Four of the Premier League’s biggest clubs will go in search of victory in upcoming midweek matches as the race for the title enters the home straight. Tuesday sees third-placed Manchester City, six points behind leaders Chelsea but with three games in hand, up against a resurgent Manchester United in an eagerly-anticipated derby at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile Arsenal will try to recover from a 6-0 defeat by Chelsea last weekend — a humiliating way to mark Arsene Wenger’s 1,00th match in charge of the Gunners — at home to Swansea.
And Wednesday could witness second-placed Liverpool move to within a point of Chelsea, having played the same number of games, if Brendan Rodgers’ in-form side defeat relegation-threatened Sunderland at Anfield.
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Last week, United kept those doubting the wisdom of appointing David Moyes as their manager in succession to Alex Ferguson at bay by advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals and seeing off West Ham, courtesy of a WayneRooney double that included a long-range wonder goal. However, they are still 11 points behind fourth-placed Arsenal and now, without injured striker Robin van Persie, face a City side who thrashed bottom-of-the-table Fulham 5-0 last weekend.
City triumphed in the first of this season’s Manchester league derbies with a 4-1 win at Eastlands in September. United have won just once against teams in the top nine so far this season, a fact not lost on former Everton manager Moyes. “In the end you get three points for winning any game but there is an added importance of winning the big games,” the Scot said.
Arsenal will fancy their chances against a Swansea side only four points above the relegation zone following a 3-2 loss to Everton. One consolation for the Gunners is that Kieran Gibbs, sent off in a bizarre case of mistaken identity during the Chelsea game, should be available once the formalities of an appeal have been completed.