With two points separating Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal respectively, at the top of the table, every game takes on greater significance this time of year. This week Chelsea are hosting an Aston Villa squad who are trying to get through a handful of injuries, affecting their defense, midfield, and forward line. Chelsea can ill afford to drop any more points and will surely look to pounce on Villa early.
Manchester United head to Bolton having won their last four while the Wanderers are undefeated in their last six. The big story here is the fitness of Wayne Rooney. United should be heavy favorites regardless of whether he plays or not, but what manager Sir Alex Ferguson will do is anybody's guess. I think Rooney will get a rest ahead of the mid-week Champions League match against Bayern Munich.
Arsenal have won six straight in the Premier League and will likely have a chip on their shoulder as they take on Birmingham City. It was against City two years ago that Arsenal's Eduardo suffered a horendous broken ankle following a wayward tackle by Martin Taylor. Eduardo has yet to regain the form he had two years ago and this could be a chance for him to exorcise whatever demons may be lurking in the back of his mind. Birmingham have only lost twice at home this campaign, so Arsene Wenger's men can ill afford to look ahead to their highly anticipated match against Barcelona later this week in the Champions League.
Chelsea 2-0 Aston Villa
Manchester United 3-1 Bolton
Birmingham City 1-2 Arsenal