LONDON,
United Kingdom
All
eyes will be on Stamford Bridge and the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League
this weekend as the battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League heats
up, while runaway leaders Liverpool can take another step towards the title.

With the league’s first winter break done and dusted, it is
full steam ahead for the clubs fighting to secure the lucrative Champions
League berths behind champions-elect Liverpool.

Any London derby between Chelsea and Tottenham is a feisty
occasion, but there is an extra spice to the rivals’ latest meeting as they are
in direct competition for a European place.

Fourth placed Chelsea are just one point ahead of fifth
placed Tottenham and a victory for Jose Mourinho’s men would take them above
his former club.

Chelsea are reeling from a lacklustre 2-0 home defeat
against Manchester United on Monday, but injury-hit Tottenham were beaten 1-0
by Leipzig in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Wednesday.

Hampered by their continued failure to turn possession in
tangible rewards, Chelsea have won one of their last six league games, and none
of their last four, leading to reports Blues boss Frank Lampard might find his
position under scrutiny if they don’t qualify for the Champions League.

Lampard’s decision to drop Kepa Arrizabalaga for the last
three games is said to have frustrated the Chelsea hierarchy, who made the
Spaniard the world’s most expensive goalkeeper less than two years ago.

It is the kind of delicate and potentially damaging issue
Mourinho had plenty of experience negotiating during his two spells as Chelsea
manager.

There is respect between Mourinho and Lampard from their
successful time together at Chelsea, but sympathy will be in short supply this
weekend given what is at stake for both men.

Tottenham have won their last three league games to close
the gap on Chelsea, but injuries to Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have left
Mourinho without a senior striker.

– ‘Take responsibility’ –

Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn and Dele Alli are Mourinho’s
alternative options and Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld is convinced
Tottenham can cope.

“People have to take responsibility about that,”
he said. “I think we have to solve this as a team.

“We have people with different qualities upfront now.
We have to keep the belief that people will step up for making goals.”

Arsenal and Everton, who meet in north London, are further
behind in the race, but the possibility of Manchester City losing their appeal
against a two-year Champions League ban means a fifth place finish could be
enough to reach Europe’s elite club competition.

Everton sit four points behind Tottenham after a five-game
unbeaten run featuring successive wins over Watford and Crystal Palace.

Carlo Ancelotti has masterminded Everton’s revival since
taking over from the sacked Marco Silva, but he has yet to secure a statement
win over one of the league’s bigger clubs.

Beating Arsenal on their own turf would qualify as a
significant moment for Ancelotti’s side, especially as the Gunners looked in
good form in their 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle last weekend.

Arsenal are unbeaten in their last six league games and lie
two points adrift of Everton, with Manchester United, Sheffield United and
Wolves also in the mix.

Manchester City play their second game since the shock
European ban when they travel to third placed Leicester, a game that will play
second fiddle to next week’s Champions League tie against Real Madrid for Pep
Guardiola’s side.

Liverpool’s staggering 22-point lead over City has turned
the title race into a procession and Monday’s visit from struggling West Ham
offers an ideal chance to bounce back from a 1-0 Champions League last 16 first
leg defeat at Atletico Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp’s team have dropped just two points all season
and are on a run of 17 consecutive league wins.

They need just five more wins from their remaining 12 games
to take the title for the first time since 1990.

Fixtures (1500 GMT unless stated)

Saturday

Burnley v Bournemouth, Chelsea v Tottenham (1230 GMT),
Crystal Palace v Newcastle, Leicester v Manchester City (1730 GMT), Sheffield
United v Brighton, Southampton v Aston Villa

Sunday

Arsenal v Everton (1630 GMT), Manchester United v Watford
(1400 GMT), Wolves v Norwich (1400 GMT)

Monday

Liverpool v West Ham (2000 GMT)

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