Manchester City v Arsenal
Etihad Stadium, 12.45pm, Saturday
THE FIRST GAME of the weekend is also the biggest as Premier League leaders Arsenal travel to north for a lunchtime kick-off at the Etihad.
Both clubs progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League this week but did so in very different ways. The Gunners gave up top spot by going down to Napoli 2-0 while City recorded an excellent comeback to beat champions Bayern Munich 3-2 in Bavaria.
Manuel Pellegrini could restore Joe Hart to his starting line-up while Bacary Sagna will undergo a late fitness test for Aresenal.
Bet: Man City @ 5/6
Cardiff v West Brom
City of Cardiff Stadium, 3pm, Saturday
Two clubs sitting side-by-side in the bottom half of the table face off at the City of Cardiff Stadium both seeking their first win since the beginning of November.
The Bluebirds and the Baggies are lying dangerously close to the drop zone and Malky Mackay will be worried that they have failed to find the back of the net in the three games since their deserved 2-2 draw with Manchester United.
Bet: Cardiff @ 8/5
Chelsea v Crystal Palace
Stamford Bridge, 3pm, Saturday
Having been undone by Stoke last weekend, Chelsea cannot afford to lose more ground in the title race – especially at home to one of the bottom three.
Jose Mourinho has been bemoaning the fact that his three strikers – Fernarndo Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o – have only managed four league goals between them this term and must decide which one to go with for the visit of Palace.
Tony Pulis has orchestrated something of a revival at the Eagles with two wins from the three games he has been in charge but the club haven’t beaten their fellow Londoners in 23 years.
Bet: Chelsea @ 1/5
Everton v Fulham
Goodison Park, 3pm, Saturday
Ireland midfielder James McCarthy is suspended for Everton as they welcome Fulham to Goodison Park hoping to keep their 16-match unbeaten run at home intact.
Their win over Man United was followed up by a respectable 1-1 draw with Arsenal last weekend and three more points would move them into the top four until tomorrow at least.
Rene Meulensteen got his first win as Fulham boss against Aston Villa and they will need more of the same out of the enigmatic Dimitar Berbatov today.
Bet: Everton @ 2/5
Newcastle v Southampton
St James’ Park, 3pm, Saturday
It’s seventh v eighth at St James’ Park with Newcastle in the ascendency and Southampton aiming to stop the rot after their super start to the season.
The Magpies won at Old Trafford for the first time in 1972 but goalscorer Yohan Cabaye misses out here due to his fifth booking of the season. Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, has several absentees to deal with due to injuries.
Bet: Draw @ 11/5
West Ham v Sunderland
Upton Park, 3pm, Saturday
West Ham’s current poor form means they take on basement club Sunderland in a relegation six-pointer at Upton Park.
The injury-ravaged Hammers are only ahead of Fulham and Crystal Palace on goal difference and Sam Allardyce will be desperate to avoid going into the hectic Christmas period in the bottom three.
Gus Poyet’s Black Cats haven’t won on the road all season but must pick up points in games like this if they are to have any hope of avoiding demotion to the Championship.
Bet: Draw @23/10
Hull v Stoke
KC Stadium, 5.30pm, Saturday
Hull will look to continue their decent home form with the visit of Stoke to the KC Stadium.
The Tigers have lost just once at home (to Crystal Palace) in seven outings this season and put three past Liverpool the last time they played in front of their own fans.
The Potters come into the match on the back of a shock victory over Chelsea in which substitutes Stephen Ireland and Oussama Assaidi came off the bench to score decisive goals.
Bet: Hull @ 13/10
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Villa Park, 1.30pm, Sunday
Man United’s Shinji Kagawa is tackled by Ron Vlaar last season. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport
Manchester United have been rocked by news that Robin van Persie faces a month on the sidelines after picking up a thigh injury on his return in the loss to Newcastle.
The midweek win over Shakhtar Donetsk will have eased some of the pressure but they trail table-toppers Arsenal by a whopping 13 points at this early stage of the season and David Moyes could really do with a first league win since 10 November when they overcame the Gunners.
Villa lost out to Fulham last weekend but will not fear a vulnerable United team who are just three points ahead of them.
Bet: Draw @ 13/5
Norwich v Swansea
Carrow Road, 1.30pm, Sunday
Nine points out of the last 15 available has seen Norwich move up the relatively safe position of 14th in the table and given Chris Hughton some breathing space after what was a difficult period.
The 2-0 win away to West Brom will have been particularly pleasing after the humiliation at the hands of Liverpool and Luis Suarez. Swansea lost in Europe on Thursday night but still qualified for the knockout stages.
Bet: Draw@ 9/4
Tottenham v Liverpool
White Hart Lane, 4pm, Monday
Second-placed Liverpool are away to Tottenham in the final game of the weekend.
Coincidently, both clubs won their previous game by a 4-1 margain – the Reds saw off West Ham last Saturday while Roberto Soldado scored a hat-trick in Spurs’ 4-1 Europa League victory over Anzhi Mackhachkala.
The bad news for Brendan Rodgers is that he will have to do without skipper Steven Gerrard for the best part of a month due to a hamstring problem.
Bet: Draw @ 23/10
A tenner will earn you around €77442 this week.