Wenger's Arsenal party could end in tears at Chelsea

Mar 21, 2014
Jonathan Harwood

Premier League preview: Liverpool and Man City will pop corks for Wenger if he downs Mourinho

ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger will be centre of attention this weekend as he marks his 1,000th game in charge of the Gunners. If he celebrates with a win, or even a draw against fellow title chasers Chelsea, he will be not just the toast of Islington, but also the red part of Liverpool and the blue half of Manchester, as it would seriously undermine the Blues' hopes of winning the Premier League.
On a weekend when the other two teams in the title race, Liverpool and Man City, will expect to claim victories over relegation candidates, another slip-up by the league leaders, who lost last week against Aston Villa, would put the cat among the pigeons.
Further down the table, Spurs will be looking to hold on to fifth place, but they are under serious pressure from Everton and Man United could force their way back into the European scrap with victory over West Ham.
Here's the best of the weekend action:
Chelsea v Arsenal

There is a danger that sentimentality will cloud people's judgement of what will happen at Stamford Bridge on Saturday lunchtime. Yes, it is Arsene Wenger's 1,000th game in charge of Arsenal and the club will be desperate to mark it with some kind of success. However, ten of his previous 999 games have been against teams managed by Jose Mourinho and so far none have ended in victory for the Frenchman. What's more, Arsenal have failed to beat Chelsea, Man City or Man United in any of their last 11 attempts, and who could forget that Chelsea have never lost a home game in the Premier League under Mourinho? If injury-ravaged Arsenal do win on Saturday it will be remembered for more reasons than Wenger's milestone. However, a better bet would be a pound or two on Wenger to be banished to the stands. The odds on that are a generous 100-1, and a combination of Mourinho's goading, another injury to a key player and the end of the Gunners' title hopes could push the Nutty Professor over the edge.
Man City v Fulham

Manuel Pellegrini's side showed resilience last weekend as they played for 80 minutes with ten men and still beat Hull. That performance may have restored some belief after a wobbly couple of weeks that saw them knocked out of the FA Cup and Champions League. Vincent Kompany will be missing for City against bottom club Fulham on Saturday, but he is unlikely to be missed. If City have rediscovered their mojo this could be a long afternoon for Fulham. That said, City often save their worst performances for games like this, at least that's what Felix Magath will be hoping. However, if the Cottagers emerge from this with anything other than a bloody nose it will be a stunning result - and it still won't keep them up.
Cardiff v Liverpool

The only consolation for Cardiff as they prepare to face the Premier League's form side will be that relegation rivals Fulham have got an even tougher task this weekend. The Bluebirds may be at home, but that will be scant consolation when you consider that last weekend Liverpool went to a rather more daunting arena, Old Trafford, and demolished Manchester United. The Reds' front three of Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez will be licking their lips at this one. Cardiff keeper David Marshall has been one of the outstanding players of the season, and he will doubtless get the chance to add a few more saves to his portfolio this weekend. He may also have to pick the ball out of the net a few times.
West Ham v Man Utd

Did the win over Olympiakos really signify a turnaround in David Moyes's fortunes? We will find out on Saturday evening, when his United side head to Upton Park to face West Ham. This is always a spicy fixture and the Hammers, who are not yet safe from relegation, will want to get something out of it. It will be interesting to see how United approach this clash, which falls between two massive games. Mission impossible against Olympiakos was a success, but will the players and fans be more focused on the challenge of Man City next Tuesday than this game? If so it could play into the Hammers hands. West Ham's recent success shows that sticking with a manager can pay off. Big Sam looked destined for the sack in January after a string of dire performances, but he turned things around... now Moyes must follow suit.
Spurs v Southampton

This Sunday lunchtime encounter could be crucial in the race for Europe. Spurs are currently fifth, but will have relinquished that position by the time this match kicks off, if Everton beat Swansea on Saturday. A Man United win would also put them within striking distance of the Lilywhites, so this is a must-win match for Tim Sherwood. The Spurs boss has seemed slightly off the wall in recent weeks, but has got his players working hard on the pitch, and they performed admirably against Benfica on Thursday night, when they came close to an amazing comeback. Southampton have blown slightly hot and cold in recent weeks, but they will believe a win gives them a chance of gatecrashing the European party.
This weekend's other fixtures:
Everton v Swansea
Hull v West Brom
Newcastle v Crystal Palace
Norwich v Sunderland
Aston Villa v Stoke

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