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Friday, December 3, 2010
Can Chelsea get back to the top?

• Second-place Chelsea hosts Everton on Saturday morning at 9:55 a.m. ET on ESPN2 and For the first time this season, the Blues are not at the top of the table, after winning just once in their past five league games. Even though Chelsea trails Manchester United by two points, ESPN's Soccer Power Index still gives the London side the best chance to win the league, at 48.2 percent. But Everton will look to continue its recent success against Chelsea. Last season, Everton and Manchester City were the only Premier League clubs that Chelsea did not beat.

• First-place Manchester United, which has a 37.5 percent chance of winning the league according to the Soccer Power Index, was scheduled to play Blackpool for the first time since a Division 2 meeting in 1975. Contrary to popular belief, United's Ryan Giggs did not play in that game. The seemingly ageless midfielder turned 37 last week and is set to make his 850th appearance for United in all competitions. He has played in nearly 100 more games than any other Red Devil, with Bobby Charlton's 758 appearances next on the list. But Giggs will have to wait to reach 850, as the match has been postponed due to freezing conditions at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road stadium.

• Third-place Arsenal is the only other club with realistic title hopes, according to the Soccer Power Index, holding a 13.1 percent chance of claiming the crown. The Gunners welcome Fulham to Emirates Stadium on Saturday, looking to continue the Cottagers' road woes. Fulham is 0-21-3 all-time at Arsenal and hasn't fared well away from home this season, either. Fulham remains one of four clubs that is winless on the road in this Premier League campaign, despite five away draws.

• Manchester City will host Bolton at Eastlands on Saturday in a meeting of top-six teams. Each club is unbeaten in its past five games, the second-longest active streak in the Premier League, behind Manchester United's 20-game run. Despite City's massive spending this offseason, the team is in precisely the same position as last season, with 26 points from 15 games. Bolton is in sixth place with 23 points and is the most-improved team from this juncture last season, when Wanderers had a mere 13 points and were in 19th place.

• On Monday, Aston Villa visits Anfield stadium (2:55 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and, where 10th-place Liverpool has won three straight matches. Villa won 3-1 at Liverpool a season ago, its only win in 17 league games there. But Villa has won only once in its past nine league games and is 0-5-3 against teams currently in the top half of the table, the worst mark in the Premier League.