Robert Mancini's side could trip up in the title race opening the door for rivals United, whilst Kenny Dalglish's men are tipped to win at Sunderland and in the derby
The weekend starts at the Reebok Stadium where 19th-placed Bolton take on QPR, who remain three places and just two points ahead of them in the standings. Both sides are woefully out of form but will view the game as a huge chance to regain momentum.
At the other end of the table, Manchester City travel to Swansea City and Manchester United host West Brom with both sides smarting after Europa League defeats in midweek and looking to get back on course for the title run-in.
The Swans have a magnificent home record and Roberto Mancini's side will travel to the Liberty Stadium without skipper Vincent Kompany, after the Belgian picked up an injury in Lisbon.
The Red Devils were totally outplayed by Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night at Old Trafford and will be itching to set the record straight in front of their own fans, Sir Alex Ferguson will be boosted by the form of Wayne Rooney and David de Gea after the pair were solely responsible for keeping United in the tie with the Basque side, the second leg of which comes immediately after this round of league fixtures.
Tottenham are just about clinging onto the coat-tails of the Mancunian table-toppers and they travel to Everton with injury problems of their own after Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon limped out of Spurs' midweek FA Cup win over Stevenage. Everton are finding their customary form in the second half of the season and may finally put paid to the north Londoners' title ambitions.
Arsenal are now breathing down their neighbours' necks but face a tough test on Monday night as Newcastle arrive at the Emirates Stadium on the back of their blood-and-thunder Tyne-Wear derby last weekend. The Magpies won the corresponding fixture last season and may fancy their chances again but Arsenal are in form and will have gained confidence from their 3-0 win over AC Milan on Tuesday despite the result failing to keep them in the Champions League.
Elsewhere Aston Villa host in-form Fulham, with Villans boss Alex McLeish under huge pressure, and basement club Wigan travel to Carrow Road to take on Paul Lambert's impressive Norwich City.
A huge clash at the bottom of the table sees Wolves host Blackburn Rovers. The Lancastrians' form has picked up of late and Wolves are still reeling form the departure of Mick McCarthy, as evidenced by the 5-0 hammering received at Fulham last weekend.
Jordan Henderson returns to Sunderland with Liverpool on Saturday before his side turn their attention to a Merseyside derby against Everton on Tuesday. The reverse fixture at Goodison Park was shrouded by Jack Rodwell's harsh sending-off and, given the fixture's recent history of red cards, it seems unliekly that the match will finish with the full complement of players.
RYAN BENSON SAYS...
QPR arguably came up to the Premier League with an aura of arrogance, expecting to stay in the division with ease following some impressive signings, but they now know that they have a big battle on their hands.
Mark Hughes has hardly enjoyed the honeymoon period that many managers often seem to have when starting a new job and his side are fully immersed in the battle against relegation after winning just one of their last 15 league matches.
Bolton haven’t been much better in that same period, winning only three times, but, despite being two points behind the Rs, they can count their 4-0 win at Loftus Road earlier in the season as a lucky omen.
With neither side exactly hitting form at the moment, confidence will be low in the respective camps, but the cliche says you must pick up points against the teams around you, and with that, hopefully both sides will set out to pick up the three points.
SAM BISBY SAYS...
Fulham go into their clash against the Villans buoyed by their 5-0 thrashing of relegation-battlers Wolves last Sunday and have a new hero amongst their ranks in Pavel Pogrebnyak.
The Russian striker marked just his third appearance for the Cottagers last weekend with a supreme performance and a hat-trick. The victory helped Fulham creep up behind seventh-placed Liverpool and they now sit just three points behind the Reds.
Villa meanwhile are having a tough time of it recently, with last weekend's outing ending in a disappointing 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers. With just one win in seven, the pressure has piled upon manager Alex McLeish recently and the fans’ relationship with the Scotsman is tepid at best.
A lack of confidence at Villa Park isn’t likely to lift this weekend and Fulham’s momentum of three wins on the trot will be sure to bowl over the hosts.
JOSH CLARKE SAYS...
So, Stamford Bridge life post-AVB begins and, for me, the intrigue will be whether Roberto Di Matteo continues the forward-thinking masochism favoured by his predecessor, or reverts back to tried and tested Chelsea ways.
Not too many clues can be harvested from the 2-0 FA Cup win at Birmingham but it’s more than likely that, given the short-term nature of Di Matteo’s tenure, tinkering will be abandoned for the conviction afforded by selection of the remnants of Jose Mourinho’s all-conquering side. The imposing nature of Stoke’s game plan calls for no less.
After recording four Premier League losses on the bounce, Stoke seem to have recaptured some form of late yet are without a win at Chelsea in nearly 40 years. This time round I can’t help but feel the Potters will be at the mercy of a frankly unpredictable Blues’ response.
ROB STEWART SAYS...
Jordan Henderson’s homecoming should be a happy one because Liverpool could hardly have asked for a better time to face Sunderland so they should invigorate their quest for a top-four spot.
