This weekend's Premier League action kicks off with a crucial clash in the chase for a top-four finish as Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield.
The Reds have stumbled in the league this season but come into the game off the back of a League Cup final win over Cardiff. Confidence gained from that triumph should play a large part on Saturday’s must-win game, with a desperate need to close the points gap that could open between them and Arsene Wenger's side should they falter.
In games similarly important game in terms of Champions League qualification, Chelsea travel to in-form West Brom, whilst outside bet Newcastle host rivals Sunderland in the Tyne-Wear derby.
Elsewhere, two under-pressure managers meet at Ewood Park as Blackburn host Aston Villa, a game which will likely heighten the worries of either Steve Kean or Alex McLeish.
Manchester City face 19th-placed Bolton having won every single one of their 13 matches at Eastlands this season, and will hope to widen the berth between themselves and rivals United, who meet Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Relegation candidates Wigan and QPR both have tough home ties against Swansea and Everton respectively whilst Wolves, under the stewardship of new appointment Terry Connor, travel to Fulham.
With the latter game coming on Sunday, Cottagers manager Martin Jol will be able to watch Stoke host Norwich, a game which should have a large impact in the ongoing battle for a top-half finish.
GREG STOBART SAYS...
That dreaded word ‘transition’ has been used all too often to describe these two clubs this season - but they gave their fans plenty to shout about last weekend.
Liverpool secured their first trophy in six years by winning the League Cup while Arsenal produced a sensational performance to beat neighbours Tottenham 5-2 after falling two goals behind. It means that they both come into Saturday's game at Anfield with a renewed sense of hope and optimism.The interesting thing now will be to see which team uses last weekend to kick on in the final 12 games of the Premier League season.
Liverpool have a strong record at home but with the international break following 120 minutes at Wembley, plus injuries to Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard, their preparation has been far from ideal.
It will be interesting to see just how ambitious Kenny Dalglish is with his starting line-up as the Reds are now in ‘must win’ territory to keep their Champions League qualification hopes alive.
It will be virtually beyond the Anfield club if Arsenal take the three points this weekend. If Robin van Persie is fit, I fancy the Gunners to score, but I still feel that they are very vulnerable defensively. I fancy an entertaining draw that will fail to satisfy either manager.
JAKE WATSON SAYS...
This weekend at Ewood Park will see a rather frosty atmosphere with Blackburn and Aston Villa supporters expressing their discontent at the way in which their teams are being managed.
Steve Kean endured unprecedented criticism at the start of the season, though his reception has certainly cooled in recent weeks with an upturn in form while the summer appointment of Alex McLeish was met with hoards of underwhelmed Aston Villa fans that has failed to warm.
McLeish is without key men in Darren Bent and Richard Dunne and his side are on a run of just one win in seven Premier League games, while Blackburn have won two of the last three at Ewood Park, giving their fans genuine belief that they can survive.
Villa are in real danger of being dragged into the relegation fight and could be as little as five points off the drop zone with a defeat this weekend and I expect that the lively Rovers side will be too much for McLeish’s negative tactics.
MARK FORDHAM SAYS...
Saturday sees second-bottom Bolton Wanderers take on top-of-the-table Manchester City at the Etihad and logic suggests that this could be a one-sided affair.
Statistics are also on the side of Robert Mancini's men as they have scored more than anyone else in the league, while Wanderers have the second-worst defensive record.
City haven't lost a game at home in over a year and Bolton come into the match off the back of three defeats. As hard as I try to find a crumb of hope for Owen Coyle's men there appears to be little on the horizon.
Fixtures at this time of year can sometimes provide surprise results as big teams chasing the title succumb to pressure, but this is unlikely.
Trotters fans are in for a long afternoon much like their Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers last weekend.
JAY JAFFA SAYS...
It must seem an age since QPR's first win of the season at Everton, but Saturday them the chance to repeat the feat that kicked the west London club's season into gear.
These are trying times for the London side, who have gone five games in all competitions without a victory – including three consecutive home defeats.
Mark Hughes' reign has lacked the honeymoon period so often seen with managerial changes but the Welshman will be praying that he can summon some fortune to arrest a worrying slide towards the drop-zone.
Everton, on the other hand, have built on a slow start to begin a gradual ascent into the top half of the table. Unbeaten in seven games, the Toffees will see this trip to Loftus Road as an ideal test of their credentials as they look to mount an unlikely late charge for a Europa League spot.
