Premier League preview: Chelsea face Manchester United; Arsenal and Man City at home
Chelsea's showdown with Manchester United takes centre stage, while Arsenal and Man City have home dates on Saturday.
By Rob Parrish - Follow me on Twitter @skysportsrobp
Last Updated: 18/01/14 2:53pm
The Gunners returned to the top of the table courtesy of their hard-fought 2-1 win away to Aston Villa on Monday night and will remain at the summit with victory over struggling Fulham.
Manuel Pellegrini's City look set to complete a century of goals for the season in all competitions when they welcome relegation-threatened Cardiff to the Etihad, having moved onto 99 with Wednesday's FA Cup romp against Blackburn.
Liverpool, who remain contenders for the title, can be seen live on Sky Sports 1HD when they face Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday Night Football.
Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis faces his former club Stoke City for the first time on Saturday, with Sam Allardyce and Alan Pardew up against their old employers when West Ham play host to Newcastle.
Sunderland are off the bottom of the table and will aim to continue their upward momentum against Southampton, while struggling Norwich play host to Hull City at Carrow Road.
The first part of Sky Sports 1HD's Super Sunday programme sees Swansea take on Tottenham at the Liberty Stadium, before the cameras head to the Hawthorns for the Monday Night Football meeting between West Brom and Everton.
Meetings between Chelsea and Manchester United have been pivotal in the title race for much of the past decade and the Super Sunday meeting between the duo is again a key game for both clubs. Defeat for the champions could prove to be a fatal blow to their already dwindling defence, while the Blues do not want to lose ground on Arsenal and City. David Moyes has never won in nine meetings with Jose Mourinho and is yet to taste victory in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge, with six draws and six defeats from 12 visits during his time as Everton boss. Mourinho, meanwhile, is looking for his 100th Premier League victory in just his 142nd game in charge.
Arsenal remain the team to overhaul at the Premier League summit and will be strong favourites to see off Fulham at the Emirates Stadium, with the Cottagers having lost 22 and drawn five of their 27 meetings away to the Gunners in all competitions. Arsene Wenger's side are chasing a fifth successive victory, with three of their four previous wins coming on the road against West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa. Fulham, who are just one point above the bottom three, went some way to making amends for their drubbing at home to Sunderland with a 3-0 FA Cup victory over Norwich in midweek, with key duo Brede Hangeland and Maarten Stekelenburg returning.
Cardiff are the latest side with the unenviable task of attempting to stop the Manchester City steamroller at the Etihad Stadium. Pellegrini's side have won all 10 of the Premier League games they have hosted this season, scoring 38 goals in the process, with a staggering 99 already notched in all competitions at home and on the road. To add to their armoury, Sergio Aguero took a matter of seconds to confirm his return to fitness with a goal after stepping off the bench against Blackburn in the FA Cup. New Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his side suffer a damaging 2-0 home defeat to West Ham on his Premier League bow to slip into the bottom three.
Liverpool cannot be discounted from the Premier League title race as they remain six points behind Arsenal ahead of their home date with Aston Villa, live on Saturday Night Football. The goals continue to flow for Luis Suarez this season, with the Uruguay international adding two more to his top-flight tally of 22 in their 5-3 win away to Stoke last time out. Rodgers' side have won their last seven home games in the Premier League and have welcomed striker Daniel Sturridge back from injury. Villa currently sit 11th in the table after their defeat by Arsenal, but are just five points above the relegation zone with only six separating 20th and 10th in the top-flight table.
Stoke come up against the man they parted company with over the summer as they travel to Selhurst Park to take on Pulis' Crystal Palace. The Eagles slipped to the foot of the standings after their 2-0 defeat at Tottenham last weekend but will not have a new man on penalty duties despite Jason Puncheon's comical miss from the spot at White Hart Lane. Stoke, meanwhile, have just one point to show from their last four Premier League games and are shipping goals at an alarming rate, with 14 conceded in that spell. Mark Hughes' side have won none of their last eight Premier League away games, a run which includes six defeats.
There are more reunions taking place in the meeting between West Ham and Newcastle at Upton Park on Saturday as Allardyce and Pardew both face their former employers. Newcastle go into the game on the back of three successive Premier League defeats and a further loss to Cardiff in the FA Cup, with the Magpies upset by the marginal, debatable but pivotal offside decision which went against them in the loss to Manchester City. The Hammers eased some of the mounting pressure on their manager with the 2-0 victory away to Cardiff which lifted them out of the bottom three and saw striker Andy Carroll make his long-awaited return to action from injury.
Sunderland will be keen to take advantage of the boardroom turmoil currently engulfing Southampton as they welcome the Saints to the Stadium of Light in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off. The departure of influential chairman Nicola Cortese has led to speculation over the future of manager Mauricio Pochettino and a number of his squad, although the Argentine has since insisted he is '100 per cent committed' to the south coast club. The Black Cats climbed off the foot of the table for the first time since November with their handsome win at Fulham and need to continue their upward momentum with safety just one point away.
Norwich City are another side in trouble at the wrong end of the Premier League table as they prepare to tackle Hull City, with the Canaries' limp FA Cup exit away to Fulham in midweek an eighth game without a win for Chris Hughton's struggling team. Norwich are now just two points above the drop zone, with chief executive David McNally suggesting that, in sporting terms, relegation is a fate worse than death. Hull are in the top half but only three points better off than their weekend opponents, with Steve Bruce making moves to bolster his squad in the January transfer window with Shane Long set to join fellow striker Nikica Jelavic in the Tigers' squad.
Tottenham travel to Swansea on Sunday, live on Sky Sports 1HD, with the north London club enjoying a resurgence under new manager Tim Sherwood which has seen them take 13 points from the last 15 on offer. Spurs remain firmly in the fight for UEFA Champions League football next season, trailing fourth-placed Liverpool by just two points. Swansea, meanwhile, are struggling to match their achievements of last term, with Michael Laudrup's men currently on a run of seven Premier League games without success, which has seen them slide gradually down the standings to a position just three points above the drop zone.
The final fixture of the 22nd round of Premier League matches takes place on Monday night, with Pepe Mel taking charge of his first game since being appointed West Brom manager in the Hawthorns clash against high-flying Everton, live on Sky Sports 1HD. Mel inherits a side with just one victory from their last 10 Premier League games, although caretaker Keith Downing had overseen a four-game unbeaten run prior to the 1-0 defeat to Southampton. It will be a stern debut examination against an Everton side who have suffered the least defeats of any team in the Premier League and have the joint-best defensive record to boot under Roberto Martinez.
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