Preview: Citizens hoping to return to winning ways
Pellegrini's men who looked destined for Premier League glory, have encountered a major hurdle in their quest for a second league title in three seasons having failed to record a victory in their last two matches. The Citizens who have already passed the 100 goal mark for the campaign have struggled for goals lately and after losing out to Chelsea at the Etihad, the Premier League’s top scorers failed to make an impression in their last outing against Norwich with the match ending in a stalemate.
Preview: Chelsea hoping to extend lead at the top
With Arsenal set to be involved in another difficult fixture as they go against defending champions Manchester United, Mourinho and Chelsea will be hoping to take advantage by further extending their lead at the top. With both the second and the third team in the Barclays Premier League set to play on Wednesday, a victory tonight could see the Blues distance themselves from their title rivals by four to five points.
Last time out a rampant Chelsea side scored an impressive victory over Newcastle United subjecting the magpies to a 3-0 defeat. The victory at Stamford Bridge came a week after Chelsea became the only English club this season to defeat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. The standout performer during that night was Belgian star Eden Hazard who followed his impressive showing against the Citizens with a hat trick against Newcastle.
Preview: An uphill task for Spanish Cup champions Atletico
Almost there. Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane are about to experience their first ever Copa del Rey final as managers at Real Madrid. However, as much as upsets happen in football, the Spanish giants remain cautious ahead of Tuesday night’s encounter on the turf of their city rivals.
Atletico Madrid surprisingly conceded three goals without reply at the Santiago Bernabeu last week. This 3-0 first leg defeat requires Diego Simeone to be very smart this time round. What is worse for the Copa del Rey defending champions is that they will be without Diego Costa. The Brazilian-born striker picked up a booking and must now serve suspension.
A beating at the hands of Liverpool might just be the start of the end of what promised to be a successful season for the Gunners, one which would bring an end to their barren trophy less run. 24 matches into the season Wenger’s cavalry looked strong, the partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny had not lost a single match for over a year and looked defiant to keep their record intact.
Within 20 minutes of their 25th league match of the season, the Arsenal side seemed a mere fraction of the team they had been all season long as the Reds steamrolled them scoring four goals in quick succession.
Preview: Claudio Ranieri and co out to prove title credentials
A clash which has been termed as “El Cashio” owing to the immeasurable cash vaults of both the clubs, could have a major impact on the title race this season. Second place Monaco are just five points adrift of defending champions PSG and could close the gap to two points if they manage to notch all three points in what is expected to be a scintillating encounter.
However prior to the match coach Claudio Ranieri has recognised the brilliance of Laurent Blanc’s team and has claimed that the league leaders are head and shoulders above his side in terms of quality.
Preview: Chance to go top again should be extra incentive for Barcelona
Barcelona will head into Sunday’s match away to Sevilla knowing that a victory could put them back in the lead. Although Real Madrid defeated Villareal on Saturday at the Bernabeu, front-runners Atletico Madrid were unable to grab points away to Almeria.
Tata Martino’s men will now try to grab three points from a Sevilla side that has only won five matches at home, from a total of 10.
Sunday’s match will be the first time in over a year that Barcelona take the pitch in league play, out of first place. With that said, Martino will have to make some adjustments to his squad.
Preview: Sporting aiming to end their winless streak at the Estádio da Luz
The Lisbon Derby always brings out the best of both these clubs. Sporting’s recent record at the Estádio da Luz should also give them some extra incentive to want to come out on top.
This meeting between Lisbon’s giants will involve a lot of passion, rivalry and love for the game. When Benfica and Sporting CP meet, it always means more than just a match, or even just the three points that are at stake. And on Sunday afternoon, both these sides will battle for the top spot in the Portuguese League.
Sunday’s match will be their 301st official meeting against each other.
Preview: Bad moments for both sides
Fulham’s hunt to stay in the top flight now has to go on without ex-Man United striker Dimitar Berbatov. In the last moments of the January transfer window, the Bulgarian star left for AS Monaco to replace injured striker Radamel Falcao.
The Cottagers are rooted at the bottom of the English Premier League table but by the end of Matchday 24, only six points separated them from eleventh-placed Stoke City. In order words, things are tight in the second half of the standings and Fulham could easily find themselves in the safe zone – provided they hit a few right nails during the coming weeks.
Preview: Lazio confident of putting an end to Roma’s win streak
Rudi Garcia’s men have enjoyed an incredible start to the season and currently occupy the second position in the Serie A trailing leaders Juventus by nine points with a game in hand.
The Lupi are on an incredible run having won all of their last five matches and will be looking to record their sixth consecutive win as they hope to keep their Scudetto hopes alive.
Preview: Can Everton manage to edge closer to Europe?
By manipulating the system of loans and playing a very attractive style, Everton has flourished under Roberto Martinez. Martinez has turned Everton from David Moyes’ low budget project into a genuine contender for the crown itself, let alone a European spot. The line between contender and pretender is quite thin in this campaign filled with surprises nonetheless and Everton must prove their mettle against Tim Sherwood’s Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham of course was not playing the part of a contender at all until Sherwood took to gliding up and down the touchline every match day. Spurs have played freely and positively and reaped the rewards, none more so than Emmanuel Adebayor who is beginning to resemble the deadly striker Arsenal once knew. A rift between him and former boss Andre Villas Boas had left him rotting away; he reflected this week on that relationship according to BBC:
Preview: Benitez and co looking to respond after a disappointing week
The Partenopei have lost both of their last two matches and will be hoping for a positive response as they aim on closing down the six point gap between themselves and second placed Roma. Roma got the better of Benitez’s side last time out as they gunned down Gli Azzurri 3-2 courtesy of a late goal from new signing Gervinho.
