Spurs, Arsenal in big clash
Rarely has a north London derby had such implications for the destination of the English Premier League trophy.
When Tottenham host Arsenal tomorrow it will be a meeting of second and third with only three points separating.
After both lost Wednesday, a draw between the neighbours could allow Leicester to move further in front in their improbable title challenge when they travel to Watford tomorrow.
Leicester were held by West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday but were celebrating the following night when the three teams below them Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City all lost.
Arsenal's 2-1 home defeat to Swansea has left Arsene Wenger's side on a three-game losing streak in all competitions for the first time in six years. That first Premier League title since 2004 is looking increasingly hard to secure for Arsene Wenger, even in this most unpredictable season.
"We have to focus on our job and come back reminding ourselves that we have some quality as well," the Arsenal manager said.
Tottenham's 1-0 loss at West Ham on Wednesday punctured the optimism gathering around White Hart Lane that the 55-year wait for the title could be ending. Instead of going top in March for the first time since 1964, Tottenham remain second.
Top-scorer Harry Kane is on a four-game barren run in front of goal but Arsenal will be without injured Petr Cech tomorrow as the goalkeeper recovers from a calf injury.
"One year ago we always spoke about reducing the gap with the top four and now we are second in the table," Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said Thursday. "Who knows what will happen in the future? Now we need to be focused on the present."
The future for Tottenham should be a return to the Champions League, having only competed once in Europe's top competition in 2010-11.
Suddenly Manchester United's prospects of returning to the top four are looking far healthier. Buoyed by four successive wins in all competitions, United are now only fifth due to neighbours City having a superior goal difference.
"We are showing passion," United midfielder Ander Herrera said ahead of Sunday's game at West Brom. "We fight to the end. We show when we don't play good we can win. I think that the attitude is very good.
"I am optimistic because we can still fight for everything. We want to be in the top four. We know it's not easy because our opponents are tough, but we are Man United: we have to win."
SWANSEA HEALTH SCARE
Swansea head coach Francesco Guidolin remained hospitalised yesterday after missing his side's victory over Arsenal with a chest infection.
The 60-year-old Italian was referred to a respiratory specialist in London.
"Francesco remains comfortable in hospital and is receiving excellent care and treatment," Swansea said in a statement. "He is making good progress and is in good spirits ... no release date from hospital has been confirmed at present."
The victory at Arsenal, with first-team coach Alan Curtis in charge, moved Swansea six points clear of tomorrow's opponents Norwich, who are in the relegation zone.
Chelsea remain unbeaten in the league since Guus Hiddink took charge in December, with the ailing champions rising from the relegation zone to 10th place. Chelsea host Stoke tomorrow.