscular injury that saw him miss the past three league games.

A reinvigorated Inter Milan host Parma on the back of four straight wins. Claudio Ranieri's side left behind a dismal start to the campaign and their good run of form has seen them climb to fifth place, eight points behind Juventus.

Napoli are two points behind Inter and looking to clinch their first ever league win at Palermo this weekend. Roma will be without their top scorer, Daniel Osvaldo, when they welcome Chievo to the Stadio Olimpico. Osvaldo, who has scored seven goals this season, sustained a muscular injury in training this week.

Sunday's game at Cagliari will be Pasquale Marino's first in charge of mid-table Genoa. Marino replaced Alberto Malesani, who was sacked after Genoa's 6-1 defeat at Napoli on December 22.

Fiorentina fans are hoping 2012 will mark a turning point for their team, starting at Novara on Sunday. The Viola have yet to win away from home this season and have drawn three times.

Catania make the journey to Bologna with striker Maxi Lopez's future still uncertain. Lopez, who is set to leave the Sicilian outfit this month, is a reported target of AC Milan and Fulham.


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