Premier League preview
The battle for Champions League football looks set to go down to the wire, while six teams are still in danger of filling the one remaining relegation place.
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp
Last Updated: 13/05/13 11:53am
The battle for UEFA Champions League football looks set to go down to the wire, while six teams are realistically still in danger of filling the one remaining relegation place.
Manchester United may already have secured the Premier League title, but they can still have a major say on the outcome of the race for the top four with Chelsea the visitors to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Arsenal head to QPR on Saturday evening and Tottenham play host to Southampton earlier in the day with the three London rivals slugging it out for two places behind United and Manchester City.
The Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton can be seen live on Sky Sports on Super Sunday, with the visitors still in contention for European football and eager to finish a second campaign above their local rivals.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafa Benitez go head-to-head once again on Sunday as Manchester United welcome Chelsea to Old Trafford. The former Liverpool boss and his Red Devils counterpart have rarely seen eye-to-eye, but Ferguson did grudgingly admit ahead of the game that Benitez has 'done a good job in the last few weeks'. The Scot has promised to send out a strong side despite having already secured the trophy, while the Blues' marathon season still has five games to go after they booked their place in the Europa League final, with a key meeting against Spurs looming on Wednesday.
Arsenal make the trip to Loftus Road to tackle relegated Queens Park Rangers on Saturday evening with the opportunity to move above Chelsea in the table. The Gunners are yet to win at the home of QPR in five Premier League attempts and will be eager to rectify that statistical anomaly this weekend. Arsene Wenger has had to beat away suggestions that he could be set to leave Emirates Stadium for PSG this summer, while counterpart Harry Redknapp has pledged his future to the Rs despite their relegation back to the Championship.
Tottenham remain in the hunt for a top-four finish, standing two points adrift of the Gunners with the benefit of a game in hand, a gap which could be bridged for a few hours as they welcome Southampton to White Hart Lane. Gareth Bale continues to dominate the headlines ahead of the clash with his former club after adding the Football Writers' Association honour to his Professional Footballers' Association awards double, with his future now top of the agenda. Andre Villas-Boas insists Bale will not be sold even if Spurs miss out on the top four, but a summer of speculation over the Spurs superstar beckons.
A no-holds-barred contest is guaranteed at Anfield on Sunday lunchtime when Liverpool play host to near neighbours Everton. The Reds managed to put the debate over Luis Suarez's 10-game ban behind them with a scintillating display to hammer hapless Newcastle 6-0 at St James' Park last weekend and will have high hopes of bridging the five-point gap to the side from across Stanley Park. But David Moyes' men know that victory this weekend would ensure they finish as Merseyside's top Premier League team for the second season in succession.
Aston Villa are another side basking in the glory of having scored six in their last outing, with fellow strugglers Sunderland put to the sword in dramatic fashion at Villa Park on Monday night. Paul Lambert's side can draw another team deeper into the relegation mire with victory over his former club Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday. The Canaries cannot afford to relax yet as a run of just one win in eight has seen them slide to six points above the bottom three, with FA Cup finalists Wigan boasting a game in hand on all the teams above them.
Newcastle issued a statement in midweek to dismiss reports of disharmony in the dressing room at St James' Park, but successive home defeats to Sunderland and Liverpool in which they shipped nine goals and failed to find the net themselves demonstrates all is not well for Alan Pardew's men. The Magpies travel to West Ham this weekend as Pardew comes up against one of his former clubs, with Sam Allardyce's side looking comfortable just inside the top half of the Premier League table after their first season back among the elite.
Wigan's bid to scramble clear of the bottom three has stalled in recent matches, with only two points gathered from their last four games. Victory away to a West Brom side who have been as inconsistent in the second half of the campaign as they were impressive in the first looks imperative if the Latics are to avoid being cast further adrift at the foot of the table. Roberto Martinez's men can take heart from the fact that they had 32 points after 34 games in 2009/10 and finished the season safely in 16th place, but their regular flirtations with the drop may soon see them take the plunge.
Manchester City have little other than pride left to play for as they prepare to travel to Swansea this weekend after their limp Premier League title defence. Michael Laudrup's side are also seemingly suffering from a silverware-induced hangover, with their form suffering badly in the wake of their Capital One Cup triumph over Bradford at Wembley earlier this year. The Swans have taken just two points from the last 18 available but remain in ninth place, such was their fine form prior to their success in late February.
Reading were unable to carry their Championship displays into the Premier League and their demotion back to the second tier was confirmed last weekend following a lifeless 0-0 draw at home to QPR. The appointment of Nigel Adkins to replace Brian McDermott has failed to stop the rot and the Royals are now on a rotten run of two points from the last 30 available. They make the trip to Craven Cottage on Saturday to face a Fulham side who are also limping to the finish line with Martin Jol's men losing four and drawing one of their last five.