Premier League preview
The final round of matches for 2013 features a blockbuster Super Sunday as Newcastle United host leaders Arsenal and Chelsea face Liverpool.
Last Updated: 01/01/14 2:34pm
The final round of Premier League matches for 2013 features a blockbuster Super Sunday as Newcastle United host leaders Arsenal and Chelsea face Liverpool.
There are also two live games on Sky Sports 1HD on Saturday, as West Ham United lock horns with West Bromwich Albion to kick off the weekend's action and at teatime Cardiff City meet Sunderland in another clash between two sides desperate for a boost ahead of the New Year.
Also on Saturday, Manchester City tackle Crystal Palace, Manchester United travel to Norwich City, Hull City are at home to Fulham and Aston Villa entertain Swansea City.
Everton will be out to return to winning ways against Southampton on Sunday, before Tottenham Hotspur welcome Stoke City to White Hart Lane
The Boxing Day action did not disappoint as the title race took on yet more twists and turns, with Arsenal regaining their place at the summit after coming from behind to beat West Ham United 3-1 and end a run of four games without a win in all competitions. Aaron Ramsey did suffer an injury but Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski, who have had long spells out this term, scored and Arsene Wenger remains confident that he has the squad to challenge for honours. The Gunners face a tough challenge on Sunday, though, with Newcastle flying high in sixth place after thrashing nine-man Stoke City 5-1 to make it seven wins in nine matches and stay within three points of the top four.
Liverpool had occupied top spot at Christmas but dropped to fourth after a 2-1 defeat by Manchester City. The Reds played their part in a terrific game but manager Brendan Rodgers was furious with the standard of officiating and will be hoping his men react in the right way when they visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Jose Mourinho had a lot of famous battles with Liverpool during his first stint in charge of Chelsea and will be relishing the chance to pit his wits against Rodgers, after grinding out a 1-0 win over Swansea to stay in third place, two points off top spot.
Manchester City have a chance to go top, at least temporarily, if they can extend their perfect record at the Etihad Stadium. The victory over Liverpool was their ninth in a row at home but undoubtedly the hardest so far, and they will not want to lose any momentum when they play Crystal Palace on Saturday. Tony Pulis' men gave their supporters the ideal Christmas present by climbing out of the relegation zone with a win over Aston Villa as Dwight Gayle scored a stunning late goal, and if they can upset the odds against City it would provide a massive lift.
West Ham were the team to replace Palace in the bottom three as their miserable run continued against Arsenal, increasing the pressure on manager Sam Allardyce ahead of their early Saturday game at home to West Brom. While the Hammers are without a win in five matches, the Baggies have not tasted victory in their last eight outings. They claimed a creditable 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Boxing Day, although results elsewhere left them just a point clear of the drop zone, and despite the good work being done by caretaker boss Keith Downing the club will be keen to appoint a permanent successor to Steve Clarke as soon as possible.
Malky Mackay's reign as Cardiff manager has been brought to an end following weeks of unrest after a 3-0 loss at home to Southampton kept the Bluebirds precariously perched just above the bottom three. Cardiff have managed just one win in their last eight and will have identified Saturday's clash with Sunderland as the perfect chance to bounce back. The Black Cats remain at the foot of the table but narrowed the gap to safety to three points with a surprise 1-0 win at Everton and Gus Poyet hopes that will be the springboard for an improved second half to the season.
Sunderland's win at Goodison Park was only Everton's second defeat of the campaign and put a dent in the top-four hopes of Roberto Martinez's men, as they slipped two points off the UEFA Champions League places. Next up for the Toffees are Southampton, who ended a six-match winless run to beat Cardiff on Thursday and consolidate their position in ninth.
Manchester United may not be among the title favourites after an inconsistent start to the season but they showed they had lost none of their battling qualities as they fought back from 2-0 down to beat Hull City 3-2 at the KC Stadium and register a third straight league win. They remain seventh but are just eight points off top spot ahead of their trip to Carrow Road on Saturday. Norwich defeated United at home last season and will be desperate for a repeat performance after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Fulham.
Tottenham are level on points with United after being held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom at White Hart Lane. It was Tim Sherwood's first game in charge since signing an 18-month contract and he boldly selected an attacking side, so it promises to be another exciting encounter against Stoke on Sunday. The Potters have been in good form recently to climb into the top half, but had little chance against Newcastle after having two men sent off and went down 5-1.
Rene Meulensteen has been happy with Fulham's progress since taking the helm and victory at Norwich on Boxing Day further boosted their survival hopes. They remain third from bottom but could climb a few places with another away win, this time at Hull. The Tigers looked set to build on a run of three straight draws with another positive result against Manchester United but the dramatic loss has left them just four points from the relegation zone.
Aston Villa's clash with Swansea on Saturday pits together two teams in poor form, with Paul Lambert's side on a four-match losing streak after being stunned by Crystal Palace and Swansea also without a win in four. Both sides are currently in the bottom half and will be hoping to push on into the top half during the second part of the season rather than spend their time looking anxiously behind.