With the race for third and fourth place in the Premier League set to go down to the wire, the eventual winners and losers can make great strides this Wednesday, as they are all in action. Third-placed Tottenham host Stoke at White Hart Lane, fourth placed Arsenal travel to take on Everton at Goodison Park, whilst Chelsea take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Tottenham vs Stoke
Spurs looked to be home and dry three matches ago, but consecutive defeats at the hands of Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton has seen their ten-point lead over the chasing pack reduced to a solitary point. Whether it is talk of Harry Redknapp taking the England job or just a difficult run of fixtures is irrelevant; Tottenham need to stop the rot against Stoke on Wednesday.
The north London side will want revenge against Tony Pulis’ men, as the Britannia outfit sneaked home 2-1 in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign under dubious circumstances. If Spurs beat the Potters they could reopen a bit of breathing room due to difficult games for their two London rivals, and with a trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday the White Hart Lane team need three points. If they do not get victory, pressure and the record of experience of their two bigger rivals could start to weigh heavy on the attacking, but at times naïve side.
Everton vs Arsenal
Arsenal have been on a good run of form of late and have won their last four games in all competitions, which ironically started with their 5-2 north London derby demolition of Tottenham. Arsene Wenger’s men now sit only a point behind Tottenham, and will be eager to stay in touch with their bitter rivals.
However Everton will not pose an easy opponent; David Moyes’ men have beaten Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea at Goodison Park in the last six weeks and are starting to look more combative, confident and clinical in attack. The January introductions of Steven Pienaar and Nikica Jerlavic have given the Merseysiders added bite going forward, and the Gunners will know that a tricky fixture awaits. A win could mean they jump up to third, anything else and they may drop to fifth.
Manchester City vs Chelsea
Chelsea’s poor season to date saw the end of Andre Villas Boas as coach, but the dismissal has seemingly instilled a breath of fresh air into the underfire club. With former midfielder Roberto Di Matteo now at the helm, the senior players have started to stand up and regained their pride with four consecutive victories under the Italian coach.
The Stamford Bridge outfit will feel that Manchester City are there for the taking after their recent wobble at home and on the continent, but Roberto Mancini’s men have an imperious home record this term and know that they have to close the four-point gap on Manchester United at the top. Arguably the most mouth-watering of three good games, this match could go either way and will be a real test to Chelsea’s newfound confidence. The Blues are currently three points behind Arsenal and four behind Spurs, so victory here and at home against Redknapp’s men could put them back in contention. However defeat could mean an uphill struggle for a team in transition.