Published May 02, 2016
London, England (SportsNetwork.com) - Things couldn't be any closer at the top of the Premier League table as the season moves beyond the halfway point.
Chelsea and Manchester City have put together identical records through 20 games, including the same number of goals scored and against, leaving Jose Mourinho's men ahead of City on alphabetical order.
The London club has allowed City to chase them down in the past few games by securing just one point from their two most recent league outings.
A 1-1 draw with Southampton was followed by a 5-3 defeat at Tottenham, allowing Manuel Pellegrini's team to pull level with just under half the season to play.
Chelsea bounced back with a 3-0 FA Cup third-round victory against Watford last weekend, and now the Blues will try to avenge a 2-1 defeat against Newcastle at St James' Park in December.
That setback marked the third straight time that Chelsea has gone to that ground and come back with no points, but things have been entirely different between these two teams at Stamford Bridge.
Newcastle has only managed to win once at the Bridge in league play since 1986, and caretaker manager John Carver will have a huge task on his hands on Saturday.
Since taking over following the departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace, Carver has seen his Magpies held to a 3-3 draw by second-from-the-bottom Burnley before a 1-0 defeat to Leicester City in the FA Cup last weekend.
Carver could welcome back first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul, who has been out since November with an ankle injury, but key players Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse are both away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Fabricio Coloccini, Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback and Moussa Sissoko all missed the Leicester defeat through injury.
Manchester City has put together a run of eight wins and a draw from its last nine league matches, and the team could welcome back strikers Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko as well as defender Vincent Kompany from injury for Saturday's trip to Everton, which has lost four straight games in league play.
Manchester United hosts Southampton on Sunday in a battle of top-four sides as both teams aim to strengthen their Champions League credentials.
United enters the contest one point clear of the Saints after being held to a 1-1 draw by Stoke City, while Southampton notched a 2-0 win over Arsenal.
Tottenham is two points adrift of a top-four spot and Spurs will be eyeing three more points at relegation-battling Crystal Palace on Saturday, while Arsenal is one point behind Tottenham and hosts Stoke City on Sunday.
Liverpool squandered a two-goal lead against Leicester City in its last league outing and had to settle for a 2-2 draw. The Reds will be hoping for a better result from their trip to Sunderland on Saturday, with the Black Cats trying to move further from the relegation places.
Swansea City hosts West Ham with both teams harboring European aspirations and in the top half of the table, Burnley is one point from safety and entertains QPR, last-place Leicester City hosts Aston Villa and West Bromwich meets up with Hull City as both sides sit just above the bottom three.