After a mid-week feast of European football, the attention turns again to the Premier League. A potential six-pointer at the rear end of the table and a glamorous tie at White Hart Lane, here’s five things to expect from the weekend…
1) Six pointer at Carrow Road
Norwich’s 3-1 win against West Ham looked to have steadied the Canaries’ ship, but a defeat at Newcastle last weekend put Chris Hughton’s men back into the danger zone, just a point above 18th place.
Palace arrive at Carrow Road for Tony Pulis first game in charge on the back of their first away win of the season and will need more of the same, if they’re to bridge the gap that separates them from safety.
It’s not December yet, but this game could have a huge psychological impact on both sides.
2) East and West united in doom
West Ham host Fulham in what is, effectively, a clash between two teams fighting relegation and the weight of misplaced expectations.
The hosts have scored only five goals at home and the January transfer window can’t come soon enough for Big Sam, who’s had to put with a tragic lack of firepower this season, after Andy Carroll’s injury.
Fulham, on the other hand, have lost their last four in the Premier League and despite a team seemingly more than good enough look to be on a seemingly irreversible downward spiral and another defeat could see Martin Jol picking up his P45.
3) What next for AVB and Moyes?
Spurs and United arrive into Sunday’s lunchtime kickoff with a couple of more worries – and a couple of less points on the table – they would have liked to at the start of the season.
United surrendered a late equaliser at Cardiff, while Spurs were obliterated at the Etihad, but both teams picked up morale-boosting victories midweek but both managers remain under pressure, albeit for different reasons.
AVB’s summer spending spree has so far failed to hit the spectacular heights many expected, while despite an 11-game unbeaten run Moyes’s men are still to convince that they can challenge for the title.
Spurs’ strikers could find the breakthrough they desperately need against the worst defensive record of any teams in the top seven, but should United go ahead, White Hart Lane could turn on AVB.
4) Remy and Newcastle look to surprise
Disaster is always a defeat away under Mike Ashley at Newcastle, but Alan Pardew’s men have arguably been the team of the month, picking up three wins in a row for the first time in 18 months.
Pardew’s lack of signings came under intense criticism earlier this season, but the only man the Newcastle manager signed is proving to be the difference for the Magpies.
Loic Remy has netted eight times this season, including three in the last three games, and he’ll be again the man Newcastle will turn to against West Brom on Saturday.
With Manchester United and Southampton both facing tough games away from home, a win for the Magpies would put them into the top six and, even though the season is only three months old, that would exceed anyone’s expectations.
5) Will Benteke rediscover his mojo?
Unbeaten in the last three, Villa have the opportunity to distance themselves from the relegation zone even more as they host Sunderland on Saturday, with the Black Cats the only team left in the Premier League to have not won away from home.
However, even Monday’s comeback against WBA did not disclose that Christian Benteke is struggling for form.
Since returning from injury over a month ago, the Belgian has gone five games without scoring – his longest draught since arriving in the Premier League – and while Villa must be praised for picking up points despite the lack of goals from their centre forward, they could soon be struggling if Benteke doesn’t rediscover his mojo.