Pearson Previews…

Arsenal Football Club

Saturday’s early kick off sees Arsenal travel to Stamford Bridge in possibly the most difficult fixture of this season’s calendar. This game comes just days after a poor result for the Gunners at home to out of form Watford. That defeat meant that Arsenal slipped down to third in the league and fell further behind leaders Chelsea who drew away at Liverpool. The last time these teams met, it was Arsenal who came out on top in a 3-0 victory at the Emirates. That was the game which saw Antonio Conte change tactics and his team have now dropped points in only 2 of the last 16 fixtures.

Second place Tottenham welcome Middlesbrough to White Hart Lane on Saturday. Nothing less than a win is needed for Spurs if they are to keep any aspirations on taking the league title for themselves. Middlesbrough however boasts one of the leagues tightest defences at the moment and could prove difficult to break down.

Liverpool and Manchester City both have matches against sides in the bottom four. The two are currently separated by goal difference in the fight for the final Champions League place. Liverpool will visit Hull City, whom will likely look to put in a similar defensive performance as they did at Old Trafford in mid-week. Man City are at home to a resurgent Swansea City, both teams looking to build on recent wins.

Sixth place Manchester United will travel to reigning champions Leicester with both teams in desperate need of maximum points. United have aspirations to finish higher than their current place, but after three straight draws they have lost ground on teams above them. The Foxes however are now in a serious relegation battle and need to get points and confidence to halt the slide.

Everton missed the chance to move closer to the top six but could only match United’s result during their Wednesday night draw away at Stoke. The blue half of Merseyside have been in good form since Christmas and will face Bournemouth on Saturday. They will want to avoid any slip ups here to keep the pressure on the teams above them.

Elsewhere there is a battle for survival at Selhurst Park when Crystal Palace will host Sunderland. Both sides had good results in the midweek fixtures but neither could move out of the bottom three. With Swansea having the more difficult game this weekend, a win for either team could give them a much needed boost.

The remaining three games is very much a mid-table affair with the sides from 8th to 13th all facing each other. Stoke travel to West Brom aiming to not lose any ground on the team four points above them in the league. Watford are hosting Burnley who have one of the worst away records in the league. Finally, Southampton are at home to West Ham, both teams looking to return to form after mid-week defeats. Surely a draw in any of these games would feature last on Match of the Day.

No team has left Stamford Bridge with so much as a point since September but if Arsenal can show some of their early season form that could all change. If they do come away empty handed they could find themselves out of the top four and face an uphill task to get back.