Premier League preview
Robin van Persie prepares to face Arsenal, while the battle to avoid relegation continues.
Last Updated: 26/04/13 1:30pm
With Manchester United having sealed the Premier League title on Monday, attention turns elsewhere this weekend. There is plenty to play for as the race for Champions League qualification gathers pace, while things look set to become clearer at the bottom of the table in the battle to beat the drop.
Deposed champions Manchester City kick off the weekend when they host West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium in front of the Sky Sports 2 HD cameras at 12.45pm on Saturday. The Hammers are eyeing a top-half finish in their first season back in the big league but, with an FA Cup final to look forward to, Roberto Mancini's men will be looking to finish the season with a flourish.
From there, the clash between Wigan Athletic and Tottenham Hotspur at the DW Stadium looks the pick of the 3pm kick-offs with both teams desperate for points. The Latics go into the game three points from Premier League safety, albeit with a game in hand, and need to show some of last season's spring form if they are to claw their way out of trouble.
Spurs had been enduring something of a wobble in recent weeks, having dropped out of the top four, but their turnaround win over Man City on Sunday has brought renewed optimism. Victory on Saturday would take Andre Villas-Boas' side back up to third and they will be hopeful that north London rivals Arsenal will drop points the following day given their opponents.
The Gunners host the newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United live on Sky Sports 1 HD on Sunday and it will be a bitter-sweet occasion for the home fans. The Arsenal players are committed to providing a guard of honour for the visitors - including Premier League top scorer Robin van Persie, who left the club in acrimonious circumstances last summer.
Chelsea are the other London team in the mix for a Champions League spot and they are also in action on Sunday against Capital One Cup winners Swansea at Stamford Bridge. The Blues are continuing to fight on two fronts as their Europa League campaign continues but owner Roman Abramovich will be wary of dropping precious Premier League points in search of cup glory.
Back at the bottom, Reading host Queens Park Rangers with relegation looking imminent for both teams after a disappointing season. Both the Royals and the Hoops are nine points from Premier League safety going into the game, that is live on Sky Sports 1 HD on Sunday, and the loser of this one will be confirmed as relegated.
Even if there is a winner in the game, their return to the Championship will also be confirmed should Aston Villa pick up a much-needed win at home to Sunderland the following night. The Sky Sports 1 HD cameras are at Villa Park on Monday evening to see if the Villans can get the three points they need to drag the Black Cats back into the relegation battle.
The prospect of Paul Lambert's side pulling that off puts more pressure on those teams hovering just above the drop zone with many of them in action on Saturday.
Newcastle go into the weekend precariously positioned in 16th and facing a tricky test at home to Liverpool. There is some good news for the Magpies, however, as the visitors have been shorn of the services of star striker Luis Suarez following his 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic last weekend.
Elsewhere, Stoke City take on Norwich City at the Britannia Stadium with neither team having yet reached the important 40-point mark this season. The mood around both clubs has been buoyed after each picked up vital wins last time out but both Tony Pulis and Chris Hughton will want at least one more win to finally end those relegation fears.
Southampton are in a similar situation but Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping to put that right against West Bromwich Albion at St Mary's. The Saints have impressed on their Premier League return and can surely confirm their top-flight stay with three points against a Baggies side that has been on easy street for a while now having picked up 32 points by Boxing Day.
Finally, Everton face Fulham at Goodison Park with the Toffees able to briefly move eight points clear of rivals Liverpool with a victory. David Moyes' men may even be dreaming of muscling their way into the European places but it is likely to require four straight wins starting against the Cottagers this weekend.