Chelsea and Liverpool will hit the Stamford Bridge pitch on Sunday, Dec. 29 for a top-four battle that is sure to be the highlight of the Matchday 19 action.
That matchup may take top billing, but it certainly isn't the only one worthy of our attention. There are several top-half matches this week, and with table-leaders Arsenal travelling to take on sixth-place Newcastle United, we very well could see a change at the top of the Premier League.
Of course, that is nothing new. After an entertaining Boxing Day saw Liverpool fall to Manchester City, Arsenal retook the top spot in the table.
The Gunners will enter Matchday 19 with just a one-point lead in the table. Here are the fixtures that will determine what the table look likes next week.
|Saturday, Dec. 29|
|7:45 a.m./12:45 p.m.||West Ham United||West Bromwich Albion|
|10 a.m./3 p.m.||Aston Villa||Swansea City|
|10 a.m./3 p.m.||Hull City||Fulham|
|10 a.m./3 p.m.||Manchester City||Crystal Palace|
|10 a.m./3 p.m.||Norwich City||Manchester United|
|12:30 p.m./5:30 p.m.||Cardiff City||Sunderland|
|Sunday, Dec. 29|
|8.30 a.m./1.30 p.m.||Everton||Southampton|
|8.30 a.m./1.30 p.m.||Newcastle United||Arsenal|
|11 a.m./4 p.m.||Chelsea||Liverpool|
|11 a.m./4 p.m.||Tottenham Hotspur||Stoke City|
Everton vs. Southampton
These two early surprises will take to Goodison Park on Sunday, Dec. 29, as they look to continue their strong starts.
Everton will be hoping to get quickly back on track. The Toffees suffered a shock 1-0 loss in Week 18 to bottom-feeding Sunderland. Of course, that was largely due to goalkeeper Tim Howard getting a red card in the first half.
Everton trail at home to Sunderland, due to Tim Howard’s first-ever Premier League red card. pic.twitter.com/ALtHeQExtX— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) December 26, 2013
Meanwhile, Southampton flexed their defensive muscle with a 3-0 thrashing of Cardiff City.
All of this finds Everton in fifth and Southampton in ninth.
Both of these sides will be looking for their defense to lead the way in this match, and goals are going to be hard to come by. Everton leads the Premier League with just 17 goals allowed and Southampton are tied in second with several teams at 18 goals conceded.
All of this sets up for what will be a will be a hard-fought and well-played contest.
Newcastle United vs. Arsenal
After their home draw with Chelsea allowed Liverpool to steal top spot in the table, the Gunners bounced back with a solid 3-1 away win over West Ham.
With Liverpool falling to Manchester City, the Gunners are back in first place.
Meanwhile, Newcastle will enter this contest on a nice roll. They've beaten their last two opponents, Stoke City and Crystal Palace, by the combined score of 8-1.
Of course, Newcastle will face a step up in competition this week.
Newcastle will enjoy the spoils of the pitch at St. James' Park, and they will need it. Although, it may not make a difference playing against Arsenal.
The Gunners are 6-1-2 on the road in the league this season. That is almost as good as their home record of 6-2-1. With 20 away goals, the Gunners' attack has been even more effective on the road.
This could be problematic for Newcastle. With 14 goals allowed at home, Newcastle's defense has been less effective at St. James' Park than it has on the road.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Liverpool are going to enter this match with a chip on their shoulder. They were impressive falling just 1-2 at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester City on Boxing Day, although the Reds were upset to leave with zero points.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was not pleased with the officiating in this match:
Brendan Rodgers: "I never go on about officials but today I thought they were horrendous. Nothing went our way at all."— LiverpoolFC News (@LFCTransferNRS) December 26, 2013
Meanwhile, Chelsea will enter this contest after a 1-0 win over Swansea. Despite the triumph, manager Jose Mourinho was not completely satisfied with the contest:
Jose Mourinho: "We couldn't kill the game again but we got 3 important points & now we wait for the result of Man City-Liverpool" #CHESWA— Premier League (@premierleague) December 26, 2013
They kill me. Every game I'm tired in the end, admits Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho http://t.co/1g5Mv4luSe— Chelsea News (@NewsChelsea) December 26, 2013
Chelsea have now scored just two combined goals in their last three league matches.
The Blues will be hosting this game, and they have been outstanding at Stamford Bridge. They are 8-1-0 at home and have netted 20 goals in their comfy confines.
Liverpool have not been nearly as potent on the road. The Premier League's second-highest scoring team have gone 3-3-3 on the road in league play this year and have scored 18 goals.
Expect a top-flight effort from Liverpool in this one, as they not only try to erase the memory from their defeat against Manchester City, but also further prove they are legitimate contenders for the EPL title.