City prioritise points, Arsenal eye top four
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini insists points rather than performances are uppermost in his mind as he seeks to end a tough month on top of the Premier League. City host third-placed Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday aiming to maintain or even extend their three-point lead at the summit, and at the same time put a serious dent in their opponents' own title ambitions.
Remaining top going into February will be an impressive achievement for City, who are without influential midfielder Yaya Toure plus his brother Kolo - the Ivorians are on CAF Africa Cup of Nations duty - captain Vincent Kompany due to suspension and forward Mario Balotelli because of injury.
Mancini told the Manchester Evening News: "We know it is difficult - it is hard at this moment. Until 10 February we can have a problem.
"But we should fight. It is not important that we play good football for a month. It is important that we take the points."
Second-placed Manchester United travel to London to take on an Arsenal side on Sunday who will be gunning for revenge after losing 8-2 at Old Trafford earlier this season. Arsene Wenger's team trail fourth-placed Chelsea by four points heading into the weekend, but goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is confident they can still qualify for the UEFA Champions League by finishing in the top four, despite last Sunday's defeat at Swansea City.
"I am confident we will get into the top four," the Poland international told the Gunners' official website. "We don't deserve to be outside the top four.
"We should be challenging for trophies every year and I believe the results will pick up and we will at least finish in the top four, because we have the quality in the squad to succeed."
Chelsea can take their lead over Arsenal to seven points - at least temporarily - if they can beat Norwich City in a Saturday lunchtime encounter at Carrow Road. Blues manager Andre Villas-Boas has described inconsistency as the "cancer" which has affected their season so far, but they head into the game in Norfolk on the back of three straight wins in all competitions.
QPR, Wolves out to arrest poor form
Chelsea's west London neighbours Queens Park Rangers face a vital home game against bottom side Wigan Athletic in Mark Hughes's first home league game at the helm. They lost at Newcastle United on his debut last weekend to slip into the bottom three and have taken only one point from their last seven league games - a run which cost former boss Neil Warnock his job.
Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean, who has held on to his post despite some supporters calling for him to be sacked, will be hoping to build on the impressive 3-1 win over Fulham last weekend when they take on Everton at Goodison Park. The victory over the Cottagers took them out of the relegation zone and Kean, whose star defender Chris Samba this week handed in a transfer request, will be hoping to stay out of it with a positive result on Merseyside.
Two of the league's most highly-rated managers meet at the Stadium of Light as Martin O'Neill's Sunderland host Brendan Rodgers' Swansea, while Newcastle are away to Fulham and Stoke City host West Bromwich Albion.
Wolverhampton Wanderers will aim to arrest a run of seven league games without a win when Aston Villa visit Molineux, while second-bottom Bolton Wanderers are targeting a second home league win of the season against Liverpool in the Saturday evening match.