Well what a time for Manchester City to suffer their first Premier League defeat of the season! With five matches in the next two weeks, the race for the title is set to take even more twists and turns over the busy Christmas and New Year period.
There are some absolutely cracking matches to look forward to this weekend with five games kicking off at three o’clock on Saturday.
Blackburn Rovers versus West Brom at Ewood Park has turned into a bit of a six-pointer, after the Baggies’ home defeat to Wigan last week. Rovers are four points from safety after their last-gasp loss at Sunderland, with Roy Hodgson’s side just a point further away.
Twelfth takes on tenth at Goodison Park as Everton welcome Norwich City. For me, Norwich have been the pick of the promoted sides so far and to be ahead of the likes of the Toffees at this stage of the season is a success in itself.
The bottom side Bolton Wanderers will be well aware that very few sides who are propping up the rest on Christmas Day avoid relegation, so will see a trip to an unpredictable Fulham as a chance to get themselves off the foot of the table ahead of Tuesday night’s massive Lancashire derby at Blackburn.
Newcastle United will get their chance to pay tribute to former player Gary Speed as they welcome Swansea City to St James’s Park. Both teams have over-exceeded expectations after fifteen matches, and with no real pressure on either side, don’t be surprised if events off the pitch contribute to a lacklustre match on it.
Wolves will be targeting a travel-weary Stoke City as they look to make it a third successive win at Molineux. Stoke haven’t avoided defeat after an away Europa League match since August, and will no doubt feel the full effects of their midweek trip to Turkey.
Surely the banker of the weekend is Chelsea to win at Wigan Athletic in the Saturday evening kick-off? Chelsea have won four of their last five matches in all competitions and will be full of beans after beating Manchester City. Despite back-to-back wins on the road, Wigan have only won once at home all season and that was back in August against QPR.
The remaining four matches all take place on Sunday.
Queens Park Rangers host Manchester United in a Premier League fixture for the first time since 1995/96 at lunchtime. Rangers have only won one of their seven home matches and I think even a United team without Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher and seven other first-teamers will have too much for the Hoops.
There’s another test of Liverpool’s top-four credentials as they travel to Aston Villa. Kenny Dalglish’s side have been impressive away from home with wins at Arsenal and Chelsea but defeats at Fulham and Stoke will give Villa hope that they can beat a top six team for the first time this season.
Tottenham host a Sunderland side buoyed by making a winning start under new boss Martin O’Neill. Whether referee Chris Foy was the reason that Spurs lost at Stoke last weekend or not, Harry Redknapp will be keen to make sure that they get back to winning ways and pounce on any slip-ups by the two Manchester clubs.
As they did last weekend, the leaders Manchester City wrap up the weekend’s action and yet again take on a London club bursting to upset the apple cart. Roberto Mancini’s side host Arsenal and they’ll be looking to emulate last season’s 4-1 success at the Etihad Stadium. After seeing their unbeaten run ended at Chelsea on Monday, it will be very interesting to see how the title favourites react to their first defeat of the season.
In Episode 14 of the Ultimate Sport Preview Podcast, Dan and Kev discuss in detail this weekend's Premier League matches and the big games in the Football League.
Can the leaders Manchester City make it 15 games unbeaten away at Chelsea? How will Manchester United cope without Nemanja Vidic? How will Tottenham deal with Stoke at the Britannia Stadium? Can Martin O'Neill get off to a winning start as Sunderland boss?
All will be revealed in this Friday's Ultimate Sport Preview.