It hasn’t been a great week for Liverpool, with its elimination from contention for the knockout stages of the Champions League casting a larger shadow on a season that’s already looking a bit dim.
It hasn’t been a much better week for Everton, with a 3-2 loss at Hull in mid-week sticking in its crawl like an undetected wishbone.
And that sets the scene for a Merseyside Derby on Sunday – a chance to brighten the skies a bit.
And, before you have a leftover turkey sandwich, let’s run through the week’s matches:
Everton vs. Liverpool
Table watch:Everton is in 14th place on 15 points while Liverpool is in seventh place with 20 points.
The series:In league play, the Reds have won 67 matches while Everton has won 56 times. There have also been 56 draws.
Getting a few shots in: United Gary Neville got a dig in at the Reds this week saying, “We are where we are because we deserve to be there and it’s the same with Liverpool,” he told the Times. “We went out ourselves a few years back. They just haven’t performed well enough in the Champions League to get the result.”
Arsenal vs. Chelsea
The Gunners will try to reel in Chelsea a bit when the two top-three sides meet at the Emirates on Sunday.
Table watch: Arsenal is in third place on 25 points while Chelsea is still in first with 33 points.
Injury issues:William Gallas is set to miss out with an eye injury, joining defenders Gael Clichy and KieranGibbs on the sidelines for the Gunners. With Frank Lampardreturning to full strength, aside from Jose Bosingwa, Chelsea is virtually injury-free.
Drogba drooling:Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has scored eight goals in his last eight matches against Arsenal in all competitions.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Birmingham
Wolves will try to escape the relegation zone when Birmingham comes calling Saturday.
Table watch: Wolves are in 19th place on 10 points while Birmingham is in 13th place on 15 points.
Streaking: In their last seven meetings, Birmingham has not lost against Wolverhampton.
They said it: “We will be judged on three of the four next games most certainly – and they are the big important games coming up for us.” – Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, to the UKPA.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Stoke City
A pair of mid-table sides collide at Ewood Park Saturday.
Table watch: Blackburn is in 12th position on 16 points while the Potters are in ninth place with 19 points.
Trying to bounce back:Rovers are hoping a return home changes their fortunes, after falling 3-0 at Fulham in mid-week.
Trying to do better: Stoke City will look for a better result than it got last year in this fixture – a 3-0 defeat.
Fulham vs. Bolton Wanderers
Fulham will try to keep its good run of home form going on Saturday when Bolton visits Craven Cottage.
Table watch:Fulham is in 10th place on 18 points while Bolton is in 18th place on 11 points.
Falling fast: Bolton has dropped four straight matches in all competitions.
Double dipping: The Whites won both league matches with Bolton last season, including a 2-1 result at Craven Cottage.
Manchester City vs. Hull City
If City has top-four dreams, this is the sort of match it needs three points from.
Table watch: City is in sixth place on 21 points while Hull City sits in 15th place with as many points.
Match facts: From our friends at Eurosport – Five of the last six league meetings between Man City and Hull have ended as home wins. … Man City have drawn their last six Premier League matches – the all-time top-flight record is seven in a row. … Manchester City have kept only one clean sheet in their last nine league games. … The only away team to win at Eastlands in 2009 is Fulham.
Portsmouth vs. Manchester United
New manager Avram Grant gets to host United in his first game in charge at Pompey.
I’m sure he’s thrilled.
Table watch: Portsmouth is in 20th place on seven points while United is second on 28 points.
Three points – one way or the other:Only one of the last 18 EPL games at Fratton Park has ended in a draw.
Shaking it off:The Red Devils may be in a foul mood after having a 23-game unbeaten run at Old Trafford snapped with a 1-0 loss to Besiktas in Champions League play in mid-week.
West Ham United vs. Burnley
The Hammers will try to climb farther away from the drop zone when the Clarets drop in on Saturday.
Table watch:West Ham is in 17th place on 11 points while Burnley is in 11th place on 17 points.
Goose egg:The Clarets are winless in nine games with West Ham in all competitions.
Wigan Athletic vs. Sunderland
The Latics will try to inch towards the middle of the table when the Black Cats visit on Saturday.
Table watch: Wigan is in 16th place on 14 points while Sunderlandresides in eighth place on 20 points.
Bent back?: Sunderland striker Darren Bent was thought to have a hamstring pull, but the Daily Mail reports that he trained this week and could feature.
Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Saturday concludes with a nice match between clubs intent on crashing the top four.
Table watch: Aston Villa is in fifth place on 22 points while Spurs are in fourth on 25 points.
Offensive explosion: How impressive was Spurs’ nine-goal outburst against Wigan last week? Five Premier League clubs haven’t reached that number in their home matches this season.
A guess for the scoreline: Four of the last five matches between these two clubs have ended at 2-1.