QPR vs Manchester United
If QPR survive in Premier League for another season, they won't have their away form to thank. A 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Burnley last time out made it 10 losses from 10 on the road in the league for the Hoops and left them a point adrift of safety after 21 games. Fortunately for manager Harry Redknapp, however, they are back on home soil this weekend. They will face the tough task of hosting a Manchester United side chasing a way back into the top 4, though.
In fact, only one of their remaining games at Loftus Road - where they have only tasted defeat twice in the league all season - will be against a team currently in the bottom half of the table, and that is against a thus far underwhelming Everton side who will certainly harbour hopes of climbing into the top half. That means the Rs have to make their ground into even more of a fortress than it already is, and with United having won only 2 of their 10 away games so far, the opportunity is there for Redknapp's men to take. According to WhoScored.com's ratings they have been the fifth best team at home (averaging 7.27), with only Arsenal, City and Liverpool averaging more shots per game than them (17.9). They are dangerous at home and will be a real threat to United's Champions League aspirations this weekend, even if the league table hints at a different story.
Burnley vs Crystal Palace
Alan Pardew continues his quest for adulation at Crystal Palace with a trip to fellow relegation battlers Burnley this weekend. After enduring months of protest and hatred at Newcastle, Pardew moved to London and introduced himself with a brilliant comeback victory over Tottenham last week. Quite where his biggest strengths lie isn't abundantly obvious, but the fact that he has won more points from losing positions (13) this season than any other Premier League manager tells a story in itself.
While Sean Dyche, meanwhile, hasn't turned many games his side's way - in fact they have only 4 points and no wins from losing positions this season - but deserves huge amount of credit for the way he has changed Burnley's season. After taking 4 points from their first 10 games, the Clarets have picked up 16 from their last 11 games and might just be in with a chance of surviving. They have won 3 of their last 4 home games against Palace and will hope to extend that run here.
Manchester City vs Arsenal
The weekend's climax is late on Sunday afternoon, with Arsenal the visitors to Manchester City in a huge game for both teams. City have slipped up in drawing to Burnley and Everton recently, thereby leaving the title initiative in Chelsea's hands, while Arsenal are edging towards the top 4 but remain thoroughly unconvincing nonetheless. Some visiting fans will probably just be hoping to avoid the same kind of pummelling they suffered away to the Premier League's best last season.
Manchester City: Players linked with a move to the Etihad
Manchester City: Players linked with a move to the Etihad
1/5 Marco Reus
Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus is on a number of clubs' radars including Manchester City. His release clause of around £20m is sure to be activated sooner rather than later, although there are fears over his long-term fitness after suffering a number of ankle injuries in recent times.
2/5 Julian Draxler
The Schalke attacking midfielder appears to have fallen off the Arsenal radar of late but Manchester City remain interested in the Germany international, who impressed in the Champions League group games against Manchester City. Draxler would cost in excess of £20m, although he has not quite pushed on as far as he would've liked since emerging in the scene a few years ago.
3/5 Kevin De Bruyne
The former Chelsea midfielder is being linked with a Premier League return after resurrecting his career at Wolfsburg. De Bruyne has made 25 appearances for the Bundesliga side this season in all competitions, socring six goals along the way, and he could yet be the target of a surprise bid from City to bring him back to England.
4/5 Alexandre Lacazette
The Lyon winger has hinted that he could be on the way out of the French club by admitting his future lies in either England or Spain. That has alerted Manchester City, who appear to be keen to land the talented 23-year-old.
5/5 Ross Barkley
Ross Barkley remains a long-term target for City but a mega-money move around the £40m mark may have to wait until the summer due to Uefa's FFP restrictions imposed on City this season. There's no doubting he is one of England's brightest talents, and would also help City fill their home-grown quota in the Champions League.
17 of the 41 goals Arsenal conceded last season came in 3 games at City, Liverpool and Chelsea, and although there were improvements in losing by only two goals to nil at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, doubts will certainly linger as to their chances this weekend. It is likely that Francis Coquelin will marshall midfield for the away side, and subduing the creative instincts of David Silva and co. could be a task too great for him.
The debate over whether Alexis Sanchez or the returning Sergio Aguero is the better player continues to rage in the build up, and it is likely that their performances will have a significant impact on the outcome of this game. Sanchez has rather carried his team of late; his tally of 19 goals and assists is more than any other player in the Premier League this season. When he plays well, his team tends to succeed. He does, however, need to raise his game against the league's better sides, with only 2 the goals he has been directly involved in come against teams in the current top 8. He is an unquestionably fantastic footballer, but until he maintains form against the best teams he will not eclipse City's Argentine forward.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com, where you can find yet more stats, including live in-game data and unique player and team ratings.
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