With the FA Cup being the centre of focus at the weekend, the Premier League faces a busy midweek schedule of games with all of the twenty teams in action in a busy fixture list on Tuesday and Wednesday night. To further add spice to the occasion, there are some huge encounters due to be played, particularly on Wednesday, which could well have a major say in who eventually lifts the title, who claims the third and fourth place spots and which teams really are pushing on towards the top half of the table and which ones are likely to be embroiled in a relegation battle come the end of the season.
After an already busy weekend of key matches, you can bet that many betting sites online will be taking major money from Thursday onward as the picture and the overall shape of the EPL could become a lot clearer by Thursday morning. The action begins Tuesday night with several intriguing encounters. Portsmouth take on Sunderland in a clash of two of the Premier league’s out of form sides with both needing the points desperately. Wigan take on Stoke, though few will be betting on Maynor Figueroa repeating his stunning free kick from his own half during the clash earlier on this season at the Britannia stadium. Fulham will be confident of securing three points against Burnley at Craven Cottage while Manchester City will be looking to bounce back to form with three points at home to Bolton.
However it is Wednesday where some of the really big games will take place, none more so than at the Emirates Stadium where an improving Liverpool will be hoping to continue their better recent form (and avenge their 2-1 loss at Anfield) against Arsenal. The Gunners will know that another defeat would not only rule them out of title contention completely but would move the clubs beneath them, including Liverpool, into striking distance of third position. It looks like being a huge clash in North London and while the Gunners will start favourites, Liverpool will know that they will seldom face a better chance to get three points from an encounter that they have, traditionally, under performed in.
In the Midlands there is another huge clash with repercussions at the top of the table as Aston Villa take on Manchester United at Villa Park. The two teams have had contrasting fortunes of late, Villa have struggled to score goals and win games, whereas Manchester United have been banging goals in at a frightening rate. However it is a game neither team can afford to lose, or really draw, such is the tightness at the top of the table and this bodes well for another night of high drama at Villa Park.
There will also be great interest on Merseyside as Everton will be hoping to bounce back from their derby day disappointment at Anfield by recording a win over Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea. The Londoners will know they are in for a stern test at Goodison Park against a side which has improved a great deal since the season began.
West Ham face Birmingham in a six pointer at Upton Park and it is a game that Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola must feel his side must get something from, even against the in-form Blues. Spurs travel to relegation threatened Wolves with both sides needing nothing less than a victory to nurture their aspirations for the season and finally Hull take on Blackburn in a real relegation six pointer at the KC Stadium.
Which is why come Thursday morning, the bookies odds may be a little more refined and we may well have a better idea of which teams will be contesting the major prizes and those who will be strongly involved in a relegation battle, for the rest of the season.