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Arsenal can complete a quick double over managerless Cardiff City and consolidate their position at the top of the table when the relentless Premier League holiday schedule continues on New Years Day. While players and fans in other countries have a rest from soccer over the holidays,Wednesdays matches will be the fourth in little over 10 days in England.
With the campaign at the halfway mark after 19 matches,Arsenal,with 42 points,lead the table at the start of the new year for the first time since the 2007-08 season. They are followed by Manchester City (41),Chelsea (40) and Everton (37). The race is so close that Liverpool,who were top at Christmas,are now fifth on 36 points after two defeats in four days at Manchester City and Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgerss side,who are at home to Hull City,are only two points clear of both champions Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur,who meet at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
The situation is even tighter at the other end with only seven points separating 11th-placed Swansea City (21) and table-propping Sunderland,who gained a point at Cardiff on Saturday in a 2-2 draw.
Serena sweats it out,wins season-opener
brisbane: World number one Serena Williams looked rusty in her first competitive match of the season ahead of the Australian Open but battled through to beat Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4 at the Brisbane International on Tuesday. The number one seed won in 98 minutes to reach the quarter-finals but her 36 unforced errors and 55 percent serving accuracy showed how much Williams has to work on with the first grand slam of 2014 less than a fortnight away.
German Petkovic was exactly what the defending champion needed at this point in the season. She ensured the five-times Australian Open winner had to fight for every point across both sets.
It was an intense match,which was really good for me, Williams said. (reuters)