It’s third against fourth in the English Premier League this weekend as Manchester United entertains Southampton with both teams in a fine vein of form. United is unbeaten in 11 matches, 10 in the league.
”Going into the New Year on the back of a good run means that it’s a case of working even harder to climb the table and get as many points as we can,” United defender Chris Smalling said. ”We need to do as much as possible on the pitch and, as an individual, do as much as we can in terms of recovery and extra work.”
After a dip in form which saw it lose four matches on the trot, Southampton is back on track and has won three of its past four league matches – drawing the other one, against league leader Chelsea.
Fifth-place Tottenham will be a keen spectator of Sunday’s match. It visits Crystal Palace the previous day, with Spurs two points off the Champions League places.
Arsenal, which is a point further back, hosts Stoke on Sunday.
Here are some other things to watch:
STRIKING RETURN FOR CITY: Manchester City strikers Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko are back in full training, a timely boost while their team is neck and neck with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League.
Dzeko strained his calf warming up for the Leicester match a month ago, shortly after returning from another injury, adding to Manuel Pellegrini’s problems up front after Aguero, who had 19 goals in 17 starts, injured his knee in the previous match.
City managed to cope, picking up 13 points from five matches to draw level with Chelsea at the top of the table.
City visits Everton, while Chelsea entertains Newcastle during a dip in form; a draw against Southampton and 5-3 loss at Tottenham.
THE LONG GOODBYE: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s farewell tour moves on to Sunderland on Saturday.
Since saying he’s heading to the LA Galaxy after the Premier League season, Gerrard has kept his focus amid an ongoing debate over whether Liverpool did enough to keep him, and scored two penalties in an FA Cup third-round win over Wimbledon on Monday.
”His concentration is now on football, he has announced where he is going so you have all the information, and he has done all his interviews,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. ”Now we really have to concentrate on the football and the team and keep the momentum going.”
ESCAPING THE DROP: There was no movement in the drop zone in the last round, as all three clubs managed to pick up a point, and none of the three clubs above them lost either.
On the bottom sits Leicester, which fought from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Liverpool on New Year’s Day. It is three points below Crystal Palace and Burnley, and four points behind 17th-place West Bromwich Albion. It hosts Aston Villa on Saturday.
Burnley entertains QPR, with both teams on a run of two consecutive draws, while Crystal Palace welcomes Tottenham, which is on a six-match unbeaten run in the league.