With the FA Cup taking center stage this weekend, it’s only a small pause in what has been an unpredictable season so far in the Premier League. And so, ahead of gameweek 24, we take a look at five things to look out for in the next set of Premier League games next weekend.
Can Chelsea kick on?
Following yet another win over Arsenal, it’s fair to say that Guus Hiddink has done a good job of restoring order in the Blues dressing room. Since replacing Jose Mourinho, Chelsea are currently unbeaten under Hiddink, with three wins and four draws in their last seven games. It’s not the greatest set of results but considering Chelsea’s previous form, fans will definitely welcome similar results.
The only question is, can Chelsea kick on and finally start their season? Despite facing a ten man Arsenal, the win at the Emirates Stadium was great for morale and Chelsea fans can be forgiven for thinking their team can’t go on a run of form, bringing them up the table.
They’re only nine points away from 5th place United and with a run of wins, who knows how the table will shift in the next few weeks? Speaking of which, this signing should make things a little interesting:
We’re delighted to announce the loan signing of Alexandre Pato… https://t.co/KRVK7JGwhN #CFC pic.twitter.com/y4d3ohwjdQ
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 29, 2016
Will Swansea turn their season around?
Another team looking to kickstart their season is Swansea. Following a bright start in the league, the Swans just capitulated under Garry Monk and slowly dropped into the relegation zone. Results continued the same way until a solution was brought from Italy.
New manager, Francis Guidolin got a win in his debut match against Everton to take the Welsh side up to 15th — it was just their third win in their last 11 league games. The hope now, is that the experienced 60-year-old can keep the Swans in the Premier League or do even better with a midtable finish. Guidolin is definitely used to overachieving with his sides if his Udinese exploits are anything to go by and if he does continue to succeed, Swansea will have done well to (initially) waited and fill the void of Monk.
Swansea play West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns next.
Defeat to Chelsea, just a blip for Arsenal?
While they were down to ten men, Arsenal will still feel a bit demoralized that they lost yet again to a Chelsea side in the Premier League. A win — at home no less — would have continued to put some gap between them and Manchester City as well as remain level on points with Leicester. Most of all, it would have given them further confidence that they could finally win a first league title since 2004.
However, all is not lost. The title is far from decided and next week could very well see the Gunners back on top of the table. But it will definitely be interesting to see how Arsene Wenger’s side deal with Southampton at home. If it’s a routine win, you’d assume the Chelsea game was just a blip. But if it’s dropped points, you have to question Arsenal’s credentials and mental strength, especially seeing as they’ve only got three points out of the last possible nine.
It’s imperative that they get the three points against the Saints.
Leicester have a chance to really consolidate their spot
After a slight blip in the festive period, it looks like Leicester are back to business. With two impressive wins over Tottenham and Stoke, the Foxes find themselves back at top position, having established a three point lead over Arsenal and Manchester City.
It’s one thing to keep up with the title favourites, but Leicester actually have a really good chance of consolidating top spot if they can beat Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp’s side are fresh off of reaching the Capital One Cup final and will be in high spirits so if Claudio Ranieri can mastermind a win over Klopp, we might be seeing Leicester have as much as a six point lead come February.
That’s the case if Arsenal continue to falter against Southampton while Sunderland have always been a threat for City, especially with this season’s inconsistent away form. The injury to Kevin de Bruyne won’t help matters either so Leicester must show that they’re not just pretenders and take advantage of moments where they can drift away in the title race.
New signings should help Newcastle up the table
New signing, Jonjo Shelvey had a dream debut, impressing as Newcastle beat West Ham 2-1 to move out of the relegation zone. Despite his inconsistency, Shelvey can be a really useful player when he’s on form, proving many times that he can be one of the best midfielders in the league if he sets his mind to it.
Shelvey was followed by the signing of Andros Townsend from Tottenham — a player who has gone slightly backwards since 2014 but still clearly has talent. With consistent game time, one can imagine in a few weeks, Townsend will be in contention for an England place ahead of Euro 2016.
These are good signings by Steve McClaren, ones who should inject a bit of pace and technique to a side that has been lacking both consistently this season. Despite a loss to Watford which put the Magpies back in 18th place, it’s certainly not extreme to think these signings can help turn around Newcastle’s fortunes.