The battle for the Premier League title may be compelling, with three heavyweights in contention, but the fight to avoid relegation from English football’s top-flight is nearly as fierce.
At the top, leader Manchester United travels to Norwich on Saturday with a two-point advantage over champion Manchester City, at home to Aston Villa.
European champion Chelsea, a point further back in third, travels to surprise package West Brom, an impressive fifth in the table, in a match that pits Blues boss Roberto di Matteo and the Baggies’ Steve Clarke, once an assistant manager at Stamford Bridge, against their former clubs.
Lure of silverware
In an era where Premier League players are routinely criticised for being primarily concerned with their pay packets, United veteran Rio Ferdinand said the lure of silverware remained as strong as ever.
There will be plenty of attention at Eastlands on City and England goalkeeper Joe Hart, beaten on four occasions by striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic during Sweden's 4-0 friendly international win in midweek, with the striker’s stunning scissor-kick fourth set to become a staple of all great goal compilations.
But there will be a different sort of grim fascination in watching bottom of the table QPR welcome second-bottom Southampton to Loftus Road as both clubs battle to remain in the lucrative top flight.
West London club QPR has yet to win in 11 Premier League matches this season while Southampton has just one victory to show for its efforts since ending seven years of Premier League exile.
QPR's Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes, the man behind budget airline Air Asia, has been steadfast in his support of manager Mark Hughes.
Meanwhile, Southampton boss Nigel Adkins has been similarly well supported by his board.
But the temptation for one side or other to change manager in a bid to fashion a rally against relegation should they suffer defeat in Saturday's ‘six-pointer’ could prove irresistible.
However, Adkins was convinced both he and Hughes would still be in their respective posts after the weekend.
North London derby
The North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham sees both clubs battling to get back into the four while Everton will look to maintain its place among the leading quartet at home to struggler Reading.
Liverpool will look to Luis Suarez to continue the form that has already yielded 11 goals this season, eight in 11 Premier League matches.
Reds manager Brendan Rodgers has denied reports the Uruguay striker is on his way out of Anfield in a big-money move to City. — AFP