BPL This Weekend: North London Derby With Top Four Implications, Liverpool battle Man United At Old Trafford, More

IMAGE, ARSENAL.COM

The North London Derby is one of the best derbies in all of soccer and another one will be showcase this weekend.  Tottenham are still hoping to get a Top Four finish, while a win for Arsenal will aid their Top Four spot and knock fifth place Spurs further from the reckoning.

Arsenal was 1-0 winners when the two sides met back in September, but much has changed since then. Arsenal’s form was on the rise in the first Premier League meeting, while in recent weeks has gone the other way. Tottenham was coached by Andre Villas-Boas and were still bedding in new players to the league.

Ex-Arsenal man Emmanuel Adebayor, who always plays a big part against his former club, may very well again. However, for Tottenham, far too many times Adebayor has had a negative impact against Arsenal. He will look to continue his strong run of play after Tim Sherwood’s appointment as manager.

Another polarizing figure, Mesut Ozil, who has either played pretty well this season or has been a waste of his large transfer fee, will miss the game through injury. He will be resting his hamstring after staining it in the Champions League.

Both teams played European fixtures this week and although there may be some tired legs, this match shouldn’t lack any intensity. A big three points for either team should provide a boost for the remainder of the season. That scenario would only further each teams Top Four chances.

What Else To Look For

1.  Red Rivalry– Manchester United and Liverpool have won 38 league titles between them. The Red Devils only recently surpassed Liverpool’s record of 18, when United won the title in 2010.

On the pitch, the rivalry has waned a bit with United’s dominance and Liverpool’s struggles. However, Liverpool has surpassed United in style of play and table position so far this season. With that said, it should be another entertaining match between these two clubs.

If David Moyes wants to achieve a better standing in the minds of the Red Devils faithful, beating Liverpool is a fantastic start. The attacking core of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj is finally starting to gel. United scored three past West Brom last weekend. Even with a massive Champions League fixture looming, Moyes can ill afford to rest any top choice players. With Liverpool’s current goal scoring form, United will need all hands, well feet, on deck.

Liverpool are blessed with the hottest strikers in the Premier League, with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez knocking goals in for fun this season. With the pace of those two and Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho in the mix, an ageing United back line could be in trouble. Steven Gerrard will also look to play balls through or over the top of the United defense. Even though the game is at Old Trafford, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Moyes went a bit defense to shield the back four.

2. Double Cup Exit Hangovers– Manchester City and Sunderland are in opposite ends of the Premier League table, but both experienced several feelings over the last two weeks. Sunderland lost to Man City in the final of the Capital One Cup and then was dumped out of the FA Cup by Hull City. Man City on the other hand, fell to a shock defeat in the FA Cup to Wigan Athletic and more recently lost to Barcelona in the Champions League.

Both clubs can ill afford to go through a rough patch in the league. Sunderland are fighting for their Premier League survival, while City still has a shot at the title. Sunderland can greatly affect their chances with a win over Crystal Palace. Taking three points from Palace would put the two league strugglers even on points.

Man City has a trip to the KC Stadium to take on Hull. After the Tigers big win over Sunderland to advance to the semifinal of the FA Cup, they may enter this game with high confidence. Even after a tough result in Spain, City should have the quality to get their title chances on track.

3. Blue(s) Eyes Fully Focused?– Chelsea has a Champions League fixture looming after this weekend’s Premier League fixture. With a slim advantage, having the away goal, over Galatasaray, will Jose Mourinho look to rest a few of his regulars?

Had the upcoming fixture been against a Top Four or Six club, there might not be any hesitation from Mourinho about his starting XI. However, with an away fixture to Villa, Mourinho may feel he can rest a few players.

Although players won’t admit it, eyes will be more focused on a Champions League affair with Gala, then against a middling Aston Villa. However, the players will have to remember to take it one game at a time. A win this weekend, continues to make life difficult for those chasing the Blues in the Premier League. A slip up gives begins to open the door for the others.

4. Relegation Fodder- Including Sunderland and Crystal Palace, five clubs are separated by just six points at the bottom of the Premier League table. A further three clubs are only adrift of the relegation zone by three more points.

With nine games remaining and some clubs being able to take points directly off of clubs surrounding them in the table (Sunderland v Crystal Palace, Swansea v West Brom), this could be a weekend where the relegation picture could become just a little bit clearer.

5. Adieu, Pardew (For 7 Matches Anyway)Alan Pardew won’t be on the bench for Newcastle any time soon. For his head-butt, the Magpies’ manager will miss seven matches

Pardew’s side sits comfortably mid-table, but have had an up and down run of form of late. Possibly too far out of reach of a European spot for next year and a fair share of points adrift of the relegation zone, Pardew’s absence from the touch-line in the run-in may not affect the club a whole lot.  Newcastle face Fulham this weekend at Crave Cottage.