Manchester City and Chelsea are set to do battle at the Etihad on Monday, a monumental clash that will pit the first-place Citizens against the third-place Blues.
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City managed to move to the top of the Premier League table by capitalizing on Arsenal's 2-2 draw with Southampton on Tuesday, cruising to a 5-1 demolition of Tottenham at White Hart Lane the following day.
The Citizens have been in cruise control over the past couple of months, winning its last eight Premier League contests. After suffering defeat at Sunderland on Nov. 10, City has gone on to take a total of 34 points from 12 games.
But even in such a rich vein of form, the Citizens only find themselves one point clear of Arsenal at the Premier League summit, and manager Manuel Pellegrini does not think his side deserves to be labeled the title favorites.
"I think it's too soon to be the favorites - [there are] a lot of matches to play," Pellegrini told the club's official website after Wednesday defeat of Spurs. "If we continue to play the way we are, we will have chances to win but it's early."
City boasts an unblemished home record through 11 league matches at the Etihad this term, but Chelsea will be quite motivated to end that spell Monday. Not only did the Blues drop points for the first time in five Premier League outings with a scoreless draw against West Ham on Wednesday, but they can take confidence from their 2-1 win over City at Stamford Bridge in October.
Chelsea can lean on its stout defense, which has leaked just three goals in the club's last eight matches. And with Sergio Aguero, City's main scoring threat, looking doubtful for Monday's clash, the Blues certainly have a solid opportunity to pick up some valuable road points.
Building to Monday's main course is one of England's fiercest rivalries, taking place at St. James' Park in Saturday's early fixture. Newcastle suffered a 2-1 loss at the Stadium of Light earlier in the season, but the Magpies will be hoping to reverse the result when they play host to Sunderland in the latest installment of the Tyne-Wear derby.
Manchester United has been rejuvenated by the arrival of Juan Mata, who helped lead the club to a 2-0 defeat of Cardiff City on Tuesday. The Red Devils have taken just two wins from their last four Premier League outings, but the club is hopeful that Mata can bring two successive wins with maximum points at Stoke City on Saturday.
Danny Rose, who was harshly sent off in Tottenham's horrific defeat to Manchester City on Wednesday, had his red card rescinded by the English Football Association this week and is available for selection this weekend. Spurs will head to the KC Stadium on Saturday to face a Hull City side that is hoping to snap a four-game slide.
Also on Saturday, Fulham will look to avoid a fourth straight defeat when it welcomes Southampton to Craven Cottage, Cardiff City will aim to snap a four- game losing streak when it hosts Norwich City, Aston Villa will attempt to build upon its narrow midweek win with a vital victory over Everton at Goodison Park and West Ham United squares off with Swansea City at Upton Park.
On Sunday, Arsenal will look to apply some additional pressure on Chelsea and City by taking three points from its contest with Crystal Palace at the Emirates, and Liverpool heads to the Hawthorns to do battle with West Bromwich Albion.