Premier League preview: Super Sunday sees Liverpool host Man City and Chelsea face Swansea
Super Sunday should help to make the title picture a little clearer as Liverpool host Man City and Chelsea face Swansea.
Last Updated: 14/04/14 10:04am
Prior to a mouth-watering double-header at the top of the table, events on Saturday will see the battle to beat the drop thrust back under the spotlight.
Norwich City will be under the guidance of Neil Adams for the first time when they take in a relegation six-pointer at Fulham, while Sunderland will be looking to climb off the foot of the division when they host top-four hopefuls Everton.
Cardiff City really need to take something from a trip to Southampton, as do West Bromwich Albion from a home date with Tottenham Hotspur.
Crystal Palace will be hoping to stretch their winning run when Aston Villa travel to the capital, and the only game which would appear to have little riding on it will see Stoke City tangle with out-of-sorts Newcastle United.
All eyes this weekend will, however, be on events at Anfield, with Liverpool and Manchester City set to lock horns in a potentially pivotal clash which could determine the destination of the top-flight crown. The Reds lead the way heading into a heavyweight encounter on Merseyside, with Brendan Rodgers' side having opened up a two-point lead on the chasing pack. Nine wins in a row have carried them to the summit, and a 10th would make them firm favourites to end a 24-year wait for title glory. City, though, have played two fixtures fewer than their title rivals and know a positive result of any kind in their next outing will keep their fate squarely in their own hands. You can catch all of the action live on Sky Sports 1HD and in Sky 3D from 12.30pm.
One man who will definitely be tuning in is Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, as he prepares his side for a trip to Swansea City. Events at the Liberty Stadium will be broadcast live once the final whistle blows at Anfield, and by then the Blues will know what they have to do in order to keep themselves in the hunt. Mourinho's men sit second, but have City breathing down their neck and have been left kicking themselves in recent weeks after suffering untimely setbacks at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace. Progress in Europe should have them in buoyant mood, though, for a meeting with a Swansea side that is perched six points above the drop zone and still looking anxiously over its shoulder.
Another fixture that will have plenty riding on it as we approach the business end of the 2013/14 campaign will be staged at Craven Cottage, with Fulham and Norwich City leaving themselves with little margin for error. Victory over Aston Villa last time out has offered renewed hope to the Cottagers in their efforts to beat the drop, with five points now separating them from safety. The side they are looking to chase down are Norwich City, who have parted company with manager Chris Hughton in the wake of back-to-back defeats and a run of one win in six and replaced him with youth team coach Adams. With Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal to come in their final four games, the Canaries' top-flight status could rest on their result in west London on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the capital, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa go head-to-head at Selhurst Park. Palace, who appeared to have a mountain to climb when Tony Pulis inherited their managerial reins from the beleaguered Ian Holloway in November, are riding the crest of a wave they hope will carry them away from danger and keep their head above water. Back-to-back wins over Chelsea and, more importantly, Cardiff have lifted the Eagles seven points clear of the bottom three, and one more success may be enough to see them safe. The same can be said for Villa, who sit level on points with Palace, but they need to find a way of halting a run of three straight defeats if a wobble is to avoid becoming an alarming slump.
Sunderland are very much stuck in a rut, with seven defeats in their last eight sinking them to rock-bottom. Gus Poyet conceded after a 5-1 hammering at Tottenham on Monday that his side may now require 'a miracle' in order to keep themselves among English football's elite. Things are not about to get any easier for the Wearsiders either, with Everton the next side to visit the Stadium of Light. Their 3-0 win over Arsenal last time out has them sat just one point adrift of the Gunners in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification - and they still hold a game in hand on Arsene Wenger's side. With Arsenal in FA Cup action this weekend, victory in the North East on Saturday - which would make it seven in a row - would lift the Toffees into the top four and have them dreaming of a seat at Europe's top table.
Tottenham Hotspur are still clinging to the hope that they could make a late surge in that particular race and pip their rivals at the post. There is, however, a five-point gap to bridge if they are to upset the odds, and events off the field are doing Spurs few favours as they attempt to end the campaign on a high. Speculation regarding the future of manager Tim Sherwood was brushed aside in spectacular fashion against Sunderland on Monday, but reports that he is to be relieved of his duties regardless of results from here on in are set to drag on into the summer - providing an unwelcome distraction. West Bromwich Albion will be hoping that Spurs take their eye off the ball at The Hawthorns, with a four-point haul from their last two outings edging them away from the drop zone, but leaving plenty of work still to be done.
Southampton had been hoping that they, like Tottenham, would be among those staging a continental push at this stage, but they have fallen away and will have to make do with a solid top-half standing. They are moving in the right direction, though, which is more than can be said for their weekend opponents Cardiff City. The Bluebirds have never got going this season, and find themselves languishing in the relegation zone as a result. The clock is ticking on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's bid to turn the tide, with it possible that they could end the latest round of fixtures in 20th spot. Three defeats in four - including costly dropped points against West Brom and Crystal Palace - will have done little for fragile confidence, while their record against the Saints makes for dismal reading. Cardiff's last success on the south coast came way back in 1962, and they failed to muster a single shot on target when the two sides met in South Wales on Boxing Day.
It is rare at this stage of the season - given how tight things are at the top of the bottom - to find a fixture that will barely register on the Premier League radar. Stoke City and Newcastle United have, however, plodded their way into mid-table - doing just about enough to ensure that they will steer well clear trouble, but not quite enough to put themselves in the race for Europe. It may be a case of going through the motions at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday, but there are still points to be taken and pride to be played for, and that should ensure that the tie remains competitive. Stoke head into the game in much the better form having won four of their last six, with Newcastle losing three on the bounce -conceding 10 goals without reply.