Sunday's Capital One Cup final clash between Sunderland and Manchester City may glean some of the English spotlight this weekend, but the Premier League is back with more action in Week 28.
And although only eight fixtures are on the card, the English top flight promises to be shaken up by the matches at hand, with Chelsea and Liverpool just two of those giants in danger of dropping off the pace.
Read on for a more detailed breakdown of this weekend's more tightly drawn encounters, matchups boasting the potential of having a dramatic effect on how the Premier League table shapes up.
|10||West Ham United||27||8||7||12||-3||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||27||4||13||10||-8||25|
Fulham vs. Chelsea
In 12 Premier League trips to Craven Cottage, Chelsea have dropped points on six of those occasions (five draws, one loss) but have the opportunity to turn that statistic in their favour on Saturday.
It will not be a difficult task, though, as OptaJoe show us that Fulham have allowed more shots on their goal than any other side in the English top flight this term:
173 - Fulham have allowed the opposition more shots on target against them than any other team in the Premier League. Porous. #Opta92— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 27, 2014
Considering Fulham currently sit at the bottom of the division and the Blues rest with a one-point cushion at its summit, there couldn't be a more open expanse between the two local rivals, bringing the irony of the 15-minute walk between their grounds into comical context.
However, as we know all too well, the English top flight is most renowned for its open platform and the notion that anyone can beat anyone on their day.
Felix Magath may be new to such notions following his appointment as Cottagers boss, but what better way to claim your first Premier League win than by beating the current league leaders, which would be enough to bring Fulham off the foot of the standings.
Hull City vs. Newcastle United
Hull City have been something of a surprise package in terms of their valid claims for a mid-table finish, largely built upon their results at the KC Stadium.
Newcastle United are different in that their results are almost equally split between home and away fixtures this season, with 19 of their 40 points thus far having come in foreign territory.
Both teams have an identical run of form as they make their way into this Yorkshire encounter, each winning two, drawing one and losing three of their last six Premier League outings.
As things stand, the Tigers sit three places lower than their eighth-placed Magpie opponents, but a home win would reduce the gap separating the duo to just seven points, tightening up the mid-table contest in time for the end-of-season run-in.
Southampton vs. Liverpool
Liverpool have lost just one league game at home this season, and it's thanks to a Dejan Lovren-led Southampton that the Reds aren't spotless when it comes to Anfield matters this term, having lost to the Saints back in September.
Mauricio Pochettino's side will hope to make it two-for-two when they welcome the Merseysiders to St. Mary's on Saturday, but the south-coast outfit encounter a Reds team enjoying an eight-match unbeaten league run.
It speaks volumes of just how strong this Liverpool side have been, considering Roy Hodgson's recently announced England squad boasts more Liverpool players than any other club, as per Squawka:
England squad by club: Liverpool (5), Man Utd (5), Southampton (4), Chelsea (3), Arsenal (2), Man City (2), Everton (2), Spurs (2).— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 27, 2014
A massive gap of 17 points separates the two, and so their prospects for this season are far apart, Brendan Rodgers' team aiming for a top-four finish while Southampton are simply seeking as high a top-half result as possible at this stage.
However, Pochettino's men have already shown the knack to beat Liverpool, meaning there will be more focus on the visiting side to maintain recent form, rather than Southampton feeling any home side pressure as such.