Premier League: A match-by-match guide to the weekend's action

The Premier League is hotting up at both ends of the table, here we look at the key talking points ahead of the weekend's action.


Tottenham v Arsenal

North London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal meet at White Hart Lane on Saturday as both continue their push for a UEFA Champions League berth come the end of the season. Tottenham are just two points behind their near neighbours, who have won their last three Premier League games in a row. An Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equaliser back in September stretched Arsenal's unbeaten record over Tottenham to four - an issue Mauricio Pochettino will be keen to address in his first home derby in the White Hart Lane hot seat.

Key stat: Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six Premier League home matches.

Aston Villa v Chelsea

Life does not get any easier for Villa boss Paul Lambert. After his side were subjected to a humiliating 5-0 defeat at Arsenal last weekend, they now face Premier League leaders Chelsea. Pressure is mounting on Lambert, who described last weekend's loss at the Emirates Stadium as a "capitulation". The Aston Villa defence will have to be at the top of their game with Chelsea having netted 52 times already this season. Colombian Juan Cuadrado could make his first start for the visitors since joining from Italian side Fiorentina on transfer deadline day.

Key Stat: Aston Villa have failed to score in their last six Premier League games - the worst run in the club's history.   

Leicester City v Crystal Palace

Nigel Pearson's hopes of guiding Leicester to Premier League survival could hinge on games like these. Palace's own survival chances hang in the balance - sitting four points clear of the relegation zone - but Leicester's situation is more desperate, with Pearson's strugglers bottom having won just twice at home in the league all season. Both sides made new signings in January, and Crystal Palace may hand debuts to Pape Souare and Shola Ameobi.

Key Stat: Palace have won their first three away games under Alan Pardew in all competitions.

Manchester City v Hull City

Defending champions Manchester City need a win to ensure Chelsea do not slip further from reach in the title race. Manuel Pellegrini's men have not recorded a Premier League win since New Year's Day, when they beat Sunderland 3-2. The burden of injuries is easing for Hull manager Steve Bruce, whose side sit 18th, but the visitors could be without new signing Dame N'Doye, with the former Lokomotiv Moscow man awaiting international clearance. Bruce will be assisted by Mike Phelan for the first time.

Key Stat: Hull are without a win or a goal in their last four games in all competitions.
QPR v Southampton

QPR face Southampton in their first game since the departure of manager Harry Redknapp, who left to undergo knee replacement surgery. It is not yet clear who will take the reins at Loftus Road, although Tim Sherwood is heavy favourite for the vacancy. After winning their last four away games, Southampton represent a daunting first game at the helm for caretaker bosses Chris Ramsey and Kevin Bond.

Key Stat: QPR have yet to record a win - league or cup - in 2015.
Swansea City v Sunderland

After their smash-and-grab victory against Southampton at St Mary's Stadium, Swansea go into their game against Sunderland with bags of confidence. The Welsh club were not expected to come away from the south coast with anything, but a sublime Jonjo Shelvey strike secured maximum points for manager Garry Monk, who celebrated a year in the job this week. Sunderland, meanwhile, beat fellow strugglers Burnley in a comfortable 2-0 win last time out in the league. Gus Poyet has not registered an away league victory with Sunderland since their 1-0 derby day success over Newcastle United in December, but guided his side to a 3-1 win at Fulham in Tuesday's FA Cup fourth-round replay.

Key Stat: Swansea are unbeaten in their last six matches at home to Sunderland.
Everton v Liverpool

The Merseyside derby is a fixture in which Everton have not beaten Liverpool in all competitions since 2010, with the last meeting at Goodison Park producing a thrilling 3-3 draw. Despite being referred to as 'the friendly derby', Brendan Rodgers will stop at nothing to help Liverpool's European challenge gather momentum in what will be Steven Gerrard's last game against Everton. Although Liverpool sit seventh, they are only four points behind Southampton in fourth. Aaron Lennon could make his debut for Everton after sealing a loan switch from Tottenham.  

Key Stat: Liverpool have won five of their last six league fixtures.

Burnley v West Brom 

Burnley will be looking to set the record straight after a humiliating 4-0 defeat to West Brom the last time these sides met. Burnley have picked up somewhat since that miserable day in September, seeing off Hull City, Southampton and QPR at Turf Moor since. Tony Pulis, who spoke this week of putting striker Saido Berahino in the "naughty chair" for talking about his desire to move to a bigger club, suffered his first loss as West Brom boss last Saturday in a comprehensive 3-0 reverse at the hands of Tottenham. West Brom's marquee signing Darren Fletcher could be used to shore up the midfield for Pulis after that hammering.

Key Stat: West Brom are winless in their last six away matches.
Newcastle United v Stoke City

Two league wins on the bounce have lifted Stoke into 10th place, above Saturday's opponents Newcastle. The St James' Park outfit thrashed Hull City 3-0 last weekend to mark John Carver's first match since being handed the coaching position until the end of the season. If he is to make the job a permanent one for the new season, he will need to emulate performances like the one at the KC Stadium. A Peter Crouch goal back in September was enough to earn Stoke a narrow win over Newcastle.

Key Stat: Stoke have shipped 10 goals in their last three visits to St James' Park.
West Ham v Manchester United

West Ham have the chance to once again elbow themselves into the spotlight with a victory over Manchester United. Sam Allardyce's side have won plenty of plaudits this season, but suffered a minor setback with a 2-0 defeat at Liverpool last weekend. West Ham were unlucky to lose at Old Trafford earlier in the season - 10-man United eventually prevailing 2-1. Louis van Gaal's men finally saw off Cambridge United with a 3-0 FA Cup replay win in midweek and are in good form, although the Dutchman will have to watch his words should things go awry after being hit with a Football Association charge for making ill-judged comments.

Key Stat: Manchester United have lost just two Premier League away games all season.