Week 23 of the Premier League isn't likely to add any clarity to the top three in the table, but there are some interesting matchups.
With FA Cup and Capital One Cup action filling the early-week calendar, Matchday 23 won't get underway until Jan. 28. That all comes after Matchday 22 saw the top of the table remain tight with convincing wins from the top teams.
Manchester City will travel to White Hart Line for a match against Tottenham Hotspur on Jan. 28. This is the biggest test of any of the top three clubs and it gives the Citizens a chance to prove they are going to bring the kind of consistent excellence they show at home on the road.
The most compelling match of the week goes down at Anfield with Everton will try to take down Liverpool in the latest Merseyside derby. I'll take a closer look at that match and a couple of others below.
Check out the table at the completion of Week 22, then I'll take a look into the future with my predictions for Week 23:
|Crystal Palace vs. Hull City||Jan 28||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||1-0|
|Liverpool vs. Everton||Jan 28||8 p.m. GMT/3 p.m. ET||1-2|
|Manchester United vs. Cardiff City||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||3-1|
|Norwich City vs. Newcastle United||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||0-3|
|Southampton vs. Arsenal||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||0-2|
|Swansea City vs. Fulham||Jan 28||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||2-1|
|Aston Villa vs. West Brom||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||1-1|
|Chelsea vs. West Ham||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||5-0|
|Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester City||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||1-3|
|Sunderland vs. Stoke City||Jan 29||7.45 p.m. GMT/2.45 p.m. ET||1-0|
Liverpool vs. Everton
These are good times for the Merseyside derby. Both Liverpool and Everton have been playing wonderful football this year.
Brendan Rodgers has Liverpool, thanks to the prolific efforts of Luis Suarez, in fourth place in the table as the second-highest scoring team in the league.
Meanwhile, Roberto Martinez has taken right to the Everton job and has his club overachieving in sixth place. Making this matchup particularly compelling is that, at 19 goals allowed, Everton are tied as the stingiest club in the league.
That will pit strength vs. strength in this battle.
Liverpool have not been as impressive of late as they were just a month ago. Slumping play from the defenders is part of the reason why.
Although Rodgers doesn't seem to think the slump is built to last:
In this one, it will be defense that prevails. Everton have done a wonderful job of bottling up attacks and with Gareth Barry shrinking the space in front of Phil Jagielka, Luis Suarez isn't going to find a lot of room to work.
Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Everton
Tottenham vs. Manchester City
Manchester City have spent this campaign as the menacing bullies who just don't quite have the consistency to steal the top spot.
Still, there is no team that has as much potential to run away with the table as the Citizens. They just need to produce better efforts on the road.
City have improved their road results, but a 1-1 draw with Blackburn on the road on Jan. 4 in FA Cup action proved this team has not matured completely past those struggles.
Meanwhile, Tottenham will also have a chance to make a statement. Spurs have been playing strong football and are cruising along at fifth in the table.
Still, Tottenham have just a plus-3 mark in goal differential and if Manchester City display top form, the Hotspur will wilt in the face of that attack.
Tottenham have allowed just three goals in their last five league matches and the defense won't make it easy for City to get on track, but the Citizens' determined effort will wear Tottenham down.
I look for the Citizens to lay out a strong effort and put the pressure on Tottenham all match.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-3 Manchester City
Southampton vs. Arsenal
Arsenal's consistency is astounding. Although their results against other top teams do not inspire ultimate confidence in their title chances, the fact that they win the matches they are supposed to raises that confidence level.
Southampton have had a wonderful start to the Premier League, but this is still a match that Arsenal are supposed to win.
Southampton's defense started off the league year in amazing form. That defense is still strong and full of potential, but it has slowed down.
Saints have allowed more than a single goal in five of their last seven matches across all competitions. Arsenal will make that six out of the last eight.
Mesut Ozil has slumped a bit from his amazing start with Arsenal, but he and his mates are still playing excellent football. The Gunners have scored two goals in each of their last four matches across all competitions.
Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Arsenal