Photo:Yaya Toure battles Paulinho for possession of the ball (Getty Images)
The Barclays Premier League (BPL) returns on Saturday after the international break with a mouth-watering clash between champions Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur. City will be hoping to make it three wins on the trot as they look to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the standings. The Citizens sit in second place on 14 points, 5 behind leaders.
Tottenham has had a stop-start season so far with Mauricio Pochettino’s men sitting 6th in the table just 3 points behind the champions. The Spurs made an impressive start but has been pegged back in their quest to finish in the top four.
Both teams may have players sitting out this fixture with Spurs set to make late checks on Hugo Lloris and Nacer Chadli who picked up knocks during the international break. Nabil Bentaleb and Emmanuel Adebayor arrived late from international duty, so they may also miss out on the game. Kyle Naughton and Kyle Walker remain sidelined for Spurs with injuries.
Manuel Pellegrini will be without the services of Samir Nasri and Fernandinho due to injury while Yaya Toure is also a doubt. The champions will be looking to take all three points as they aim to replicate their 6-0 and 5-1 victory over the Spurs from last season.
Also on Saturday, leaders Chelsea are away at Selhurst Park as they tackle Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace. The Blues lost there last season 1-0 thanks to a John Terry own goal and they will hope to get it right this time around. Jose Mourinho could be without Diego Costa as his struggles with a hamstring injury continues.
Warnock should have a fit squad to select from as he tries to bounce back from a 2-0 loss to Hull City before the international break. He will be hoping Mile Jedinak, Adrian Mariappa, Wilfried Zaha and Frazier Campbell can hold Chelsea and cause a few problems as well.
Arsenal is also in action on Saturday as they welcome Hull City to the Emirates. The Gunners are experiencing an injury crisis with several stars out injured including Mathieu Debuchy, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud. However Theo Walcott has returned to training and played 45 minutes in a U21 match.
Steve Bruce will be looking to keep the momentum going after their win against Crystal Palace but will be without Allan McGregor and Robert Snodgrass through injury. Ahmed Elmohamady should be fit while Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez will hope to make their first start for the Tigers.
Other fixtures on Saturday see Burnley hosting West Ham, Aston Villa visiting Everton, Newcastle welcomes Leicester City and Southampton entertaining Sunderland. On Sunday, Liverpool will be looking to secure all three points against QPR while Stoke City will hope to secure three big points at home when they take on Swansea City.
The weekend ends with Manchester United travelling to the Hawthorns on Monday to tackle West Brom. Louis van Gaal has seen his team reach the top four with back-to-back wins but is yet to put in a convincing performance. He will be without suspended skipper Wayne Rooney but Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young are all in contention to return from injury.
West Brom is capable of causing many problems especially with the pace they have in attack. England U21 striker Saido Berahino is looking superb and if he turns up on Monday the Red Devils’ defense will have their hands full.
The excitement is back in the English top flight and the neutrals will be hoping for lots of goals. The fixtures are quite interesting with some teams desperately needing to get points on the board. Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Man United will be looking to secure wins as the fight for Europe next season is beginning to take shape.