Premier League preview

Leaders Arsenal must focus fully on their Premier League title bid with champions Manchester United just three points adrift.

The Gunners were understandably knocked from their stride by Eduardo da Silva's horrific leg break in the opening minutes of their match at Birmingham.

But having hit back from a goal down to lead 2-1 with time running out, Arsene Wenger's side let two vital points slip from their grasp with Gael Clichy conceding a late penalty which James McFadden gratefully slammed home.

Captain William Gallas' response was to throw the kind of tantrum many toddlers would be proud of, before dumping himself on self-imposed 'naughty seat' near the centre circle with tears threatening to roll down his cheeks as his disconsolate team-mates trooped off.

A little more leadership will be required at Emirates Stadium with Aston Villa, who took a point in the first-ever Premier League game at the Gunners' new home, the visitors on Saturday.

Manchester United took full advantage as they thumped hapless Newcastle 5-1 at St James' Park, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side now travelling to Craven Cottage to take on a Fulham side struggling in the drop zone.

Chelsea's improbable quadruple bid fell at the first hurdle as they were beaten by Tottenham in the Carling Cup final, and they now find themselves nine points off the pace in the league.

Avram Grant's men do have a game in hand, but will need to show a marked improvement on their Wembley display when they make the trip across London to tackle West Ham.

The race for fourth remains tight and tense with Everton currently in pole position as they welcome fellow high-flyers Portsmouth to Goodison Park, live on Sky Sports 1.

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has far loftier ambitions as he admitted this week that the even winning the UEFA Champions League would not make up for the club's shortcomings on the domestic front.

But fourth is the best the Anfield outfit can hope for this term, although Sunday's trip to Bolton, live on Sky Sports 1, will be another stern examination, with the Reebok Stadium rarely a happy hunting ground for Rafa Benitez's men.

Manchester City's Eastlands defeat by the Toffees on Monday saw them slip off the pace somewhat, and they will be determined to get back to winning ways with another home meeting against Wigan.

At the other end of the table, Sunderland will not get a better chance to end their hunt for an away victory as they make the trip to doomed Derby.

Reading, who have lost eight games on the spin to slide into the bottom three, travel to the North East to face Middlesbrough.

Newcastle's form is little better, as Kevin Keegan's search for a first win since his return to St James' Park continues against Blackburn.

Tottenham must hope the hangover from their Carling Cup triumph has cleared when they come up against Birmingham at St Andrews, with the Blues eager to pull clear of the relegation places.

Arsenal v Aston Villa

Arsenal have lost at home to Villa just twice, those defeats coming in the first two Premier League seasons, since then they have picked up nine wins and four draws. The Gunners have not lost in their last 18 Premier League games against Villa home or away. Villa have scored in their last 22 games, the best current run in the top-flight, but they haven't kept a clean sheet since November.

Birmingham v Tottenham

Spurs have kept consecutive clean sheets away from home, something they last achieved in the Premier League in August 2005. The reverse fixture where Birmingham won 3-2 was Alex McLeish's first game in charge. Robbie Keane has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League games against Birmingham, but he was sent off in the fixture at White Hart Lane.

Derby v Sunderland

Sunderland have the worst away record in the top flight with just two points and they have lost the last 10 in a row. Derby have the worst home record with six points from 13 games and the most goals conceded (24). The Rams have never scored more than one goal in a game against Sunderland in the Premier League.

Fulham v Manchester United

Fulham have lost their last six encounters against United and the Red Devils have never failed to score at Craven Cottage in the Premier League. Louis Saha has scored in all three of his Premier League starts against his former club, while Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in each of his last five starts against Fulham, netting seven in total.

Middlesbrough v Reading

Reading have lost their last eight Premier League games in a row and failed to score in five of the last seven. In their last three home games Boro have scored one goal in each, earning seven points in the process.

Newcastle v Blackburn

Newcastle have lost three of the last four games they have played against Blackburn at St James' without scoring in those three defeats. In their 12 Premier League visits to Newcastle, Blackburn have failed to score just twice. Since dispensing with Sam Allardyce's services, Newcastle have picked up just two points from 18 and conceded 19 goals in the process.

West Ham v Chelsea

West Ham have lost just once in their last nine home games, but the Hammers have lost their last five encounters against Chelsea, shipping 13 goals in the process. The two sides have not shared the points in the top flight since March 2000. Chelsea have lost just once in their last nine away Premier League matches, winning seven and drawing one.

Manchester City v Wigan

City have taken just one point from their previous five Premier League meetings with Wigan and both games at Eastlands ended 1-0 to the visitors. The Latics have kept just one clean sheet in their last 18 Premier League away games. City have not managed to win any of their last five matches at home in the Premier League.

Bolton v Liverpool

Bolton have scored only two goals in their last four home games, but have failed to score in this fixture just once, in their first season in the Premier League, when they lost 1-0. The Trotters have lost their last two encounters with the Reds shipping seven goals. Liverpool have won just once in their last six league away games and have scored just one goal in their last four away trips.

Everton v Portsmouth

Everton have lost just one game in the last eight at Goodison Park, against leaders Arsenal. The match against the Gunners was also the only league home game in the last six where Everton have conceded. This fixture at Goodison Park has never ended as a draw in the Premier League era and Portsmouth have not drawn an away game since the opening match of the season at Derby.