Four teams are separated by four points in the Premier League title race. For the moment, it seems unlikely that any one of those teams could drop out of Champions League contention, but if they falter, Tottenham, Manchester United and Everton will be knocking on their door.
And nine teams are within seven points of one another at the bottom of the table, as the relegation battle promises to be as close as the title race. Things are going to go down to the wire, folks.
While Matchday 28 doesn't have any must-watch matches, pretty much every game at this point has implications. Let's break down this week's slate of action.
Note: The Sunderland versus West Brom and Manchester United versus Manchester City matches have been rescheduled due to Sunday's Capital One Cup final between Sunderland and City.
Schedule and Predictions
|Saturday at 10 a.m. ET||Everton||2-0||West Ham|
|Saturday at 10 a.m. ET||Fulham||0-2||Chelsea|
|Saturday at 10 a.m. ET||Hull City||1-1||Newcastle|
|Saturday at 10 a.m. ET||Stoke City||1-2||Arsenal|
|Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET||Southampton||2-2||Liverpool|
|Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET||Aston Villa||1-1||Norwich City|
|Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET||Swansea City||2-1||Crystal Palace|
|Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET||Tottenham||2-0||Cardiff City|
With the United versus City match being rescheduled, there really aren't any marquee matchups this weekend. The most intriguing, however, is Southampton taking on Liverpool.
The Saints had been rolling through much of January and February, at one point rattling off an eight-game unbeaten streak. But that ended on February 15, as the team lost to Sunderland in the FA Cup, and continued last weekend as they lost to West Ham, 3-1.
Contrast that to Liverpool, which haven't lost in 2014 and have steadily gained ground on the Premier League leaders. Led by Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool have now scored 70 goals on the season, tops in the league.
But where Liverpool play like Norse gods protecting Asgard at home, they are mere mortals on the road. Southampton are a tough, tough team and need to get back on track, so don't be surprised if they earn the draw.
That will hurt Liverpool's title chances, as both Arsenal and Chelsea should beat Stoke City and Fulham, respectively. Of course, Chelsea will be trying to overcome the fact that they "lack a scorer." Those are Jose Mourinho's words, not mine, as Mourinho was filmed saying, "The problem with Chelsea is we lack a scorer. I have one (Eto'o) but he's 32. Maybe 35, who knows?"
He claimed it was a private conversation and he was only making a joke with a journalist off the record. Unfortunately, not even the Special One can make damage control sound like the truth. Will that prove a distraction for Chelsea heading into this match?
Probably not. The truth is, what Mourinho said is hard to deny, and Chelsea have been overcoming the lack of a potent striker all season.
Both Everton and Tottenham should gain ground in the race for the top four if Liverpool draws, with winnable home matches. Of course, after Spurs lost to Norwich City, 1-0, their fans are in a state of crisis.
From Dan Fitch of ESPN:
It's not premature to declare this season a complete write-off. It was always going to be extremely difficult to break into the top four for the simple reason that the teams ahead of Spurs are much better than them. Now it looks impossible.
Liverpool are essentially seven points ahead of Tottenham when you consider a goal-difference deficit that you would expect to find between two sides at the opposite ends of the table. It would take an implosion on Liverpool's behalf and for Spurs to be very consistent, neither of which seems likely to happen.
Under Andre Villas-Boas, the results and performances were bad enough to justify his sacking. Yet it is folly to dismiss a manager if there is no one available to take over. Daniel Levy should know this because he has made the exact same mistake before, having sacked Glenn Hoddle only to have to install David Pleat as a caretaker until the end of the season.
Yes, it's a long shot that Spurs will get into the top four. Heck, it was probably a long shot that Spurs would recover from losing Gareth Bale and gel with so many new players in one season. Always the bridesmaids, never the brides at White Hart Lane, at least for one more season.