By Jake Davies
- Spurs and Arsenal look to rebound after tasting defeat in midweek
- Chelsea and Stoke lock horns as both fight for European places
- Norwich face fellow strugglers Swansea City in a must win game
We take a look at the pick of the Barclays Premier League’s weekend action.
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Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
In one of the stand-out games as the Premier League reaches it’s conclusion, the North London Derby means that much more as Mauricio Pochettino’s Men and Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal need all three points, as they both lost their respective games in midweek. Tottenham will have their sights on this Barclays Premier League meeting with a lot of confidence. Before Wednesday’s loss to West Ham, they were on a winning run of six successive league games.
In the head-to-head between these two teams in recent history, Spurs have only lost 1 in 7 Premier League Games at White Hart Lane when they face their rivals Arsenal.
Arsenal definitely start off on Saturday as the more wounded of the two animals, as they have lost their last 3 games in all competitions, to Barcelona, Manchester United and Swansea City. The last time Arsenal went on a four game winless drought was as far back as October 2002. They’ll have to prevent that record without summer signing Petr Cech, who’s ruled out with a groin injury, as well as Laurent Koscielny who’s nursing a calf problem. Dele Alli is in the frame to start and Spurs midfielder Moussa Dembele is touch-and-go, following missing their last two games with a groin injury.
Chelsea vs Stoke City
A mouth-watering match takes place between two managers that have got the best out of their respective teams and made a huge difference with the personnel they have at their disposal. Guus Hiddink has turned Chelsea’s fortunes around since the departure of Jose Mourinho, whilst Mark Hughes has totally changed the direction in which Stoke City were going in. Hughes arguably transforming Stoke from the hard-tackling Tony Pulis outfit content with a midtable finish, to a Stoke side that are looking beyond that and contesting for the big European places and more.
Both teams will be looking to play expansively in order to occupy the greater position in the Premier League table. Chelsea are undefeated in their last 12 Premier League games under Hiddink, whereas Stoke have rebounded well from heavy defeats from Manchester United and Everton, now sitting on a 3 match win streak. With just 4 precious points separating seventh placed Stoke and eleventh placed Everton, it’s important for both teams to go for the jugular, as any dropped point could result in monumental feelings of regret at this stage in the season.
Norwich City vs Swansea City
Swansea City will be looking to build from their exploits in midweek when they play fellow strugglers Norwich City on Saturday afternoon. While Norwich are one of the most out of form teams in the Premier League, they are winless in their last 9 games in all competitions with their last win coming on January the 2nd against Southampton. This is a very significant game for both teams, as a win for Swansea would slowly but surely send them closer to the targeted 40 point mark, which many top managers believe is the target that guarantees Premier League status. A win for Norwich alleviates the pressure on a misfiring side. It’ll be intriguing to see whether it’ll be a case of damage limitations, with both sides trying their best not to lose rather than going all out for the victory.
Barclays Premier League fixtures:
12.45 Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal
15.00 Chelsea vs Stoke
15.00 Everton vs West Ham
15.00 Man City vs Aston Villa
15.00 Newcastle vs Bournemouth
15.00 Southampton vs Sunderland
15.00 Swansea vs Norwich
17.30 Watford vs Leicester
13.30 Crystal Palace vs Liverpool
16.00 West Bromwich Albion vs Manchester United