Week 11 set the cat among the pigeons at the top of the Premier League, with results falling the way of Manchester United and Liverpool in particular as the title challengers begin to bunch together.
That congestion is only set to increase during the next course of matches, with top-of-the-table clashes between Manchester City and Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool and Arsenal and Southampton potentially complicating matters further.
The international break comes first, but which teams can expect to boost their positions in the table when the Premier League returns?
|Premier League Table after Week 11|
|10||West Bromwich Albion||11||3||5||3||14|
|16||West Ham United||11||2||4||5||10|
|Week 12 Fixtures|
|Everton vs. Liverpool||Saturday||12:45||BT Sport||2-2|
|Fulham vs. Swansea||Saturday||15:00||1-3|
|Hull vs. Crystal Palace||Saturday||15:00||2-0|
|Arsenal vs. Southampton||Saturday||15:00||1-0|
|Newcastle vs. Norwich||Saturday||15:00||2-0|
|Stoke vs. Sunderland||Saturday||15:00||1-2|
|West Ham vs. Chelsea||Saturday||17:30||Sky Sports||0-3|
|Man City vs. Tottenham||Sunday||13:30||Sky Sports||2-2|
|Cardiff vs. Man Utd||Sunday||16:00||Sky Sports||1-3|
|West Brom vs. Aston Villa||Monday||20:00||Sky Sports||2-1|
Manchester United: Rise
It has been a great last couple of weeks for David Moyes and his side, who have risen up to fifth place in the Premier League, just five points off leaders Arsenal.
The "crisis" of earlier in the season is no longer the focus of media headlines, and a fixture against Cardiff City in their next outing represents a fine opportunity to continue the good form of recent weeks.
United will expect to beat Malky Mackay's side, irrespective of which starting lineup they choose to send out. Cardiff have secured a couple of big results this season, beating both Manchester City and Swansea at home, but to beat United as well would be another major surprise.
With many title rivals playing other top sides, a United win would see them rise into the top four and help further ease pressure on manager Moyes as he settles into the job.
Southampton travel to Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal after a stunning start to the season that has brought just one defeat in 11 matches.
The Saints may not lose to Arsenal, but they will face a massive task if they are to secure victory away to one of the Premier League's in-form sides—irrespective of defeat to Manchester United.
Mauricio Pochettino's men have been terrific at keeping possession this season, retaining an average of 57 percent of the ball, per WhoScored. They don't, though, retain the ball at the expense of all else, with directness in attack a major part of their game plan.
Against Arsenal, though, they will find themselves deprived of the ball and thus will have to make use of their limited attacking opportunities. It will not be easy and a draw would be a fine result.
Jose Mourinho's Blues side head to West Ham next weekend and have a great opportunity to move up the league table, given Liverpool and Southampton's tough tests.
They will dominate play against an average West Ham side and have enough in the way of physicality to deal with the Hammers' aerial approach that causes many opponents such difficulty.
Chelsea have been inconsistent this campaign but have special talents in their attacking unit—Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata among them—that make them automatic favourites in nearly every match they play.
Mourinho will not continue to accept under-performance and, in the Hammers, could ask for few better opponents against whom to send a message that Chelsea are back on track.
Aston Villa: Fall
Aston Villa secured a much-needed win against Cardiff at the weekend but face a difficult local derby with a West Brom side that have improved massively from their poor start to the season.
Steve Clarke's men have shored up their defence and lost just one of their past six league games, despite playing four of the top six in that period. At home, they would have to be favourites.
Given that Hull will begin as favourites in a home clash against a Crystal Palace side showing few signs of rising from the bottom of the table and that Swansea will travel to an out-of-sorts Fulham, it may be that a Villa defeat would see them drop two places in the standings.
Victory over Cardiff came off the back of four winless games for the Villans, and they have struggled to score goals against teams in which they cannot counter attack—with six of 11 goals this season coming against Arsenal and Manchester City.
Clarke's side, then, can be justifiably confident of a good result that would cost Villa ground in midtable.
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