1) Allardyce bids to halt Liverpool juggernaut
Nothing – at least not anything we're prepared to discuss here – would give Sam Allardyce more pleasure than “out-tactic-ing” Brendan Rodgers, who has deservedly been hailed as a prime candidate for the manager of the season award. His attempt to prick Rodgers's balloon is unlikely to be a masterclass in sophisticated strategising but it could be effective. West Ham will surely not play the sort of high defensive line that Liverpool's lightning forwards have exploited all season and they will certainly and repeatedly launch the ball into Liverpool's box with the precision of a zoo-keeper chucking raw meat into the lion enclosure, leaving the magnificently-maned Andy Carroll to savage the brittle visiting defence. So it is not hard to envisage West Ham scoring. But Liverpool's ingenuity and movement should ultimately trump their hosts' muscle. PD
2) Will Stoke riff on Mourinho's pain?
If this match was at the Britannia Stadium you'd genuinely fancy Stoke City to win it. Following two consecutive defeats (three in a row away from home), Chelsea are in something of a mess. Their fans may argue otherwise, but as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell from No Country For Old Men might say, their current pickle will certainly do till the mess gets here. Whether it's all pantomime villainy or not, it's difficult to say, but their increasingly unlikeable and hypocritical manager José Mourinho – who has now extended his sideline repertoire to include ranting at ball-boys – has been talking out of both sides of his mouth, publicly humiliating certain players in one interview, while simultaneously scoffing at the notion he would ever dream of doing so in another. Elsewhere, Mark Hughes quietly continues his surprisingly good work at Stoke City, who have won four and drawn one of their last five matches and as good as secured a mid-table finish. Playing well, under no pressure and with their opposition reeling from rare consecutive humiliations, there would be a certain poignancy if it was this much-maligned team who put an end to Mourinho's remarkable 76-match unbeaten Premier League run at Stamford Bridge. Betting on them to do so at odds of around 14-1 could be the shrewdest bet of all this Grand National Saturday. BG
3) A massive day for Everton and Arsenal
Having gone from genuine title contenders to something of a panic-stricken rabble frantically clinging on to fourth place in what seemed like a heartbeat, Arsenal travel to Everton on Sunday for a match where defeat would leave their chances of securing fourth place in serious jeopardy. Victory for Everton, who have won five Premier League matches on the spin, would arguably leave them in the box seat for fourth place, ahead of a team renowned for its propensity to fold like deckchairs under pressure. For all that, it's worth noting that Everton's impressive run of victories was punctuated by an emphatic FA Cup quarter-final defeat. The victors on that occasion? Sunday's opponents Arsenal. BG
4) What for Newcastle fans to do?
Back before “Newcastle United” was entered into the dictionary as the correct collective term for a load of players who have stopped giving a single crud about results, Alan Pardew's side registered an historic 1-0 victory at Old Trafford, marking the high-point of their season and one of the lows of Manchester United's. If the shower in stripes were to win again here, then that would surely represent a nadir for David Moyes. All of which raises the question: what should Newcastle fans do about it? The best form of protest is, of course, to withhold their custom but since they have already paid for their season tickets they would be punishing themselves if they did not turn up on Saturday. So should they turn up and boo? Jeer? Organise a fly-past? Resort to the most wounding action that can be inflicted upon any modern player and go so far as to, yes, UNFOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER? These are desperate times at St James's Park. PD
5) Will West Brom internally combust?