Napoli are now left with a slender disadvantage as they will hoping to turn around the deficit in their favour in the second leg, but despite the defeat Benitez remained optimistic and spoke of the positives from the match.
Preview: The first of three games without Ronaldo
Carlo Ancelotti has enough talent at his disposal and may not struggle in the absence of red-carded Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese’s role is expected to be taken by flamboyant starlet Jese and returning winger Gareth Bale.
Meanwhile, Di Maria and Modric are set to keep their spots in the starting XI after impressing the Santiago Bernabeu crowd during Real Madrid’s remarkable 3-0 win against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey in midweek.
Preview: Little Horse, Big Horse, Rich Horse
Jose Mourinho is either very superstitious or he simply likes to play mind games. His declaration that Chelsea is only a little horse in the title race left everyone amused.
“The title race is between two horses and a little horse that needs milk and needs to learn how to jump.” (BBC)
He indicated that Arsenal, a team that has not won a title for almost a decade now, and Manchester City, a team that his side beat using superior tactics, are the big horses. Manuel Pellegrini seems to have found Jose’s comments laughable and reminded Jose about the unlimited funds available to him according to the Guardian.
Preview: Can Nürnberg continue their wonderful run of form?
The six previous derbies at the Grundig between the two sides saw Bayern pick up a solitary victory. Nürnberg usually likes to save their best for their neighbors. Markus Feulner of Nürnberg, a former Bayern man, reflected his team’s attitude towards the match best with his words, as noted by Bayern’s official website:
“It’s a massive event for us. We get to test ourselves against the best team in the world. We’ll try and make it a very, very good game.”
Preview: Can the Citizens rise up again?
They are back to planet Earth. They were flying high, almost too high. With 11 wins in 11 home games and a total of 42 goals scored in the process, the Etihad Stadium transformed into one of the scariest grounds in Europe. Visitors went in without keys, were locked for 90 minutes and tormented throughout.
But last Monday, Jose Mourinho aka the Special One did what Arsenal, Liverpool and several other clubs couldn’t: to triumph at the Etihad and prevent the hosts from scoring a single goal.
The Blues tactically dominated the opposition. Chelsea hit the post three times. If it wasn’t for bad luck, Man City would have ended the night red-faced with a heavier defeat than the 1-0 loss they suffered.
Preview: Liverpool will try to break a bad streak against the Gunners
It has been quite some time since Liverpool has managed to defeat the Gunners in Premier League play at Anfield. You have to go all the way back to 2007, when the Reds defeated Arsenal 4-1, with a hat-trick from Peter Crouch.
Nearly seven long years since that victory, Brendan Rodgers will hope his squad can change their fortunes.
Earlier this season when these two sides met at the Emirates, the North London side came out on top 2-0. A first half goal from Santi Cazorla was capped off with a brilliant strike from Aaron Ramsey. The Welsh international will not feature due to an injury, but Liverpool's back-four will have to keep a close eye on the Spaniard.
The talk of relegation is not usually taken so seriously in February but the unpredictability of the Barclays Premier League this season has been miraculous, sparking up the most contested battle to beat the drop in the league's history.
From Aston Villa who currently sit in tenth spot down to the bottom it can be safely suggested that none of the teams are free from the drop. Only eight points separate the eleven clubs involved whilst the results in the league have been more than a little erratic.
Preview: Barcelona should be motivated to bounce back
Real Sociedad will head into the Camp Nou facing a difficult challenge. The Txuri-Urdin are coming off a four goal thumping at the Vicente Calderon against Atletico Madrid, with put the Madrid side at the top of the La Liga table.
The hosts will be equally frustrated on Wednesday, after their disappointing performance at the weekend.
Playing at home is normally a very good chance for the Blaugrana to win, but Valencia had other ideas. Los Che scored three goals, more than any other team has scored at the Camp Nou this season, and defeated Tata Martino's squad.
Preview: Revenge mission – Ronaldo's Real to fail or succeed?
Cristiano Ronaldo’s name is making a lot of rounds in the media today – not only because he is celebrating his 29th birthday, but because the verdict following his dissmissal against Athletic Bilbao on Matchday 22 of La Liga has fallen. CR7 has been slapped with a three-match ban but it only applies in the league.
Coincidentally, Ronaldo’s penultimate sending off happened at the Santiago Bernabeu against Atletico Madrid; that was in the Copa del Rey final, last season. This Wednesday, the visitors and their traveling fans might do all they can to provoke Ronaldo in their favour. While the Ballon d’Or winner’s temper is set to be tested once more, his desire to make up for his moment of madness at San Mames could work out in Real Madrid’s favour.
Ahead of the decision by the Spanish FA, FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique gave his take on the situation, saying:
"Even on TV it looked dubious. I know Cristiano; he raised his hand, but it wasn't a big deal, it wasn't violent conduct."
Real Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza added more, during an interview with Canal Plus. He declared:
"It seemed simply unfair to me, if anyone deserved a red card, it was the one who started it off. Cristiano should have stayed on the pitch.
"It seems to me that Gurpegi is the first to put his hands on Cristiano's chest, and then tries to trick the referee as he exaggerates. We must have another look at the incident, calmly, and our legal department will decide whether to appeal or not."