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: Can Chelsea overtake London rivals Arsenal in the table?
If Manchester City fails to beat Tottenham and Chelsea wins their match by a margin of two goals, the Blues will find themselves heading the Barclays Premier League tomorrow. Standing in front of them will be Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United. Most perhaps feel that West Ham do not have a chance against Chelsea. However, Spurs has already won one London derby this season when they beat Tottenham.
Winston Reid is not match fit while Mohamed Diame and Joe Cole are both doubtful for this one for West Ham. Andy Carroll is finally fit enough to feature for West Ham and might do so against Jose Mourinho’s side. Marco Van Ginkel and Fernando Torres are out for Chelsea. Allardyce knows about the challenge ahead of him and his side but is not ready to surrender just yet according to Sky Sports.
Preview: City poised to clinch a place in the final
Only an unlikely miracle will now prevent Pellegrini’s side to make it to the final of the Capital One Cup after a thoroughly dominating performance in the first leg. City demolished the Hammers 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium courtesy of an Alvaro Negredo hat-trick, an Edin Dzeko brace and another goal from talismanic midfielder Yaya Toure.
West Ham’s 6-0 deficit means that even a repeat of their finest performance against the sky blues, which saw them scoring a 6-1 victory over the Etihad side back in the 1962-1963 season will not be enough to see them through to the final. Furthermore the irons have not defeated City since 2009 when they scored a 1-0 victory at the Upton Park which was their only victory in 16 meetings between the two sides.
Preview: Can Manuel Pellegrini’s side secure a home win?
The plethora of injuries on both sides might make this match a less of a spectacle. Big Sam, however, surely will be looking forward to trying to hurt his rich opponent’s pride. West Ham has been struggling in the Premier League to say the least. They sit second from bottom, having collected only 15 points from 20 games. If their league home form is an indicator of their form at home in the Cup competitions, the day could turn out to be a long one for Allardyce. They have only won two home games in the Barclays Premier League.
Preview: Hammers looking to continue Arsenal's winless streak
The last time Arsenal won a match in any competition, was a 2-0 victory over Hull City at the Emirates on the 4th of December. Since then, the Gunners have drawn two league matches and lost one, while also losing against Napoli in their final group match of the Champions League.
During their winless streak, Arsene Wenger's defense has conceded nine goals in four matches, with six of them coming against Manchester City at the Etihad.
Preview: Moyes looking to improve home record
The Red Devils have fared poorly at home turf this season and their Scot manager will be hoping for a better showing when United host the Hammers at the theatre of dreams. Moyes’ side has managed just three victories in eight league matches played at Old Trafford something which has contributed to their low position in the league table.
United lost successive matches against Everton and Newcastle in their last two league home encounters and another defeat on Saturday will be the first time since 1979 the Red Devils lose three home games on the trot.
Preview: Can Tim Sherwood do the job?
Andre Villas-Boas was running out of time when his side conceded six without reply against Manchester City. Arsenal conceded six too but they do not have Daniel Levy pulling the strings of course. A horrific five-goal defeat to Liverpool, as was perhaps rather obvious from the moment of the final whistle, brought down the curtains on the Portuguese’s second stint at coaching in England.
Temporarily, Sherwood has been given the reins. He will not be able to call upon the injured trio of Jan Vertongen, Sandro and Younes Kaboul. Paulinho and Michael Dawson are both suspended. Vlad Chiriches and Emmanuel Adebayor are doubtful. Sam Allardyce has a lot of injury headaches of his own to deal with. Mladen Petric, Winston Reid, Ricardo Vaz Te, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll are all out of this one due to injuries while Kevin Nolan is suspended.
Preview: Spotlight on Luis Suarez
The Uruguayan is undoubtedly the man of the moment in England. His undisputable talent was exhibited in midweek when Liverpool hosted Norwich City. The game was of high importance – not so much because of the opposition’s size on paper, but because of the Merseyside Reds’ obligation to bounce back from their shocking 3-1 loss away to Hull City last weekend.
Buoyed by his individual great record against Norwich, Luis Suarez went on to do more than what was expected of him. He scored four goals – all of which were stunning – and provided an assist to Sterling as his side rounded up a fantastic 5-1 win.
Preview: Chelsea looking to get their season back on track
After dropping points in consecutive Premier League games against Newcastle and West Brom, Mourinho’s men will be hoping to make a statement when they face a struggling West Ham side. Chelsea’s season so far has been riddled with inconsistency, with their 2-0 loss against Newcastle coming at the back of triumphant outings against Arsenal and Manchester City.
