It isn't a full schedule of Premier League fixtures due to the FA Cup, but there are six games to keep a close eye on...
Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Anfield - Sunday 14:00
Tottenham, containing a red-hot Gareth Bale, visit Anfield on Sunday, hoping to continue their inspired run of form as they look to consolidate their third-place position.
Fans and reporters are beginning to run out of superlatives to describe Bale’s form, with bold comparisons being continually made to the likes of Messi and Ronaldo. It is understandable though, with the Welshman having netted an impressive 11 goals in his last nine games as Spurs have charged up the Premier League table.
Spurs form has been such that they are unbeaten in 12 league games, winning their last four. They are also faring well in Europe, cruising past Inter Milan 3-0 on Thursday evening.
Liverpool have also been on a good run of form though, despite the odd bad result blotting their copybook. The Reds have won five of the last six games at Anfield, scoring an impressive 20 goals in the process. Their last two league games have also seen them record 5-0 and 4-0 victories over Swansea and Wigan respectively too.
But it is Spurs who have had the most joy in this fixture in recent years, winning four of the last five league meetings between these sides. Gareth Bale was again amongst the goals when these sides met at White Hart Lane in November, scoring the second for Spurs to send them into a 2-0 lead, before then bizarrely turning into his own net to bring Liverpool back into the game.
Liverpool are set to be without Fabio Borini, Brad Jones, Martin Kelly and Martin Skrtel who are all injured; Daniel Sturridge returning should provide a welcome boost for Brendan Rodgers though.
Sandro and Tom Huddlestone will continue to be missing for Tottenham, although Emmanuel Adebayor and Clint Dempsey should return to the Spurs squad after missing out on Thursday.
Reading v Aston Villa - Madejski Stadium - Saturday 15:00
With less than ten Premier League games remaining, this game at the Madejski Stadium could prove to be vital to each side’s hopes of survival this season.
Reading’s chances of staying in the Premier League had long been written off coming into the Christmas period; however a run of just one defeat in seven games significantly improved Brian McDermott’s side’s survival chances. Three straight defeats, though, has seen the Royals slip back into the relegation places, just one point and place below Aston Villa.
A Christian Benteke goal was enough to separate these sides when they met at Villa Park in November; and with Wigan in FA Cup action this weekend, both sides know that a win will be enough to take them out of the relegation zone – temporarily at least.
Norwich City v Southampton - Carrow Road - Saturday 15:00
Three seasons ago, this fixture was a League One clash that Southampton won 2-0. Current Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert was in charge of Norwich and Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was then in the hot-seat at Saints. Russell Martin, Wes Hoolahan and Grant Holt all turned out for Norwich that day, and all are set to feature once again, while Saints also had Kelvin Davis, Jose Fonte, Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jason Puncheon and Rickie Lambert in their starting line-up that day.
Just two points and one position separates these two sides, with both knowing that a win would go a long way to relieving any relegations doubts they may have.
QPR v Sunderland - Loftus Road - Saturday 15:00
A win over Southampton last weekend saw QPR reduce the gap between themselves and safety reduced to just four points. Another win this week and they will be within touching distance of their ambition.
Facing them is a Sunderland side who are themselves not completely assured of Premier League safety. A run of five games without a victory sees the Black Cats just six points clear of the drop zone.
QPR’s record against Sunderland is somewhat underwhelming though, with the Hoops having not beaten the Black Cats in their last 11 meetings – a run that stretches back to 1991.
West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City - The Hawthorns - Saturday 15:00
Two of the season’s high-flyers go head-to-head at The Hawthorns on Saturday, as Swansea make the trip up to West Brom. Both sides are level on points heading into this clash as they look to stay in the race for European places – although Swansea already have a Europa League spot booked courtesy of their League Cup victory.
Swansea have won all three Premier League meetings between these sides, most recently of which was a 3-1 victory at the Liberty Stadium back in November.
Newcastle United v Stoke City - St. James’ Park - Sunday 15:00
Any lingering relegation concerns should be alleviated if Newcastle claim a victory over Stoke on Sunday. The Magpies form has improved somewhat over the past month following a run of just two wins in 14 games around the New Year period.
Newcastle held out for a goalless draw against Anzhi in their Europa League clash on Thursday and will be hoping the long trip to Russia and the short resting time between won’t hamper their performance against Stoke.
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