The 2013-14 Premier League campaign will continue with another full slate of matches this weekend, including a must-see battle between two of England's most beloved clubs.
Week 22 will commence with Sunderland hosting Southampton on Saturday afternoon and conclude with Everton visiting West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Monday night. However, the eight showdowns in between all provide significant entertainment value as well.
But no Week 22 clash will be more anticipated than Sunday's primetime matchup pitting Chelsea up against Manchester United. The two European contenders are trending in opposite directions at the moment, but each club finds itself in desperate need of a win with Arsenal and Manchester City playing lights-out as well.
With Matchday 22 kickoff fast approaching, let's highlight this weekend's marquee matches.
|Sat, Jan. 18||Sunderland vs. Southampton||7:45 a.m. ET, 12:45 p.m. GMT|
|Sat, Jan. 18||Arsenal vs. Fulham||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT|
|Sat, Jan. 18||Crystal Palace vs. Stoke City||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT|
|Sat, Jan. 18||Manchester City vs. Cardiff City||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT|
|Sat, Jan. 18||Norwich City vs. Hull City||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT|
|Sat, Jan. 18||West Ham United vs. Newcastle United||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT|
|Sat, Jan. 18||Liverpool vs. Aston Villa||12:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. GMT|
|Sun, Jan. 19||Swansea City vs. Tottenham Hotspur||8:30 a.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. GMT|
|Sun, Jan. 19||Chelsea vs. Manchester United||11 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. GMT|
|Mon, Jan. 20||West Bromwich Albion vs. Everton||3 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. ET|
Manchester City vs. Cardiff City
The last time the high-powered Citizens matched up against Cardiff City, it was the Bluebirds coming away with a stunning 3-2 victory in Wales back on Aug. 25.
Now, nearly five months later, the two teams will meet inside Etihad Stadium, where City are a perfect 10-0 in league play this season and blowing out opponents. Two-thirds of City's league-leading 59 goals have come on their home pitch. Making matters worse for visitors, the Citizens have been awfully stout defensively there as well, conceding just six times in 10 matches.
Goals in all comps this season: Chelsea-61 Utd-58 Liverpool-57 Arsenal-57 Spurs-56 City at Etihad alone-64.— Sid. (@TypicalBlueMoon) January 17, 2014
Even though this matchup projects to turn into a blowout given the revenge factor and the venue, you won't want to miss an opportunity to see Manuel Pellegrini's explosive side play in their electric building.
Quite frankly, if you love goals, this match is for you.
Arsenal vs. Fulham
While Arsenal are projected to pick up three points against Fulham on Saturday, the Gunners are no lock to prevail at Emirates Stadium this weekend.
Which top EPL contender is the biggest lock to win in Week 22?
Unlike Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, the league leaders haven't been overwhelming at home this season, scoring just 18 goals in 10 league matches there. Not to mention Fulham have been hit-or-miss in 10 league matches away from Craven Cottage this season, winning three and dropping seven.
The Gunners won the previous matchup between these two clubs in convincing fashion thanks to Lukas Podolski's brace, but will be need to be fully alert the second time around as the Cottagers have very little to lose at this point in the campaign.
Fulham are well out of the title race with 17 matches to go and are playing for pride and to avoid relegation at this point.
But with Manchester City and Chelsea right on Arsenal's heels in the league table, this match carries significant weight and meaning in the overall points chase.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Defending Premier League champions Manchester United were able to rebound with a 2-0 win over Swansea City on Matchday 21, but a loss at Stamford Bridge on Sunday will have the Red Devils singing the blues for the fourth time in five matches.
But despite United's surprising struggles, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho isn't ready to count them out, per ESPN FC's Miguel Delaney:
I've not written them off, no. I think, if you look at the table, obviously Arsenal and Manchester City are the top two teams. I repeat: Man City have different ammunition for such difficult work for everybody. But we are not far. Liverpool have a fantastic opportunity to do it. It's almost unique, the fact they're not playing in European competitions.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are just two points off the lead in the league table and can keep the pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City with a fifth consecutive Premier League victory.
The previous meeting between these two clubs resulted in a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. Both squads had their fair share of scoring chances, but defense won out as it very well may again this weekend.
After all, Chelsea and United are two of the Premier League's better defensive squads, ranking first and sixth in fewest goals conceded, respectively. In 10 league home games, the Blues have surrendered just eight total goals.
It's safe to say that while United have more to lose in this match, Chelsea have more to gain.
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