Midweek football makes a much-anticipated return to the Premier League for Week 26 of the campaign, with recent changes to the table putting more than a slight spin on matters of late.
Arsenal's 5-1 capitulation at the hands of Liverpool over the weekend will have come as a surprise to all, while Manchester City's 0-0 stalemate at Carrow Road has left Chelsea to open up a one-point lead at the summit of the table.
Here's how the table looks after Week 25:
|15||West Ham United||25||6||7||12||-7||25|
|18||West Bromwich Albion||25||4||11||10||-8||23|
It's but another crazy turn in what we continue to refer to as the most open Premier League season to date, with shock results and a mere five points separating first and fourth certainly backing up those thoughts.
Despite his side's superior position, Jose Mourinho is quoted by The Irish Times as saying that Manuel Pellegrini's City side are still the team to beat this term.
Per the Mail Online, the Blues will, however, be without John Terry for their trip to West Brom this week:
BREAKING: Jose Mourinho confirms John Terry will be out for Chelsea's match away to WBA #cfc— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) February 10, 2014
In truth, when the lines are drawn so tightly, it matters not who the favourite is, but the mind games being batted about by our managers serve as an entertaining sideshow all the same.
Manchester United continue to toil outside the Champions League spots as a result of their 2-2 draw at home to Fulham, with a trip to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening not posing better prospects.
The fixture is an intriguing one given that both teams suffered upsets in their last outings, but an Arsenal team with home advantage has to be favoured against the Red Devils, irrespective of which Spaniard they may have brought in a fortnight ago.
Here's a statistical breakdown of the frustrating encounter for the Old Trafford hosts, per Squawka:
Seventh-place United continue to dangle around the European spots, but with a nine-point gap now separating them from fourth-place Liverpool, it's nigh impossible to see past Europa League football being in the 2014-15 frame, if that.
Six point above the Red Devils, Tottenham face an important trip to Newcastle United on Wednesday evening, the Magpies still searching for their first win since Yohan Cabaye left the club in late January.
Elsewhere, two teams with completely different goals will meet at Upton Park when West Ham entertain a Norwich City side just one place below them in 16th—though the clubs are level on 25 points apiece.
The official Premier League Twitter account show exactly how the Canaries defence may be improving:
Considering only seven points separate 10th and last place at this stage, the relegation battle is even more expansive than the top of the table, with a vast assortment of teams in the candidacy to go down at present.
And speaking of relegation, Cardiff City, currently in 19th position, play hosts to Aston Villa on Tuesday, hoping to claw back some of the six-point stretch that currently distances them from each other.
Both teams are hoping to bounce back after losing 3-0 and 2-0 to Swansea and West Ham over the weekend, respectively, and both are in dire need of some motivation for the end-of-season run-in.