A clash between the second- and third-place teams in the Barclays Premier League is set for Sunday at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea entertains Liverpool.
Sounds like fun, right?
But first, check out the TV schedule here.
Now, on with the previews:
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Oh, no big deal. Just two clubs with title dreams playing in the late game on a Sunday.
Table watch: It’s two versus three as the Blues (18 points, second place) host the Reds (15 points, third place) at Stamford Bridge.
Recent memories: Last season, Liverpool ended Chelsea’s home unbeaten streak in this fixture. But later in the year, Chelsea responded by knocking the Reds from the Champions League in spectacular fashion.
They said it, part one: “I have never seen this team of mine struggle as much as we did in the first half. I was just so disappointed because we made so many mistakes and were made to pay for them.” – Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez after his team’s 2-0 loss to Fiorentina in mid-week Champions League play.
They said it, part two: “We have to play better. I’m not angry with the players. I have a lot of faith in this team and these players. I was a player for a lot of years myself, and I know when things don’t go well.” – Chelsea gaffer Carlo Ancelotti said after his team’s underwhelming 1-0 win over APOEL Nicosa.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Portsmouth
Wolves welcome in pointless Pompey to start the weekend’s action.
Table watch: Wolves are in 16th place on seven points while Portsmouth is still looking for its first positive result of the young season.
Money crunch: Something you never like to hear from the rich guys owning your club is “we’re broke.” But that’s the tune at Fratton Park.
“All the money from all the player transfers and the Sky TV money, all of the £35 million from January, has gone straight to the Standard Bank,” Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie said. “There is no money left.”
Headed for 0-0?: According to Eurosport, Wolves have failed to score in the last three league games against Portsmouth and the last five meetings between the teams at Molineux have all been draws. Hmm, there may be a trend there.
Hull City vs. Wigan
Bottom dwellers Hull City will look to start to climb in the standings when giant-killing Wigan comes calling.
Table watch: Hull City is in 19th place on four points while Wigan is five points ahead of them in 10th spot.
Oh captain, my captain: Phil Brown has named his fifth captain of the season. Nick Barmby will wear the armband this weekend as the Tigers try to snap out of their recent funk.
“This is something that has got Nicky’s name written all over it,” Brown told the Daily Mail. “He is a strong enough character in the dressing room. … He’s had a lot of close relationships with managers during his career and I feel as though I have got a close relationship with him. We speak frankly about things and we share things, none more so than about what is happening at Hull City at the moment.”
Lesson learned: “When you are a team like Wigan Athletic and you play against the top four you have two options,” Wigan manager Roberto Martinez told the Sunday Times. “You can beat them or you can get hammered — and that’s what happened when we lost 4-0 and 5-0. The reason we won is because we learned our lessons.
“We’ve been brave from the first second. Nobody can say we didn’t deserve the win and to say that against a special team like Chelsea is a big, big compliment to our football club.”
Bolton Wanderers vs. Tottenham
If Spurs want to hold off Manchester City, Arsenal and Aston Villa nipping at their heels, they’ll need a result at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.
Table watch: Bolton is in 13th place on seven points while Spurs are sitting fourth on 15 points.
Injury strikes Defoe: Spurs and England striker Jermain Defoe has a fractured hand and will likely miss
the game this weekend. Peter Crouch could start alongside in-form Robbie Keane up front.
Home and away: Bolton has one point in three home games while Spurs have already collected six points on their travels.
Burnley vs. Birmingham City
After getting walloped last week against Tottenham, Burnley is hoping for better luck at Turf Moor against Birmingham City.
Table watch: Burnley is in 11th spot on nine points while Birmingham is in 14th place with seven points.
A lack of options: With striker Christian Benitez headed back to Ecuador to be his his father, who was involved in a serious auto accident, City may struggle for goals this weekend. That, and the reports that Birmingham players were shouting at each other after last week’s loss to Bolton, isn’t a sign of happy times in the Second City.
They said it: “At this level, 50, 60, 70 minutes in the Premier League’s not good enough because of the quality they’ve got. If you switch off you’ll be punished and that’s what’s happened.” – Burnley boss Owen Coyle, to the Burnley Express on his team’s 5-0 loss to Spurs.
Manchester United vs. Sunderland
The Red Devils, fresh off a come-from-behind win over Wolfsburg in Champions League play, host Sunderland in the late game on Saturday.
Table watch: United is in the top spot wit 18 points on goal difference over Chelsea. Sunderland has 12 points, which is good for eighth position.
Match facts: Thanks to the good folks at Eurosport, we know the following:
United have won 11 and drawn three of the last 14 league meetings with Sunderland since the Black Cats last won against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in March 1997. … Sunderland’s last win at Old Trafford came in May 1968 when they won 2-1 a few weeks before Man Utd lifted the European Cup. … Sunderland have not kept a clean sheet since the opening day a run of six games. … Ryan Giggs has assisted on each of United’s last five league goals.
Arsenal vs. Blackburn Rovers
The Gunners can break back into the top four with a win and little help as they welcome Blackburn to London on Sunday.
Table watch: Arsenal is in six place on 12 points while Rovers are in 15th place on seven points.
A fixture in English football: Arsenal manager Arsene Wegner became the longest-serving manager in the club’s history on Thursday. “When you work abroad it is never easy because, frankly, they do not need you,” the Frenchman told the New York Times. “It is difficult to put into context today because now every foreign manager arrives on a red carpet. It was not like that when I arrived. They (Arsenal) needed to be, maybe not crazy, but certainly brave. However I believe I was lucky to find the support I found at Arsenal and that is always important for success.”
Everton vs. Stoke City
After an early season filled with blunders and woe, the Toffees appear to have their act together as the Potters come calling.
Table watch: Everton is in ninth place on nine points while Stoke City in in 12th spot on eight points.
Mid-week success: Everton rallied to win its Europa League tie on Thursday for its fifth straight win in all competitions.
Last time: Everton won this fixture last season, 3-1.
West Ham vs. Fulham
After an uninspired effort at Manchester City, West Ham will try to bounce back at Upton Park against Fulham.
Table watch: West Ham is in 18th place on four points while Fulham isn’t faring much better in 17th place, two points ahead.
Home form a worry: West Ham is winless in its two home fixtures so far this season.
History lesson: West Ham won this fixture last season with a 3-1 score line.
Aston Villa vs. Manchester City
Two teams with Champions League places on the brain clash at Villa Park on Monday.
Table watch: Villa is in seventh place on a dozen points while City is in fifth place on 15 points.
Not looking back: “If you asked me ‘would we still rather have Gareth around here?’ then the answer would be ‘definitely, absolutely.’ But Gareth (Barry) has moved on to Manchester City this summer and I think we have made a shift ourselves.” – Villa boss Martin O’Neill on his former player, to Goal.com.
Welcome back, Ade: Emmanuel Adebayor is done with his three-match ban and is eligible to play for City.