Premier League: five things to expect from the weekend

The last Premier League weekend before Christmas promises to be a cracking one, with plenty of talking points over the weekend, leading up to Monday’s top of the table clash at the Emirates.

Will Sunderland drag themselves closer to safety and will United finally manage to convince at home? Here’s five things we can expect from the weekend.

 1) Liverpool must seize their chance

Arsenal might be leading the league, but Liverpool have unquestionably been the surprise package this season as far as the top four are concerned.

The Reds’ swashbuckling 5-0 demolition of Spurs last week put them in second place, level on points with Chelsea and just two points behind Arsenal and with the two London clubs going head-to-head on Monday, Liverpool have the chance to be top of the table over the weekend and possibly even over Christmas.

In the last three seasons the team top of the table on Christmas day has gone on to win the league, something that will not be lost on Brendan Rodgers.

2) United need to find home comfort

Three wins and eight goals scored in eight games at Old Trafford is a dismal record for Manchester United, and David Moyes must hope his men can build on consecutive wins at Villa and Stoke when they host West Ham tomorrow.

The Hammers have problems of their own as the travel to Old Trafford just one point clear of the relegation zone, but United’s own turf isn’t the fortress it used to be and Big Sam’s troops could fancy their chances.

For United the equation is simple – win and they could make up some ground on one between Arsenal and Chelsea, drop more points and their Christmas pudding will taste awful.

3) Will Adebayor get another chance?

Amid the doom and gloom that coated Spurs’ defeat against West Ham in the quarter finals of the Capital One Cup, the fact that Emanuel Adebayor scored on his return to action went missing.

The Togolese striker was brought back from the cold by interim manager Tim Sherwood and repaid Sherwood’s choice with a fine finish, but will the Spurs’ caretaker be prepared to give Adebayor a chance in the Premier League?

With Spurs traveling to Southampton and in desperate need of a Christmas lift, pairing Adebayor and Roberto Soldado up-front could suddenly become a very appealing thought for Sherwood.

4) Crunch time for Sunderland

Gus Poyet’s arrival has undeniably had its positives, with Sunderland looking a much more compact side than under Paolo Di Canio, but for all their fighting spirit and surprise run in the League Cup, the Black Cats are still rock bottom in the Premier League.

Tomorrow’s game against Norwich is an absolute must win for Sunderland, particularly considering that two of the teams right above them, Fulham and West Ham, face Manchester City and Manchester United and could drop points.

The Canaries arrive on Wearside having won four points in the last two games and they will be determined to put further daylight between themselves and the relegation zone and the match’s outcome could go a long way in defining both clubs’ festive season.

5) Benteke’s drought coming at the wrong time for Villa

Christian Benteke hasn’t scored in his last 10 Premier League appearances and while Villa sit more or less comfortably mid-table, the Belgian’s drought could spell troubles for Paul Lambert’s men over the festive period.

Villa travel to Stoke on Saturday, before home fixtures against Palace and Swansea ahead of a trip to Sunderland on New Year’s Day and those four fixtures could define whether the Villans will spend the first half of 2014 looking up or over their shoulder.

To ensure the former happens, Villa need Benteke to rediscover his goalscoring boots. 

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