Arsène Wenger chasing sweet revenge over José Mourinho, plus Andy Carroll, Michu and Stephen Ireland back in action
Should Arsène Wenger still be smarting from the barbed "specialist in failure" comments that José Mourinho directed at him earlier in the season, then there would be no better revenge than a victory at Stamford Bridge in his 1,000th game in charge. Even better for Wenger, a win would put Arsenal back in with a shot at the title, while very possibly scuppering Chelsea's chances at the same time: a top-of-the-table six pointer, if you will. Wenger will need to address his side's attitude, though. Despite beating Tottenham last Sunday, Arsenal were probably the inferior team while against Bayern Munich in the Champions League they appeared almost resigned to a defeat on aggregate. Olivier Giroud, perhaps as a result of problems off the pitch, has appeared distracted. Meanwhile, Arsenal's league form against clubs in the top half of the table has not been good in 2014: they have won just twice in five matches against teams in the top 10.
It's interesting to see how Chelsea's season has changed since the dour 0-0 draw at the Emirates just before Christmas. Then, Mourinho was insisting that his club had to go back to defensive basics before they could add attacking flair. The club duly delivered a snarling, solid display that made few hearts flutter but did get Chelsea back on track. The arrival of Nemanja Matic in January has made that defensive platform even more solid and the flair has been allowed to return. But it will be interesting to see which tactic Mourinho leans on most heavily seeing that Chelsea are coming into this game on the back of the bad-tempered 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa. TB
David Moyes has been ridiculed this season for advocating a relatively one-tracked approach consisting of cross, cross, cross. But against Liverpool last week Manchester United failed to even muster that sort of threat and that was unforgivable bearing in mind that it is the surest way to worry a still-fragile Liverpool defence. Cardiff are unlikely to be as negligent. In Jordon Mutch, Peter Whittingham and Craig Noone they have some excellent deliverers at their disposal so may, just may, have a chance of stalling the Liverpool bandwagon. PD
That Roberto Martínez is a nice man seems reasonably clear and he's certainly not the sort to gloat about a former club who are struggling for form. It's why he's warned his Everton team that Swansea City are "a better side than the results are showing in the league". Still, when the Welsh side travel to Goodison Park, they are in for a trying afternoon. They have not won away in the league in nearly four months, while Everton have not lost at home since Boxing Day. There is some hope for Swansea, mind. Michu made his first appearance since before Christmas in last week's defeat by West Brom and, though he was rusty, his presence must give the club cause for optimism. Certainly a side that boast a strikeforce that includes the Spaniard and Wilfried Bony appear, on paper, to be the strongest of any in the bottom seven. Further good news for Swansea came in the FAW Youth Cup, in which a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over Cardiff was in part secured by a stunning 45-yard lob from the 18-year-old midfielder Josh Sheehan. Woof! TB
If only because he is unlikely to get himself banned and alienated for making an obscure offensive gesture, Shane Long is better than at least one of the strikers that West Bromwich Albion wanted more than him in January. And you could make a decent case to say he is better than any of the strikers still on the Baggies' payroll: indeed, he will attempt to put forward that very case when these sides meet in a match that will leave the losers feeling low and, if it's West Brom, a little silly. PD
Felix Magath plastered the dressing room with photos of Fulham fans in a bid to inspire his team last week and it worked, as they recorded their first win under the German. This week he may cover the dressing room in photos of Vincent Kompany in an effort to reinforce the notion that Manchester City are ramshackle without their captain. Never mind that it's a slightly unfair notion: yes, Martín Demichelis has often look ill-suited to the role of central-defensive lynchpin but Kompany has not always helped. Last week's red card at Hull was far from the Belgian's first mistake in a season in which he has been memorably barged off the ball by Olivier Giroud and even Fabio Borini before goals and, of course, in which he scored an outlandish own goal at Craven Cottage in December. In fact, on average City have conceded fewer Premier League goals this season in matches Kompany has missed (0.77) than in the ones he has played (1.11). None of which is to claim that City are better off with Demichelis and without Kompany, merely that the captain's absence this weekend is not enough to give Fulham a chance of winning. PD
