Premier League: five things to expect from the weekend

Having witnessed the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich beat Manchester City and Arsenal in their own backyards, the attention returns to the Premier League, for what could be an important weekend for many clubs, particularly at the less noble end of the table.

Here’s five things we can expect from the weekend.

1) Chelsea must seize their chance

Despite Jose Mourinho’s efforts to classify his “little horses” as not good enough to challenge for the title, the Blues enter the weekend ahead of both City and Arsenal, albeit having played one more game than City and could extend their lead at the top of the table for a few hours.

Everton have been excellent this season, but Chelsea have won 18 of their last 21 league games at Stamford Bridge and with neither City nor Arsenal expected to drop points at home, expect Jose to be determined to pick up another three points.

2) Can Newcastle turn the tide?

Alan Pardew must be relieved that his team put in such wonderful performances in the first half of the season, which allowed them to sit closer to the European spots than to the relegation zone, for the Magpies’ season looks to have taken a turn for the worse in January.

Perhaps not incidentally, since Yohan Cabaye left Newcastle have lost three in a row and have looked a pale imitation of the side that had favourably impressed in the first five months of the season.

With only 12 games remaining, Newcastle should be too far ahead to be dragged into the relegation dogfight, but need a win against Aston Villa to restore some confidence in the camp.

3) Moyes must bring Januzaj back

Amid Manchester United’s dismal season there seemed to be just one shining light, the one provided by Adnan Januzaj.

However, after Juan Mata’s arrival in January, the Belgian teenager has seen his opportunities limited, with David Moyes preferring to field Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young alongside Wayne Rooney and the former Chelsea man.

Januzaj ignited his teammates into life during his cameo against Fulham but has not started for a month, as United’s predicament shows no sign of stopping, with the Reds without a win in the last three games.

A trip to Crystal Palace represents another difficult test for Moyes, given that Palace are unbeaten in the last four at home and have conceded just twice in the process and the United manager must be bold and bring Januzaj back into the fold in place of the ineffective Young and Valencia.

4) A six pointer in Wales

With Sunderland traveling to the Emirates, Stoke facing Manchester City away and Norwich hosting Spurs, tomorrow’s clash between Cardiff and Hull City could well be the first genuine six pointer of the season, as far as the battle to avoid relegation is concerned.

Both teams arrive into the game in equally dismal form, having won one, drawn one and lost four of their last six games, but the pressure will be on Cardiff more than Hull, for the Bluebirds are already two points adrift of the relegation zone.

Furthermore, in Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, Hull have the sort of experienced strikers that could prove decisive in avoid the drop, a luxury Cardiff currently do not possess.

5) Arsenal can bounce back

Having picked up a meagre point from their last two league outings and having seen their chances of progressing to the quarter finals in the Champions League slip through their fingers, Arsenal could be forgiven for entering the weekend in sombre mood.

However, neither City nor Chelsea made the most of the Gunners’ two-game wobble in the league and Arsene Wenger’s men still sit a point behind Chelsea and two ahead of City, even though Pellegrini’s team has played a game less.

A home fixture against Sunderland presents the Gunners with the perfect chance to bounce back immediately from their midweek defeat, but Arsene Wenger will be wary of the Black Cats’ record on the road, as Gus Poyet’s men haven’t lost in the last six away from home.

The way Arsenal will go about their business tomorrow will say a lot about their credentials this season, for the Gunners have always found it hard to bounce back after a couple of disappointing results.

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