EPL: Leaders Arsenal take on Chelsea, United face Soton challenge
Table toppers Arsenal will face defending champions Chelsea in arguably the most important game of the week.football Updated: Jan 22, 2016 22:03 IST
It is going to be a whole new situation for Chelsea this time as unlike in previous seasons, only one team will be looking to enhance its Premier League title challenge when they face Arsenal on Sunday.
Arsenal, which leads the league on goal difference ahead of Leicester, is coming into the match after a pair of draws, while still-struggling Chelsea has four draws and one win from its last five matches since Guus Hiddink took over from Jose Mourinho.
“Even if Chelsea are not in the best position, look at their squad. It’s a big game because of the quality of the players on the pitch,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “It has a big importance to us as well. We play at the Emirates and know how important it will be to win this game.”
Arsenal should be helped by the return of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. Ozil, the team’s leader in assists with 16, is expected to start.
Defending champion Chelsea has shown glimpses of the ability that led it to the title last season, but the team could be without Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on Sunday because of injury.
Willian, however, still believes in his squad.
“We know in the Premier League it is difficult to win and the game is away, but we have to go there together,” the Brazil winger said. “Arsenal have a great team, we know that, but we know we can do it and bring back three points to Stamford Bridge.”
Leicester will host Stoke on Saturday with a chance to put the pressure on Arsenal. Third-place Manchester City, a point behind Arsenal and Leicester, visits West Ham, also on Saturday.
Rest of the fixtures: Norwich vs. Liverpool; Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham; Manchester United vs. Southampton; Sunderland vs. Bournemouth; Watford vs. Newcastle; and West Bromwich Albion vs. Aston Villa. On Sunday, Everton hosts Swansea.
While Leicester’s recent form has been mixed, with three draws and a loss in its past five matches, the partnership of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez is still capable of wreaking havoc in the opposition’s defense.
Man United, two points adrift of fourth place, will be looking for Wayne Rooney to continue his good form of four goals in his last three Premier League matches. But with only five wins in 10 matches at home this season, Old Trafford is not the fortress it once was.
City will be playing at West Ham hoping to improve on its struggling away form. The 2014 champions have earned only 15 of a possible 30 points away from home this season.
“The game against West Ham will be very important for us because we are in the title race, fighting game by game, and we need to reach a consistency with a series of wins,” City defender Nicolas Otamendi said. “It’s very important for us to win at Upton Park and that’s what we will be fighting for on Saturday.”
First Published: Jan 22, 2016 19:25 IST