Top four battle heating up as Chelsea hopes to extend their lead amidst Bony’s debut

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The Barclays Premier League takes centre stage this weekend with Chelsea looking to extend their lead at the top and get themselves out of sight. Jose Mourinho seems to be happy with the situation at the moment and even insisted that he wants to remain at Chelsea for as long as possible. Manuel Pellegrini on the other hand hinted at a Wilfried Bony debut against Newcastle and hopes his Man City team will make up some ground in the title race.

However the real excitement seems to be just below the top two with Manchester United, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal fighting for the two remaining Champions League spots. The Red Devils sit in third place at the moment as they face a tough trip away to Swansea City. Southampton tackles Liverpool while Arsenal visits Crystal Palace as Tottenham entertain West Ham in a London derby.

On Saturday, Chelsea starts as huge favourites against Burnley. The Blues ran out 3-1 winners at Turf Moor back in August but Sean Dyche’s men have improved significantly since then. Mourinho’s men are coming off a 1-1 draw against PSG in midweek but should be able to walk away with all 3 points. Mourinho said 5 of his players were not well in Paris but will hope Diego Costa gets back to scoring goals while Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard should provide a threat from midfield. Burnley will hope their star striker Danny Ings has a good day up against John Terry and co and is capable of causing problems for the Blues defence.

City invites Newcastle to the Etihad with new signing Wilfried Bony poised for a debut. The defending champions cannot afford to drop any points at this time but Newcastle could cause a few problems. Yaya Toure should make a return to ease some of the pressure on David Silva and Kun Aguero but James Milner misses out with a knee injury. The Toon Army has been hot and cold this season but will be hoping Moussa Sissoko, Ayoze Perez and co can get something out of the game on the road.

Manchester United goes to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City as the best team in the league on form according to manager Louis van Gaal. With just 1 loss in 19 games, United should fancy their chances but has been poor on their travels this season. The Red Devils has just 3 wins in 12 on the road and drew 7 times. Having lost to the Swans in their season opener, Wayne Rooney and his team will look to paint the Liberty red. Robin van Persie and Phil Jones are available leaving van Gaal with just Michael Carrick as the noticeable absentee. Gary Monk knows his team has been below par in recent weeks but will hope Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jefferson Montero, Ashley Williams and Jonjo Shelvey can lead them to the double over United.

Arsenal travels to Selhurst Park facing a tricky test against Crystal Palace. Jack Wilshere has been passed fit to play but may find it difficult to get into this Arsene Wenger’s midfield. Alexis Sanchez should feature alongside Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin. Palace will again rely on pace of Yannick Bolasie and the guile of Jason Puncheon to create openings. Alan Pardew has enjoyed recent success of Wenger and it could be an exciting show for the fans at Selhurst Park.

Saturday’s encounters are completed by Sunderland facing West Brom, QPR visiting Hull City and Tim Sherwood takes charge of Villa for the first time as they play hosts to Mark Hughes’ Stoke City.

The big match on Sunday sees Liverpool travelling to Southampton. The Saints are just 4 points ahead of the Reds and will look to extend that gap. Brendan Rodgers on the other hand will be gunning to get into the Champions League race for next season. Daniel Sturridge has given them a massive boost on his return while Mario Balotelli seems to be finding his feet. Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho should also provide an attacking threat with Jordan Henderson hoping to stabilize things in midfield. The Saints will hope Saido Mane and Eljero Elia’s pace will cause problems for Liverpool at the back. Morgan Schneiderlin has been a rock in midfield for Ronald Koeman while Toby Alderweireld and Jose Fonte will be looking to carry-on their excellent partnership. The stakes are high in this fixture as neither team can afford to drop points.

Mauricio Pochettino welcomes Sam Allardyce to White Hart Lane and is looking for nothing less than 3 points. Big Sam would have been disappointed to lose 2 points late on at home against Man United and will have to compete without Andy Carroll possibly for the rest of the season. Harry Kane will look to carry-on with his red-hot form and will hope to continue his terrific link-up with Christian Eriksen. Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb should feature in midfield with Jan Vertonghen marshalling the defence protecting Hugo Lloris. Big Sam now has to rely on Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia for goals as well as Kevin Nolan.

The weekend rounds up with struggling Everton hosting bottom-of-the-table team Leicester City.