In their last match against West Brom, the Blues were lucky to grab a point when they earned a controversial late penalty which was converted by Eden Hazard, but Chelsea should be aware of the fact that any more slip ups will put their place in the top four in jeopardy, with all of Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton only a point behind the London side.
Preview: Citizens keen to avoid another upset
The Hammers pulled out the shock of the EPL season before the international break by defeating Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at White Hart Lane. This was only their second win in the league among mixed results.
With eight points from a possible 21, West Ham United are in 13th position above Cardiff City on goal difference. Incredibly, only one point separates them from the relegation zone which is currently occupied by Fulham (7), Crystal Palace (3) and Sunderland (1) respectively.
Preview: Spurs poised to hammer relegation-threatened West Ham
The English Premier League is an amazing world this season with Manchester clubs’ dominance being strangled by the resurgence of London sides. Spurs are doing a great job and outstanding talisman Gareth Bale has already been forgotten.
Team play is key for Tottenham who boast of having the best defence in the EPL with only two goals allowed in over 540 minutes. Andre-Villas Boas’ men have not scored many (6 goals) but this does not appear to be a worry since they have managed to pick four wins from their six matches so far.
Winston Reid, Joe Cole and George McCartney are all out for the London side. Mark Noble and James Tomkins are doubtful. Ashley Young, Paul Scholes and Darren Fletcher are all out for Manchester United.
When West Ham asked Sam Allardyce to coach them, they took a risk in some ways. The West Ham faithful want their side to play beautiful football. Allardyce is a coach who knows how to make a team survive. Indeed, West Ham’s style of play has changed under the rugged coach. Allardyce’s team has nonetheless delivered results; they are twelfth in the table, far away from relegation. West Ham could legitimately finish in the top ten this season.
Red-hot Liverpool take on West Ham in what promises to be an extremely attractive English Premier League encounter at Anfield.
The Reds have won five out of their last six home games and will be hoping to continue their impressive record with a convincing win over West Ham on Sunday.
Liverpool, who feature Luis Suarez, the Premier League's highest goal-scorer…
Oriol Romeu remains the only absentee for Chelsea. For West Ham, Joe Cole has a hamstring problem. Kevin Nolan, George McCartney and Mark Noble are set to have late fitness tests to determine their eligibility for this one. Both Daniel Potts and Matthew Taylor are suffering from the aftereffects of concussion.
Villa was unhappy at Barcelona while Arsenal needed a great striker. All in all, Villa and Arsenal would be a match made in Heaven. However, Barcelona decided to step in. The Catalan club decided that they needed Villa to stay on for squad depth. The price tag for Villa was high too and Arsene Wenger, as we all…
The last meeting between these two sides did not start so well for Arsenal, but the Gunners were able to regroup and claim the three points. Having gone down 1-0 after Mohamed Diame scored in the 21st minute, Arsenal fans were starting to believe it was going to be one of those days.
Olivier Giroud got Arsenal even in the first half with Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla sealing the deal late in the second half with two very impressive strikes.
On Wednesday, Arsene Wenger may be able to have Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back in the squad after they missed the last match against Chelsea due to illness. Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin will also be out for Wednesdays match due to injury.
Wayne Rooney marked his return in Alex Ferguson’s starting XI with a 9th minute goal against West Ham United. This strike proved to be the only one in the game.
In the night’s other FA Cup, Jack Wilshere saved the day for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. The midfielder stole victory with an 86th minute strike.
Manchester United will now face Fulham in the Fourth Round of the 2012/13 English FA Cup whereas Arsenal will meet Brighton & Hove Albion. These matches will take place on January 26, 2013.
Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United video highlights
James Collins has a hamstring problem while Mark Noble has a calf injury for West Ham. Joey O’ Brien, Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame are all set to return for this clash. G McCartney has a MCL knee ligament injury. Nemanja Vidic and Ashley Young are both suffering from knee injuries for Manchester United. Anders Lindegaard is currently…
For a club that has won a record 11 times and reached 18 cup finals, it is fair to say that United are staring at trophy drought in this competition something akin to Arsenal's trophyless seasons.
Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs are the only two players with FA cup medals in this United squad. Which lead to this comment from Sir Alex Ferguson: "Rio has been with us 10 years and not won the FA Cup. It is amazing. We will have to do something about it."
After suffering their first home defeat of the season against Aston Villa last weekend, Liverpool will be totally focused on racking up three points against Fulham on Saturday.
Liverpool currently find themselves in 12th position of the table with 22 points, one position and two points ahead of Fulham after 17 rounds of the English Premier League.