There is a long way to go in the Premier League title race, but the battle between Manchester and north London this weekend could prove pivotal.
Top plays third and fifth plays second as competition at the top hots up. Manchester City put their 100 per cent home record on the line when they take on Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, while cross-city rivals Manchester United travel to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal just hours later. Pride is at stake for Spurs and Arsenal after humbling early-season defeats.
Two north London victories would be the order of the day for neutrals and give the premier league odds a real shake up. A Manchester City win would see them go eight points clear of Spurs and United would stretch their lead over Harry Redknapp’s side to six points with a win over Arsenal. Even with 16 games to go, that could prove insurmountable.
This weekend will be a big test of Tottenham’s title credentials. They were held at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday and will have to do what no other side has managed to do this season, take points away from the Etihad Stadium.
They can take comfort in the fact City haven’t looked as assured without their African stars and will have taken note of the way Liverpool stifled the leaders in the League Cup.
Arsenal, too, have a good home record and will fancy their chances against a nervy United side. However, the Gunners have been off colour themselves of late and will need to cut out basic errors at the back if they are to come out on top. It should be an open game, a great spectacle for the neutral but a tough one to call for punters looking at the premier league betting.
To keep the title race going outside of Manchester, the north London clubs need to produce.