Saido Berahino has ruled out the possibility of taking legal action against his team-mate James Morrison over an alleged dressing room assault in the wake of the late, late equaliser West Brom gifted to Cardiff City last weekend, although his reasons for doing so remain unclear. Burundi-born Berahino, who is 20, is believed to be upset that Morrison, a senior professional, is not being disciplined internally for his part in the incident and his anger might well be justified. Peter Odemwingie, who left West Brom under a cloud and has since rediscovered his mojo at Stoke City, has hinted that events like this are not isolated at the Hawthorns, admittedly a state of affairs that would not be uncommon at any sporting institution. For West Brom, however, it is the latest unseemly episode in a season of turmoil endured by the club since the departure of their technical director, Dan Ashworth, to the FA. With the drop to avoid and a big match away to Norwich City ahoy, it will be interesting to see what, if any, effect these most recent events have on morale. BG
6) Silva v Lallana at the Etihad
Until hipness reached these pages we thought trequartista was what children said after knocking on doors at Halloween, but it turns out that the term refers to a football role whose finest exponents in the Premier League this season have been David Silva and Adam Lallana. The outcome of this tryst at the Etihad, which has obvious ramifications for the title, will likely depend on which of those players is allowed to trick and treat the most. PD
7) Will Fulham launch their great escape bid?
Under the terms of his loan agreement, Darren Bent is unavailable to face his parent club and may not have done so anyway considering he was benched last weekend in favour of 17-year-old striker Moussa Dembele, who made his full debut for Fulham in defeat at the hands of Everton. Rock bottom of the Premier League and five points adrift of safety, it's probably no exaggeration to suggest that Fulham are so terrible that their best hopes of survival rest in the fairly consistent awfulness of the five teams above them, but the Cottagers will probably need a minimum of four wins from their remaining six games to overhaul three of them. The fixture generator has at least been generous: Aston Villa (a), Norwich (h), Tottenham (a), Hull (h), Stoke (a) and Crystal Palace (h) is about as kind a run-in as they could have hoped for, containing a mixture of mid-table teams with nothing to play for and fellow relegation strugglers with everything to play for. Securing three points at Villa Park, which is anything but a fortress, would be a great place to start. A win for Fulham would inspire genuine hope, which Craven Cottage regulars are probably aware isn't always preferable to despair. BG
8) Sunderland's bid to avoid being cast adrift
In years to come this Premier League season could be remembered as one where decadence and whimsy prevailed over reason, with the result that several clubs stood as monumental follies. Tottenham Hotspur, for instance, are the footballing equivalent of the Dunmore Pineapple, while Sunderland are not even that ornate, just big cabbages. Both Gus Poyet and Tim Sherwood are still searching for consistency and it is not clear whether their players have bought in to their methods or tuned out. Spurs have a curious tendency to start matches slowly so if Sunderland can rouse themselves enough they could establish an early advantage, especially if Adam Johnson starts and exposes Spurs' most obvious sign of imbalance – their weakness at full-back. Fail to win here and Sunderland run the risk of being cast adrift at the bottom of the table, as their next matches are against Everton, Manchester and Chelsea. PD
9) A survival special for Cardiff and Palace
It would be fitting if the former Bullseye MC, Jim Bowen, led the teams out for this one and then turned to Vincent Tan, pointed at Tony Pulis and said: “... and here's what you could have won.” Cardiff, like everyone else in the league bar Fulham, have better players than Crystal Palace but Palace, thanks mainly to Pulis, have a better team. They may have scored just 20 goals in 31 Premier League games this season but the sheer discipline and dynamism of Palace makes them a pain to play against. Will that be enough to secure survival? This match will go a long way towards determining the answer to that: if they can eke out another 1-0 win against a Cardiff team who have found a way to score under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, hitting 10 in their last four matches, then Palace will be a healthy eight points clear of the Welsh side. A Cardiff win, meanwhile, would leave Palace still in deep trouble, meaning the Fulham v Palace clash on the last day of the season could be a a mouthwateringly messy do-or-die London derby. PD
10) A weekend where every match matters
As the performance of almost all of Newcastle players suggested, last weekend's match between their side and Southampton was arguably the most pointless fixture in the history of the top flight, with both teams completely safe from the horrors of either relegation or qualification for the Europa League. This weekend, the outcome of every game matters to at least one of the teams involved. The players of Hull (14th) and Swansea City (13th) might roll their eyes at such an assertion, but neither team is safe and victory for the former would enable them to focus exclusively on winning their first ever FA Cup, while a win for the latter would enable them to head for the metaphorical beach that much earlier. Good incentives to do well all round. BG