Arsenal vs. Spurs highlights big weekend
The North London derby between third-place Tottenham and fourth-place Arsenal highlights the Premier League weekend, while the other three teams in the top five all face sides they should dispatch easily. And don't forget the Carling Cup final Sunday as Liverpool faces underdog Cardiff City at Wembley. Here are five notes to prepare you for all the action in England.
• In the midst of churning rumors about Andre Villas-Boas' job security, Chelsea hosts Bolton on Saturday. Chelsea is winless in five straight games overall, matching its longest winless streak in the past 17 years. Bolton should be the remedy for Chelsea's issues, as the Blues have won seven straight meetings by a combined 21-4 score, and Bolton hasn't won in the past 16 league matchups.
• Manchester City hosts Blackburn on Saturday, seeking its 13th straight home win to start the season. That would tie the Premier League record, set by Newcastle in 1995-96, when the Magpies finished as runners-up to Manchester United. Speaking of United, Blackburn won at Old Trafford earlier this season, and Rovers could beat both City and United on the road in a single season for the first time in 50 years.
• Rivals Arsenal and Tottenham meet for the 150th time in league play Sunday, with Arsenal leading 60-48-41. After a 2-1 win at White Hart Lane in October, Spurs could sweep the season matchup for the first time since 1992-93. Tottenham is unbeaten in four straight versus Arsenal, and a five-match undefeated run would be Spurs' longest in the series since 1996.
• Manchester United visits Carrow Road on Sunday, facing Norwich City away for the first time since a 2-0 loss in 2005. Wayne Rooney looks to score two goals in three consecutive league games for the first time. Both his goals against Chelsea three weeks ago were on penalties, which is appropriate since United leads the Premier League in penalties awarded (eight) and converted (six). Norwich has been given a league-low one penalty this season and has conceded seven, tied for third-most.
• To cap the weekend on Sunday, Liverpool and Cardiff City play for the Carling Cup title at Wembley. Liverpool can end a five-season trophy drought that has lasted since the 2006 FA Cup. The Reds have a record seven Carling Cup championships and a total of 43 major titles, two ahead of Manchester United for most by an English club. Welsh side Cardiff City's only major trophy was the 1927 FA Cup, when the Bluebirds defeated Arsenal 1-0 in the final.