Henderson and his colleagues will be up against a team weakened by the indiscipline of two of their best players in Stephane Sessegnon and Lee Cattermole during last weekend’s ill-tempered Tyne-Wear derby.
Sunderland will be there for the taking but will be a tough nut to crack because manager Martin O’Neill has turned the Black Cats into a well-drilled unit which relies on counter-punching.
As well as Henderson, there are intriguing sub-plots as Stewart Downing once wore Sunderland colours during a loan spell on Wearside and, in Newcastle old boys Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll, there will be pantomime villains to spice things up.
Sunderland will be able to cope with Carroll’s threat but the trickery and mobility of Luis Suarez should prove too much for centre-backs Michael Turner and John O’Shea to handle.
JAKE WATSON SAYS...
The terms ‘six-pointer’ and ‘must-win’ have never been more relevant then when Blackburn travel to Molineux this weekend to face Terry Connor’s Wolves.
The home side have conceded 12 in just three games in what has been far from the impact the Wolves board would have been hoping for when they installed Connor as the club's new boss. Captain Roger Johnson has been in the headlines for turning up to training drunk which has been far from the ideal preparation for this critical clash.
Blackburn have been picking up points as of late as Steve Kean begins to win over the Ewood faithful but with games running out simply neither side can afford to lose this one.
Wolves pulled off a shock by winning the reverse fixture at Ewood in August though as things stand it is Blackburn who are high on confidence and I think they will have their revenge this weekend.
DAVID LYNCH SAYS...
Just a matter of weeks ago, Tottenham were flying high. Proponents of the most attractive football in the Premier League, on the verge of a serious title challenge and with a manager whose work had attracted the interest of the FA, it seemed like little could go wrong. However, consecutive league defeats against rivals Arsenal and Manchester United have brought the north London side back to earth with a bang.
JONATHAN BIRCHALL SAYS...
With nine points and 10 goals secured in their last three games, West Brom will travel to Old Trafford confident of picking up their first win at the Theatre of Dreams since 1978.
The hosts and their fans, however, will no doubt enter the game still reeling from a humiliating 3-2 defeat to the stunning Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening, and it will be fascinating to see if any signs of a Europa League hangover remain for the Premier League champions.
Conversely, Roy Hodgson’s side are buoyant, with last week’s win over Chelsea moving the Baggies into the top half. With 11 games of the season to go the Midlanders are closer to Europe than the relegation zone, but with United’s title charge still on, it’s difficult to foresee anything other than a victory for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.
MATT SCOTT SAYS...
The season has well and truly reached its business end and the billionaire title-chasing Citizens sit at the top of the Premier League with a two-point advantage over neightbours Manchester United.
Roberto Mancini's side were beaten at Sporting Lisbon in midweek and also lost Vincent Kompany to injury with the Belgian having proven a rock at the heart of defence this season and likely replacement Stefan Savic not impressing when he last had to deputise.
Their task is not made any easier travelling to the Liberty Stadium, where the Swans have been magnificent all season.
Brendan Rodgers has only shared a glass of wine with his opposite number having beaten him twice all season and the Welshmen will be looking to take advantage of a wounded City and take another scalp after impressive performances against Chelsea and Arsenal at home this season.
GEORGE ANKERS SAYS...
With most of their closest rivals set for difficult Premier League tests in the coming round of matches, this is an opportunity for Norwich to arrest a three-game losing streak and push back into the top half of the table. Only four points behind Liverpool, they are one of several sides dreaming of an unlikely Europa League campaign - this sort of match, at home to the struggling bottom club, is a test that they will need to pass if such thoughts are to be entertained going forward.
The Canaries' last home game saw David de Gea starring in goal for Manchester United and Wigan will need Ali Al-Habsi to deliver a similar performance up against the powerful Norwich front line. The Omani goalkeeper is arguably the only reason why Roberto Martinez's side are not completely adrift of safety already.
The Latics have scored 12 and conceded 28 on the road this season and I expect Paul Lambert's men to continue those difficulties. Whatever combination of forwards he unleashes should cause the Wigan defence problems all game, so my money's on the misery deepening for the visitors.
WAYNE VEYSEY SAYS...
I am looking forward to seeing if Arsenal can replicate the manic urgency and tempo of the first hour against Milan.
GREG STOBART SAYS...
I was at the first Merseyside derby this season and although the atmosphere was excellent, these games are always more intense under the lights.
Anfield will be rocking on Tuesday night and I'm looking forward to seeing whether Liverpool play with the same tempo they showed in last weekend's game against Arsenal.
The problem for both of these sides this season has been a lack of goals and I can see this being another closely fought encounter.
Liverpool, as the home side, will be slight favourites, but Everton have been in decent form and will be well organised. They also have a point to prove after the Merseyside derby in October, which Liverpool won following Jack Rodwell's unfortunate dismissal in the first half.
I fancy the Reds to have too much for their neighbours in attack and to take three points that should all but confirm that they will finish as the highest-placed team in the city this season.