Preview: Blues looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats
Just when it seemed nothing could go wrong for Chelsea, the Blues have not only conceded their place at the top of the Premier League, but as things stand Chelsea’s place in the last four of the Champions League remains in jeopardy.
Mourinho’s men suffered their second defeat in four games in the league when an own goal from captain John Terry resulted in Chelsea dropping all three points at the Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace. Four days later the Blues were at the receiving end of another defeat as PSG got the better of the London side, subjecting Mourinho’s men to a 3-1 loss.
Preview: Last victory for Arsenal at the Britannia was in 2010
The last time Arsenal won a match at the Britannia, was in February of 2010. A 1-3 victory for the Gunners was the least of their concerns that day, as Aaron Ramsey was stretchered off with a broken leg, after a Ryan Shawcross tackle at midfield.
Ramsey will not be available for Saturday’s match, but two of the scorers from that victory will.
Nicklas Bendtner got the Gunners on the board that day, after they went down in the eight minute. A 90th minute spot kick from Cesc Fabregas gave the Gunners the lead, with Thomas Vermaelen adding his name to the score-sheet in the 94th minute.
Preview: City hoping to gain momentum in title race
Last time the Citizens played in the Premier League was two weeks back when they bored a 0-0 stalemate against Norwich City. Since then the Etihad side has had a league encounter against Sunderland postponed due to adverse weather conditions and now see themselves trailing Chelsea by three points. If Pellegrini's men succeed in winning both their match tonight as well as the match in hand, they can displace Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea from the top of the table having a much superior goal difference.
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: United poised to maintain unbeaten streak against Potters
Last time Stoke beat Manchester United was back in 1984, which implies that the Potters have never beaten the Red Devils in the Premier League era. The defending champions have won all of their last five matches against their counterparts and are unbeaten in their last 13 against their opponents on Saturday.
The hosts have not kept a clean sheet against United since 1983 and keeping their current form in mind, only a miracle will allow them to finish the match with a point.
Preview: Stoke looking to get the better of Chelsea again
Juan Mata’s imminent departure to fellow Premier League club Manchester United has grabbed all the media attention, but Chelsea will be hoping to keep that at the back of their mind when they face Stoke in a FA Cup encounter.
The Potters scored a 3-2 victory over the Blues last time the two sides met earlier in the season. An injury time winner from Liverpool loanee Oussama Assaidi gave Stoke all three points who will be fancying their chances when they visit the Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Preview: Liverpool looking for first league win at Britannia Stadium
Even though the Reds have fared well at the venue in the league cup matches against Stoke which includes the famous 8-0 victory in 2000, the Merseyside outfit have never scored a league victory at the Britannia Stadium.
Since Stoke were promoted to England’s top-tier league in 2008, the two teams have met five times at the Britannia Stadium and not once have Liverpool recorded all three points. This time around Liverpool will be looking to end the voodoo by putting a strong performance against the hosts.
Preview: Sherwood and Hughes contemplating victory at all cost
Tottenham Hotspur missed the opportunity to finish Matchday 18 above the Red Devils of Manchester United. Both teams have 31 points but Spurs’ dreadful defensive record (the worst in the top-half of the Premier League table with 24 goals conceded) puts them in eighth, one spot behind.
Mental power and aggressiveness inspired Spurs to a vital 3-2 win away to Southampton last weekend. But there was not much to cheer about on Boxing Day as the team failed to click in their 1-1 draw against West Bromwich Albion.
Preview: Moyes hoping to make it three wins in a row
The defending champions went on a four game winless run which also included back to back defeats at the hands of Everton and Newcastle before finding their way back with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Shakhtar followed by a convincing 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Moyes will now be hoping for his side to maintain consistency in their performances something which has been missing this season. A victory against Stoke on Wednesday will allow the Red Devils to book a place for themselves in the last four of the competition which will be the first time United make it to the semi-finals of a league cup since 2010, which was the last time they won the title.
