After the sojourn for the quarter finals of the FA Cup, the Premier League is back in full swing this weekend; the unquestionable standout fixture is Liverpool’s trip to the Etihad late on Sunday afternoon. The baffling thing about Liverpool this season is that they have seemed completely comfortable against the other top six sides, unbeaten in these matches so far this season and having taken a total of 19 points out of the 27 available; when they have struggled it has been against the lower ranked but defensively organised teams. While it would be simple to assume that Liverpool are nailed on to take at least a point from this game, concern is growing amongst Liverpool fans after last weekend’s ‘ugly win’ over Burnley that the Reds may be running out of steam just when they need it the most.
Table-toppers Chelsea have a trip to the traditionally inhospitable ground formerly known as the Britannia Stadium, with the chasing pack holding out hope that Stoke will be able to do what they have so often in the past and halt the leaders’ progress. A win for Chelsea however would strengthen their position further, especially if Man City and/ or Spurs were to drop points.
The early game on Saturday sees Arsenal seeking some form with a trip to the Hawthorns, a place where they have often struggled in the past against a manager in Tony Pullis who they have never relished facing. I will be on one of my periodic football tourism trips, this time in Porto and engaging in the traditional weekend break activity of watching the game in an Irish bar; suffice to say I am anticipating a match to be endured rather than enjoyed.
Meanwhile over the North Sea, Feyenoord’s highly entertaining 5-2 win over AZ Alkmaar, very much keeps the dream of a first championship since the turn of the century alive. This weekend they travel to Heerenveen a win there, regardless of how Ajax fare at lowly Excelsior would maintain their lead at four points going into the International break with the prospect of an absolutely vital Die Klassieker to come immediately after the break. It may well be that Holland provides the more exciting title race for this particular football obsessive.