Crystal Palace will travel to Newcastle without Marouane Chamakh or Dwight Gayle, leaving Tony Pulis with the just-fit Glenn Murray (one goal in five appearances this season) and Cameron Jerome (one goal in 22). It means that the visitors seem unlikely to improve upon a woeful record versus Newcastle in which they have failed to score against them in their past six meetings in all competitions, a run which stretches back to 1999. Newcastle will hope to record successive home victories in the league for the first time since November. However, scoring consistently remains a problem for them too. Though they have netted seven times in 10 games in the Premier League this year, four came in Alan Pardew's Hull head-butt game and three came against West Ham. In the other eight games, they have scored none. Hatem Ben Arfa is set to return but, given they are still without Loïc Rémy, it could be another afternoon of unemployment for the scoreboard operator. TB
It is impossible to overstate the importance of this match between Norwich and Sunderland. If it ends in a draw, farms will cease production, cities will sink, all of human civilisation will be pushed to the brink of extinction and … OK, it is possible to overstate the importance of this match. But it's still very important, in the narrow scheme of things. It'll go a long way towards determining whether one, both or neither of these sides survives in the Premier League and also, perhaps, whether Chris Hughton remains in his job, at least until the end of the season. Sunderland are in the third relegation spot but have three matches in hand on several teams above them, the most vulnerable of which is Norwich. Gus Poyet's team will not have many better opportunities to turn their arrears into points than this, just as Norwich will have few better chances to safeguard their status given their hideous run of fixtures in the last month. Carrow Road regulars have been starved of entertainment this season but this weekend they are sure to get drama. PD
Last season Manchester United twice travelled to Upton Park and on both occasions were lucky to leave with a 2-2 draw. Both times they needed Robin van Persie to save them. The first meeting came last January in the FA Cup, when Sir Alex Ferguson was forced to throw on the striker in the 68th minute with United 2-1 down. He was repaid with a world-class equaliser 22 seconds into injury time. The second meeting came in the league in April, with United cruising towards the title. Again, it was Van Persie who scored the equaliser, his 25th goal of the season – though Sam Allardyce argued persuasively that he was offside. After seeming to shake off the strangely subdued attitude that has marked his last few appearances for Manchester United, Van Persie appeared to suggest he has not entirely given up on his career at the club with a Champions League hat-trick. How David Moyes will curse the injury the Dutchman picked up in that game which appears likely to rule him out at West Ham.
United face a side who are unbeaten in the league at home since mid-January, but whose past two matches – both away – have ended in defeat. They will have been boosted by Andy Carroll's first goal of the season in the 3-1 loss at Stoke and will hope that he makes life as difficult for Manchester United on Saturday as he did last April, when he battered the goalkeeper David de Gea. TB
• Rooney: United must go on the attack to save season
• Van Persie leaves United sweating over injury
• Jamie Jackson: why has Moyes so often shunned Giggs?
• Video: Allardyce on United's disappointing season
Mauricio Pochettino is one of several managers to have been linked with a summer move to White Hart Lane and it's not hard to see why: his endorsement of last summer's record-breaking signing of Dani Osvaldo showed him as the sort of shrewd operator who would fit right in at Tottenham. OK, that mishap aside, the appeal of the Argentinian is obvious: building on the decent work of his predecessor, he has cultivated a slick side that play with dynamism, creativity and efficiency. Chances are he could fairly chuck a gilet too, if called upon. So this match may be portrayed as a sort of audition for Pochettino. Except that billing would suggest that managing Tottenham is a more desirable position than managing Southampton. Is it? Katharina Liebherr is best placed to answer that: if the Southampton owner intends pursuing the same strategy as in recent years, spending decent amounts to supplement – rather than sell – the fruit of the club's fertile academy, then a good manager could achieve more there in the long term than at Spurs, whose make-it-up-as-as-they-go-along approach carries all the false promise of an Aaron Lennon run. PD
It took Mark Hughes a while but he has quietly transformed 11th-placed Stoke City into the more footballing side he promised when he took over. Targeting a first-ever top-10 finish, they have not lost in seven and comprehensively beat West Ham 3-1 last weekend with a gameplan that owed its style to the contribution of the oft-troubled Stephen Ireland. Hughes clearly rates the on-loan midfielder and wants him at the club next season – however he will have to do without him against Aston Villa, his parent club, who sit in the 10th position Stoke covet. Villa, statistically, have had a far more stable season in 2013-14 than in the previous two years yet, as the nine-point gap between them and ninth-placed Newcastle suggests, they remain more of a bottom-half side than a top-half one. Victory over a resurgent Stoke City would go some way to changing that perception and building upon the impressive victory over Chelsea last Saturday. TB