Preview: Mark Hughes to face another litmus test for Potters’ new approach
Things were never going to be the same at Britannia Stadium when Mark Hughes was officially named as the replacement of long-serving manager Tony Pulis in the summer.
Pulis was the man behind Stoke’s consistent presence in the Premier League but the approach towards the game had seemingly gotten to everyone’s nerve. Now, the club has a manager who is a pure antithesis of the former manager.
Preview: Stoke has not defeated Manchester United since a League Cup match in 1993
When you look at the current league table, it may come as a surprise. You need to look down to the eight spot to find Manchester United, something that has not been a normal occurrence for quite sometime. And although Stoke is eight spots below them, only three points separate the two clubs.
Moyes' job at Old Trafford was not going to be easy, and through eight matches, it has shown.
The former Everton manager has put together three wins, two draws and three defeats in their opening six matches. United currently has 11 points, which is the lowest they have had going into week nine since 1989.
Preview: Arsenal looks to keep their perfect record at home against Stoke
It seems so long ago that Arsenal was defeated on opening day against Aston Villa, leading fans to come out and show their discontent. From lack of spending in the transfer window, to their inability to capitalize on their chances, critics and football analysts were all over what they considered a crisis in North London.
But call it what you want, Arsenal have since won six straight matches.
Three successive Premier League victories over Fulham, Tottenham and Sunderland have the Gunners second in the league standings, just one point behind Liverpool. Their two leg elimination against Fenerbahce gifted them yet another appearance in the UEFA Champions League, which got off to a great start mid-week when they defeated Marseille 1-2 at the Stade Velodrome.
Preview: City target a strong win in Mark Hughes reunion
The Welsh international managed the Etihad side for two seasons following which he was sacked and replaced by Roberto Mancini. The former Manchester United star also had stints at London clubs Fulham and Queens Park Rangers before replacing Tony Pulis at Stoke City.
Stoke under Hughes have had a bright start to the Premier League campaign having won two of the three matches they have played so far. A win on Saturday could take the Potters to the top four, a win for City on the other can possibly take them to the top of the table even if for a little while.
Preview: Rodgers looking to come out of the Suarez transfer saga with flying colours
A few hours earlier, it was reported that want away striker, Luis Suarez has apologised to his teammates for his recent actions.
The Uruguay international is keen on securing a move away from Anfield and for the past two months, his decision to go public about this affair, has dominated and overshadowed other affairs at the club.
However, it now appears that the dust is settling down. Brendan Rodgers, who has maintained a tough stance throughout this whole soap opera, would certainly be glad to know that his star player has realised how his words have hurt his teammates and the club. Now, it is time for the team to turn their attention towards the new campaign. In the first game, Liverpool take on Stoke City who under their new manager Mark Hughes, would be eying a better future at the Britannia Stadium.
Glenn Whelan, Andy Wilkinson and Marc Wilson are all doubtful for Stoke City. Sandro, William Gallas and Younes Kaboul are all out for the North London side. Mousa Dembele could be set to return after missing the 2-2 draw against Chelsea.
Spurs will leap to fourth in the Premier League table with a win this week…
Marc Wilson, Glenn Whelan and Matthew Etherington are all doubtful for Stoke. Darren Fletcher continues to be out for United with a chronic bowel condition. Nemanja Vidic, Paul Scholes, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Jonny Evans are all doubtful for the side from Manchester.
Stoke’s recent form…
The transfer window was coming to a close and Arsenal fans were desperately hoping that Arsene Wenger would announce more signings, but the truth is, Nacho Monreal turned out to be the only one.
At the age of 26, Monreal made the trip from Spanish League and Champions League side Malaga. With Kieran Gibbs out with a thigh injury and Andre Santos being a serious liability, the new Arsenal number 17 will most likely get his first start for the London side on Saturday.
Rory Delap and Marc Wilson are both out for Stoke with a calf muscle strain and broken leg respectively. Andy Wilkinson is slightly doubtful due to a back problem. Ryan Shotton has a hamstring injury. Maicon and Micah Richards are both out for City due to knee problems. Pablo Zabaleta is set to return for this clash. Abdul…