BPL This Weekend: Wenger’s 1000th Game In Charge, City Have Advantage In Title Race, More

IMAGE, ARSENAL.COM

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

When Arsenal and Chelsea kickoff this weekend, it will be manager Arsene Wenger‘s 1,000th game in charge. With such a massive milestone for Wenger and Arsenal, it is also a massive match.

Wenger has never beaten Jose Mourinho and will look to finally change that. A win would move the Gunners closer to the top of the league, closing the gap to one point, with games in hand.

Chelsea had to play in the Champions League so Arsenal may have a slight advantage with fresher legs. However, playing at Stamford Bridge should level the playing field for the Blues.

The most important area of the pitch may very well be in the midfield. Arsenal will be without Mesut Ozil and will look for Tomas Rosicky to have a similar impact as he did last week.

Earlier in the season, Mourinho called Wenger a “specialist in failure.’ For Wenger and the Gunners, it would be a massive statement to take three points away from home against Chelsea, but it could also be the catalyst needed for a late push to the title.

What Else To Look For

1. City In The Driver’s Seat– With three games in hand, Manchester City have the advantage in the title race. Playing Fulham this weekend is a great opportunity to chip away at Chelsea’s lead at the top, especially with the Blues playing Arsenal.

With only the league left to challenge for, Manuel Pellegrini can turn out his strongest squad week in and week out. Even though the Cottagers are up next, there isn’t much reason to rest players. One who will be absent is Vincent Kompany, who picked up a red card last weekend. It could very well be a Martin Demichelis, Joleon Lescott partnership.

That could bring some fortune to Fulham. Demichelis has been a liability throughout the season and as the Cottagers sit on the bottom of the Premier League, any small advantage in their favor is huge.

Manager Felix Magath got his first win in charge last weekend and will hope that his side can build on that. Traveling to the Etihad Stadium hasn’t been an easy trip for any team this season, where City almost always fills up the score sheet. Fulham may want to try to take a page out of Wigan’s book, who were able to get a big win in the FA Cup at the Etihad.

2. When You Think Of Liverpool, You Think Of Goals– Liverpool have been scoring goals — and lots of them — against every opponent recently. After putting three past Manchester United at Old Trafford, the Reds confidence is sky high and they are looking like legitimate title contenders. Cardiff City is up next on the fixture list.

The Reds have the two highest scorers in the league in Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez. Even when they don’t find the back of the net, their presence creates so many things for their teammates.

Cardiff continues to linger in the relegation zone and although a win could potentially see them push out of the bottom three, they will have a tough task. The attack last weekend looked very timid throughout, even though they were able to turn in a goal off of a free-kick.

If Liverpool continue their scoring run, it will be tough for Cardiff to match them. The home side may just have to hope their defense and goalkeeper David Marshall can keep it close.

3. Needing A Win- Norwich and Sunderland are both in the bottom half of the league, with the Black Cats currently in the relegation zone.

Sunderland have games in hand and can begin their ascension to Premier League survival with a victory. Three points could see them move adrift of the drop zone if other results go their way. More importantly, a win drags the Canaries closer to the relegation dog-fight, helping their cause.

Norwich’s form hasn’t been strong over the last few games by any means. Some solace is the match is at Carrow Road, where form has been better. The Canaries haven’t won away from home in five matches.

This could very well be a game where one goal secures all three points. It would be a great time for Ricky van Wolfswinkel or Jozy Altidore , both who have both struggled for goals for their respective clubs, to bag an important one this weekend.

4. Struggling Spurs– Losers of three of their last four league matches, Spurs are not in great form. They were also just knocked out of the Europa League by Benfica.

With the most recent results, a Top Four challenge has just about evaporated, sitting seven points behind Man City, who have games in hand. Facing a tricky Southampton could make matters worse.

Manager Tim Sherwood is beginning to feel the heat of a Premier League coaching job and needs to turn things around and quickly. If results don’t begin to fall Tottenham’s way, they will continue to fall down the table with Everton and Manchester United closest to surpassing Spurs in the table.