We’re coming to that stage of the season where every game is a 6 pointer, with relegation, European spots, and the title, still a long way from being decided.
This weekend sees a potential 9 pointer, and the out-of-form Tottenham travel to Stamford Bridge in Saturdays early kick-off.
They will then both sit down and cheer on Aston Villa, as they travel to the Emirates stadium to try and halt a run of 6 straight wins for the home side.
Newcastle wait until Sunday for their game against West Brom, they sit just 2 points off Chelsea, and will look to capitalise should the Blues not take maximum points.
First, we look ahead to the early kick-off, and that potential Champions League decider.
Chelsea vs. Tottenham (1245 GMT)
They don’t get much bigger than this. A London derby with tons of history, and now Harry Redknapp takes his side to Stamford Bridge chasing their first win in 5 games, and after being touted as title contenders just weeks ago, they are struggling to hold onto 4th place.
It is bound to be an exciting game, both teams have attacking prowess, Spurs with pace that would frighten any team, and Chelsea with the likes of Mata, Torres, and Drogba, have goals in them.
With an amazing 15 losses in 21 visits to Stamford Bridge, Spurs would snatch a draw if you offered it now, which would maintain their 5 point gap over their opponents, although Arsenal could pull away further from them with their game at 3pm.
Despite the loss at Man City in midweek, Chelsea have reasons to be upbeat, being the first side to take the lead at the Etihad, and keeping them at bay for a large chunk of the match, despite resting John Terry, who should be fit for this encounter, along with Oriel Romeu who recovers from a knee strain.
Branislav Ivanovic was forced off early on Wednesday, so will be a doubt for the game, although still could feature.
Spurs have their own injury concerns, the problematic Aaron Lennon is ruled out again, but is back in training, whilst Ledley King and Emmanuel Adebayor will be assessed before the game.
Every stat tells a different story for Chelsea. They have lost 3 of their last 5 league games, but are unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in 2012. Frank Lampard is also one short of becoming the first midfielder to reach 150 Premier League goals.
I think this game will go with the form book, and I fancy Chelsea to edge the game, and after breaking even with my bets from Chelsea vs. Man City, this is what I fancy.
Chelsea to win by 1 – 3/1 – 5 points
Chelsea to win by 2 – 4/1 – 5 points
Draw/Chelsea – 15/4 – 4 points
Prediction: Chelsea 2 – 1 Tottenham
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa (1500 GMT)
Arsenal cannot be complacent against an Aston Villa side who have conceded just 2 goals in their last 4 games, Alex McLeish finding the defensive form that has been key to his managerial success.
However, six straight league wins for the Gunners means they won’t fear the Midland side at all, having score 19 goals in those six games, conceding six. They have also beaten Villa twice already this season, including the famous cup win where they we’re two-nil down before coming back to win 3-2.
The home team have no new injuries to speak of, so Wenger might well keep the same side that beat Everton in midweek.
Andreas Wiemann may start for the visitors, after scoring the late winner last time out against Fulham, especially as Charles N’Zogbia is a doubt.
With Robin Van Persie in slightly unreal form, 44 goals in 46 league games, he will be key man again, and if the Gunners do score early, they would easily inflict pain on the defence, as they proved against Tottenham and Blackburn, they can score goals at the Emirates.
Darren Bent was the hero here last season, scoring a brace in the 2-1 win here, but of course is ruled out for the season now, leaving scoring options very limited for Villa.
The following bets look very nice for the weekend, especially as I was so far off in midweek.
Arsenal to win to nil – 11/10 – 10 points.
Arsenal to win both halves – 7/4 – 4 points
Last Goalscorer – Andreas Wiemann – 16/1 – 1 point
Prediction: Arsenal 3 – 0 Aston Villa
West Brom vs. Newcastle (Sunday 1600 GMT)
This game proved a cracker earlier in the season, with Paul Scharner scoring a late winner in a 3-2 victory for Albion.
With Newcastle chasing 5th spot and the Europa League, West Brom have their own chase, as just 3 points separate 7 teams in the “best-of-the-rest” category, stretching from 8th to 14th.
The Baggies have been inconsistent at best, a 4-0 spanking of Sunderland, followed by a 1-0 victory over Chelsea, whilst last week they scrapped a draw against Wigan.
A fabulous goal from Papa Cisse separated the Toon and Norwich last week, after they were harshly beaten by Arsenal the week before.
Both sides have basically their whole roster to choose from, Chiek Tiote the only doubt for Newcastle, and Peter Odemwingie should be fit for the home side.
I fancy this to be a close one, and with both sides with in-form goal keepers, it could be a case of who gets broken down first, and Newcastle are a huge price going by recent form, although I can see a draw the most likely outcome.
My favourite bets for this game are:
Newcastle to win – 21/10 – 5 points
Under 2.5 goals – EVS – 5 points
Prediction: West Brom 1 – 1 Newcastle
With all three teams playing at different times, there could be just 3 points separating Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham by 3pm, should Chelsea win, meaning an Arsenal win would go a long way to securing third place, leaving Chelsea, Spurs, and outsiders Newcastle in the race for 4th, should they beat West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
By Brad Smith
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