What does the Premier League have to follow up what were such lively midweek fixtures? More football, of course.
Matchday 23 featured quite a few surprising results, between Liverpool's 4-0 drubbing of Everton, West Ham's 0-0 draw against Chelsea in Stamford Bridge and Tottenham Hotspur's 5-1 home defeat at the hands of Manchester City.
Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Southampton meant that City leapfrogged them into first place.
Matchday 24 lacks the same volume of compelling matchups, but it has plenty of mouth-watering fixtures, with everything culminating with City's clash with Chelsea on Monday. It should be a thrilling weekend.
Premier League Predictions
|2/1||7:45 a.m. ET; 12:45 p.m. GMT||West Ham||2-1||Swansea|
|2/1||7:45 a.m. ET; 12:45 p.m. GMT||Newcastle||0-0||Sunderland|
|2/1||10 a.m. ET; 3 p.m. GMT||Stoke||0-0||Man. United|
|2/1||10 a.m. ET; 3 p.m. GMT||Hull||1-1||Tottenham|
|2/1||10 a.m. ET; 3 p.m. GMT||Fulham||2-0||Southampton|
|2/1||10 a.m. ET; 3 p.m. GMT||Everton||0-1||Aston Villa|
|2/1||10 a.m. ET; 3 p.m. GMT||Cardiff||0-2||Norwich|
|2/2||8:30 a.m. ET; 1:30 GMT||West Brom||1-2||Liverpool|
|2/2||11 a.m. ET; 6 p.m. GMT||Arsenal||4-1||Crystal Palace|
|2/3||3 p.m. ET; 8 p.m. GMT||Man. City||2-1||Chelsea|
Matchups via WhoScored.com
Newcastle vs. Sunderland
Crazy things always happen in the Tyne-Wear Derby. The fact that Sunderland have clawed their way out from the relegation places makes this match all the more exciting.
The Magpies will be without Loic Remy after he picked up a red card against Norwich City. At time of writing, it hasn't been overturned, but Newcastle may choose to appeal the suspension as it was a rather innocuous coming together with Bradley Johnson that led to the sending-off.
If Newcastle are without Remy, it's hard to see where the goals would come from. Don't forget that they'll also be without Yohan Cabaye, after he moved to Paris Saint-Germain:
Sunderland have had their own problems scoring, with Jozy Altidore failing to make any impact whatsoever since his arrival in the summer, and few others coming to the Black Cats' rescue.
This is normally a lively fixture, but the fireworks will be lacking in a match that has a dull draw written all over it.
Prediction: Newcastle 0, Sunderland 0
Everton vs. Aston Villa
For whatever reason, Aston Villa are a demonstrably better team away from home. At Villa Park, they have the 18th-worst record in the league. On the road, they're eighth.
Perhaps Paul Lambert feels a little more willing to play on the counterattack rather than try to dominate possession and control the game when his club is away from home.
Villa are a great counterattacking team, and they'll try to use that strength against Everton.
The Toffees won 2-0 when these two met earlier in the season, but with the match in Goodison Park, this could be a much more competitive fixture.
Villa demonstrated a lot of heart in their 4-3 win over West Brom. Couple that with Christian Benteke's strong run of form, and you've got a side capable of pulling off the road victory. The Belgian has scored three goals in each of his last three games after going 11 matches scoreless, per OptaJoe:
3 - Christian Benteke has now scored in three consecutive Premier League appearances after going 11 without one. Rampant.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 29, 2014
Everton looked really shaky defensively against Liverpool, and they aren't on a great run of matches. That will continue on Saturday.
Prediction: Aston Villa 1, Everton 0
Manchester City vs. Chelsea
When these two clubs met, Chelsea won, 2-1. Fernando Torres scored in the 90th to give the Blues all three points.
There are two things different this time around.
The first is that Vincent Kompany has returned to the first team and brought some defensive solidarity to the City back line.
The second is that this game is being played at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City have the best home record in the league, winning all 11 of their matches. They've scored an ungodly 42 goals at the Etihad, while holding opponents to eight.
Sergio Aguero could be a big miss for City, as he was injured in the win over Tottenham Hotspur.
Per the BBC:
"We will see how he is after he has seen the doctor on Thursday," manager Manuel Pellegrini said.
"He has injured his hamstring. Now we must wait and see how serious it is.
"We have tried not to depend on one player but we will always miss Sergio because he's a top player and we hope to have him again as soon as possible."
Stevan Jovetic made his Premier League return on Wednesday night, so he should be able to fill in should Aguero be absent against Chelsea.
Manchester City should have enough to pull through against Chelsea and pull a reverse of their earlier match.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, Chelsea 1