From the Manchester derby on Saturday afternoon all the way through to the west London equivalent at Craven Cottage on Monday evening, Goal.com UK will be there, and this is what our reporters are eagerly anticipating...
Wayne Veysey says....
With its steepling stands, perfect geometry and romantic history, Old Trafford is a football palace that has few peers on the planet. Love or hate the club, no sports ground odyssey is complete without a visit to Manchester United on match day.
Yet, even the most devout United worshipper would admit the ‘theatre of dreams’ can go into a slumber during the bread-and-butter matches. For the marquee fixtures, however, it is a spectacular place to be, and Saturday’s mouth-watering derby against ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City should see the 101-year-old stadium at its regal best.
Players and supporters make grounds special and those running on the grass or sat and stood on the 76,100 red and white seats will be doing their best to impress on derby day. I can't wait to see the tackles snap, hear the fans crackle and wait for Fergie to go pop on the touchline.
Oliver Yew says...
It will be interesting to see how both Arsenal and Wolves react to rather contrasting results last weekend. The Gunners will be looking to bounce back after their second-half capitulation against Newcastle and everyone will be looming to see if the scars still remain.
On the other hand Mick McCarthy's side will head to north London high in confidence after ending Manchester United's unbeaten run. In the process they added Sir Alex Ferguson's team to a list if impressive scalps this season, which includes Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool.
The match pits Wenger's artistic philosophy of football against McCarthy's robust style, add the recent bad blood between the two sides and this could be a fiery encounter. But expect the Gunners to just shade it as they look to keep pressure up at the top of the league.
Ben Bradley says...
The one thing that stands out to me in this contest is the battle between Obafemi Martins and Ryan Shawcross.
Martins is set to make his debut for the home side, after receiving international clearance during the week, and will be facing one of England's brightest prospects in Shawcross.
Martins is an experienced striker who has played in the Premier League for Newcastle United before and will be eager to impress. I can see Martins getting the better of Shawcross and he could even mark his debut with a goal.
Matt Monaghan says...
After being less than impressed again by England's midfield in their friendly victory in Copenhagen in midweek, Saturday provides a good chance to see what shape Joey Barton is in.
The Scouser has earned rave reviews this term and was at his composed and
combative best against Arsenal last week. Blackburn have looked weak in
the middle at times this term and he should have the freedom of Ewood Park to
show what is being missed by Fabio Capello. Scrape away the scandals and it's impossible to argue on football alone why he's not in the England squad.
| Aston Villa
Andrew Kennedy says...
Hopefully this should be an exciting game of football at Bloomfield Road with a Blackpool side who continue to score and leak goals for fun. The Seasiders could possibly field a three-pronged attack, and it will be interesting to see how Villa’s inexperienced full-backs Kyle Walker and Ciaran Clark cope as they come under increasing scrutiny.
Blackpool’s attacking mentality will no doubt leave spaces at the back for England trio Darren Bent, Ashley Young and Stewart Downing to exploit and it will be fascinating to see how Ian Holloway’s men fare against an Aston Villa side with plenty of width and pace.
Jon Birchall says...
Following their 1-0 defeat of Chelsea, the hosts will go in to Saturday's clash brimming with a confidence that has so often been found wanting at Anfield this season. Kenny Dalglish's transformation of this Liverpool side has made fixtures like this an almost certain three points for the Reds, as opposed to the potential banana skins that they appeared to be only a month ago.
However, Wigan are proving a much more solid outfit than many have given them credit for and certainly have the ability to test the resolve of their illustrious hosts. That said, it would be foolish to look past Liverpool for this game and I expect Lucas to be pivotal once again for the Reds, breaking up the Latics' counter-attacks and continuing his excellent form from recent weeks.
| West Brom
| West Ham
Ian Murphy says...
Whilst it is undoubtedly a relegation six-pointer on the pitch, perhaps the most intriguing thing about Saturday’s game at the Hawthorns is to be found in the dug-outs. Last Sunday West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace decided to sack head coach Roberto Di Matteo – Saturday’s game will see caretaker boss Michael Appleton take the reins for what will be his first ever game as a manager, and also his last for the time being, with Roy Hodgson set to take over after this match.
Appleton has spent over a decade at the Hawthorns as a player then a coach and is well qualified for the job after working hard to gain every coaching badge available. The former Manchester United player is renowned for his passion so it will be interesting to watch him on the touchline next to the, shall we say, reserved Avram Grant. It is perhaps ironic that West Ham face the manager-less Baggies this Saturday with Grant still in charge – after the Israeli has endured a season of speculation about his position.
Owen Watson says...
Spurs travel to the Stadium of Light this weekend looking for payback after Sunderland held them to a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane earlier in the season. Of their competitors in the hunt for Champions League places, only Chelsea have managed to escape the Stadium of Light with three points – it’ll be interesting to see how Tottenham cope against Sunderland without Luka Modric while star men Rafael van der Vart and Gareth Bale may also struggle to make the starting line-up.
But what I’m really looking forward to is a response from Sunderland. Battered, bruised and somewhat aggrieved after their 3-2 loss to Stoke City last weekend, Steve Bruce will be hoping his side respond in the same manner they did when they last lost two league games on the bounce – when they thrashed Blackburn 3-0 at the Stadium of Light. Spurs may prove a sterner test but I’m backing Sunderland to see it through with Sessegnon grabbing the winner.
Alex Fisher says...
After the goal-fest in last weekend's Premier League I'm looking forward to a good open game. Both sides have got strikers in form and I’m hoping that they keep it going. I’ve been impressed by the impact Daniel Sturridge has had at Bolton with two goals in two games and Everton will be wary of him as he looks like a man trying to prove a point to his parent club Chelsea.
As for the Toffees, I’m intrigued to see if Louis Saha can maintain his recent form. The striker must have been on cloud nine all week after scoring four times in their 5-3 win over Blackpool, the question is can he produce that consistently? I'd love to see another game strewn with goals but I think a realistic prediction is a 1-1 draw.
Alex Stamp says...
The Valentine's Day London derby promises to be an intriguing affair. The headlines will inevitably be all about Fernando Torres, especially after the defeat against Liverpool, and how he plays with Drogba and Anelka could have a big impact not only on Monday's game but for the rest of the season.
Personally I am intrigued to see how Fulham get on. They're on a good run of form and this is the sort of game which can turn a middling season into a decent one. With strikers Andy Johnson and Moussa Dembele coming back and the spine of Roy Hodgson's successful team from last year in place, Mark Hughes can certainly start looking up rather than down, starting from Monday. I think they have the tools to shock a Chelsea side which is not quite operating at its very best and once Craven Cottage gets going the atmosphere is always electric.