With Djibril Cisse and Samba Diakite absent through suspension, I find it hard to back a home win and therefore fancy a low-scoring draw.
SAM BISBY SAYS...
With the Potters claiming their first victory on home soil last Sunday since the 2-1 win over Tottenham nearly three months ago, Tony Pulis’ side have a new-found confidence in their hunt for a top-half finish.
Also, Stoke have successive league games at the Britannia Stadium for the first time since the end of December, a place that even Valencia were timid to showcase their continental talents.
However, Norwich have lost just twice in their six previous Premier League outings and are currently in a position that is very much sought-after by Saturday's opponents.
Stoke's performance last weekend against Swansea was encouraging, whilst the Canaries put up a decent fight against reigning champions Manchester United, however the hosts’ momentum is far greater and should put up the bigger fight to take the spoils.
RYAN BENSON SAYS...
Chelsea’s turbulent season continues to rumble on, with reports and rumours of squad unrest constantly resurfacing, but, following the 3-0 win over Bolton, their rough spell may finally be behind them.
On Saturday, Andre Villas-Boas’ team travel to the Hawthorns to face West Brom, a team against whom they have an impeccable record following 18 wins and two draws from their last 20 meetings, while they have also won all 11 Premier League fixtures with the Baggies.
So far this season, West Brom have struggled at home, scoring just 13 goals and winning only three times, while Chelsea will be looking to build on the Bolton win if they are to catch Tottenham in third.
It will be intriguing to see whether the hosts can raise their game for the visit of Chelsea, while it will also be interesting to discover if Frank Lampard can claim his 150th Premier League goal, a first for a midfielder.
ALEX FISHER SAYS...
Two of the better footballing sides in the bottom half of the Premier League meet this weekend as the Latics take on the Swans.
Roberto Martinez has had a big influence on both clubs as a player and a manager but he will not be showing his old side any sympathy as Wigan look to drag themselves towards safety.
Unfortunately for Martinez, his side are struggling at home and have only won once there this season - and that was back in August.
Swansea have not had too much success on their travels, they only have two wins from 13 in the top flight, but their football has impressed everyone and they have to be confident against the league's bottom club.
This should be a good game with some excellent football and I can see both sides cancelling each other out and the game ending in a scoring draw.
ROB STEWART SAYS...
The wounds of the 5-1 defeat on Tyneside last season are still raw for most Sunderland fans so this is a chance for Martin O'Neill to give them redemption.
They were expecting their side to beat Newcastle that fateful day but, in the end, it proved to be the beginning of the end for former boss Steve Bruce, so few will be bullish about their chances of success this time around.
However, under O'Neill the Black Cats are a well-organised bunch so they will make life awkward for Newcastle, and in Stephane Sessegnon they have a player capable of beating the Toon defence.
But the trouble is for Sunderland is that Newcastle are no slouches when it comes to attacking thanks to Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, who will almost certainly get the better of a weak defence in what should be a high-scoring contest.
JOE DOYLE SAYS...
Fulham will be riding high on confidence following their dominant display over west London rivals QPR, but Wolves will be able to take some positives from their opponent's result last week, in that they could only score once against a team who played for an hour with 10 men.
The visitors will also have their own shot of confidence following their comeback from two goals down to earn a draw at Newcastle, in Terry Connor's first game in charge. The newly-appointed boss will be hoping that the midweek internationals will have disrupted Fulham's rhythm, with 16 players representing their countries this week.
That said, if Fulham can get their key trio of Clint Dempsey, Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz on the pitch and involved in the game, they should be able to get past the Wolves midfield and secure three points.
WAYNE VEYSEY SAYS...
I am looking forward to watching how Tottenham react to their humiliation in the north London derby last weekend.
Should Harry Redknapp's team suffer a second consective defeat to destabilise their top-four aspirations, the old accusations of 'soft' Spurs will ring far and wide.
The problem, as Goal.com revealed on Thursday, is that Spurs are likely to have to make do without their counter attacker-in-chief Gareth Bale, who has the pace and ball-carrying ability to slice open Manchester United's defence.Nevertheless, the current Spurs team is a far more resilient one than the sides of yesteryear, a quality they will need against title chasers Manchester United.