London - Manchester City host Arsenal this weekend to begin an important stretch that could go a long way in determining the Premier League title.
Manchester City begin a two-game stretch this weekend that could go a long way in determining if they retain their Premier League title.
The defending champions host fifth-place Arsenal on Sunday, followed by a January 31 visit to leaders Chelsea.
While City are unbeaten in 12 league matches, an unexpected 2-2 draw with Everton last weekend dropped them two points back of Chelsea.
"We now have Arsenal and Chelsea coming up, but this is the Premier League, you have to play against tough teams and you can't choose when," City midfielder Fernandinho said. "If you want to fight for the title, you have to play to win these games.
"They are two difficult games, two great teams. We'll see who is in command after these two games. But it can help to win the title."
Arsenal are in a crowded fight for a top-four finish and a spot in the Champions League. The Gunners are fifth, one point behind Manchester United, but just four points ahead of Liverpool in eighth.
Arsenal have won just one of their last five visits to the blue side of Manchester and suffered a 6-3 defeat last season. That, though, was without Alexis Sanchez, who's shone in his first season at the club by scoring 18 goals.
"He's got the whole package and hopefully it will continue because ultimately that is going to help us," midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain told Arsenal's website.
Chelsea visit a Swansea side who begin life without Wilfried Bony, after the striker's move to Man City on Wednesday. That's opened the way for Bafetimbi Gomis.
"I've got 100 per cent faith in Bafe," manager Garry Monk said. "I think the more game time for Bafe he gets, the more used the team will get when we're playing him."
Southampton hope to continue their fine run of form with a visit to Newcastle. The Saints are unbeaten in five in the league, including a 1-0 win at Manchester United last time out that vaulted them up to third place.
Manchester United go to Queens Park Rangers looking to rebound from their first loss in 11 games. While QPR are next-to-last, they've enjoyed success at home where they've secured all 19 of their points this season.
"This United game is a big one for us," defender Steven Caulker said on QPR's website. "At home our form in the league has been good and we want to maintain that.
"We know a result against United will have the table looking a lot healthier and set us up much better for going into the back-end of the season."
In Saturday's other matches, Aston Villa play Liverpool, Burnley host Crystal Palace, Stoke visit Leicester, and Tottenham are at Sunderland. West Ham are home to Hull City on Sunday, while West Brom travel to Everton on Monday.