As long as the relentless snowfall across England does not wipe out the weekend's football schedule, the Premier League should see another exciting round of fixtures in the coming days. In spite of what was something of an anticlimax last week, expectations of drama will still be high this 'Super Sunday', and here we take a look at what might just happen in those big games at the top of the table.
Chelsea vs Arsenal - Match Preview
The frustration shown by the fans and the subsequent pressure on interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez seems to have permeated through to the players since he took over, with performances and results on home soil dropping some way below par. It must be tough to play in front of home fans that repeatedly boo their manager and 'star' striker and, the 8-0 drubbing of Aston Villa aside, Chelsea have underperformed at home since October, with that win their only one at Stamford Bridge in their last 7 Premier League outings.
On the other side, Arsenal have been doing well away from home, remaining unbeaten in their last 5 on the road in the league, and losing only 3 of their last 19. Also, when widely expected to lose at Chelsea last season, the Gunners romped to a 5-3 victory and will certainly take a lot of confidence from that result. They can be backed at 1.90 to avoid defeat here and could be good value for it given Chelsea's home form.
Arsenal were, last season, behind at half time and came back to win that 8-goal thriller. Chelsea have, in fact, been ahead at half time in each of their last 4 games at home to Arsenal whatever the final result (2 wins apiece). In years gone by, Chelsea have started the better side, and it may be worth betting on them to do so again, with odds of 2.50 on Chelsea to lead at half time.
If Chelsea do start well, they will be looking towards new signing Demba Ba for goals, with the Senegalese striker having made a great start to life in London, scoring twice on his debut before adding to his tally with the first goal in midweek against Southampton. Additionally, in his final game in Newcastle colours, Ba scored a brace in the 7-3 defeat at the Emirates, and is clearly capable of troubling the Gunners' backline. Only Steven Fletcher (6) has scored first more times in the Premier League this season than Ba (5), and he is the bookies' favourite to be first goalscorer at Stamford Bridge this weekend, and odds of 4.75 reflect how likely he is to do so again.
Tottenham vs Manchester United - Match Preview
With Spurs unexpectedly ending their hoodoo at Old Trafford with a 3-2 win earlier this season, there will be a greater degree of optimism in the home crowd for this game than there usually is when they face United. However, Tottenham have not done a league double over Ferguson's men since 1990, and have not beaten them at home in the league since 2001. Indeed, they have improved markedly in that time, but records as bad as that often prey on the minds of the players and could affect the outcome.
One thing is for sure at White Hart Lane, though, and that is that Robin van Persie will be a constant threat for United and, given his form - 9 goals in his last 9 Premier League games - he is deservedly odds-on favourite to score. In his time at Arsenal he would raise his game to face their rivals and he has a fantastic record as a result, with 5 goals and 5 assists in his last 10 appearances against Tottenham. Odds of 1.90 on van Persie to score anytime are worth a flutter.
As for when exactly those goals will come, both Tottenham and United have been involved in their fair share of late drama this season, with both teams' games seeing significantly more goals in the second half. Spurs have scored a Premier League-high of 72% of their goals this season in the second half, and have also conceded more than 3 times as many goals after the break (21) as before (6). United, meanwhile, have come from behind to win on countless occasions already and have both scored and conceded more 2nd half goals than 1st. Each of the last 3 meetings between the sides have seen more goals after the halfway mark and you can back the 2nd half to have more goals than the 1st at 2.00 this Sunday.
The outcome of the game is something that is possibly more difficult to predict, but given Spurs' terrible record against the league leaders there is reason to back United. What is more, while Spurs have only lost 1 of their last 10 league games, they have lost each of their last 4 against teams currently in the top 6. United are capable of breaking down any defence, and could score a few goals this weekend, particularly with Spurs missing Sandro's protection in front of the defence. United have won by a 3-1 scoreline on 2 of their last 3 visits to White Hart Lane and the Red Devils to do so again - at 17.00 - is a good 'longshot' bet.