EPL Preview: Arsenal and Spurs to show title credentials

Who can be the big winners, who could be the biggest losers, and what are the key sub-plots ahead of a tantilising weekend of Premier League football?

Are Arsenal the real deal this season?

It feels like a small case of deja vu as we seem to be asking this question just about every year at this time, but there seems something different about Arsenal this time around.

Or, is it the same old Arsenal, but the standard of the rest at the top of the Premier League has just dipped a little and it’s that which is making Arsene Wenger’s men look stronger than usual?

If it’s the latter, then there is no better illustration of it than Chelsea. The reigning champions look a shadow of their former selves and could arrive at the Emirates just a point above the relegation zone if earlier results go against them.

Chelsea have improved slightly under Guus Hiddink, but the authority, or lack of, with which Arsenal greet their London neighbours will probably tell us an awful lot about their true title credentials.

Tottenham’s time to step up?

Speaking of clubs who appear to have shed the various stigmas attached to their old selves this season, there is something enthrallingly efficient about Tottenham these days.

There seems little needless drama or unpredictability to them, which are certainly things you’d say have held the club back in the past. They just seem to churn out performances and positive results with the minimum of fuss right now.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men are currently fourth in the table, but the top three face tough tests this weekend. As well as Arsenal coming up against Chelsea, travel-sick Manchester City go to West Ham and stuttering Leicester host a very good Stoke side.

Should those above them falter, a win for Spurs away at Crystal Palace would surely put them right in the title hunt.

How ruthless can West Brom be?

West Brom boss Tony Pulis will probably tell you he hasn’t stopped looking over his shoulder towards the relegation battle all season, and he won’t be until his side have reached the magic 40 point mark.

However, the Baggies meet Midlands rivals Aston Villa at The Hawthorns this weekend and a win would put them on 30 points with 15 games still to play, which would surely all but end any lingering concerns they may have about getting dragged into the scrap at the bottom.

By contrast, defeat for Villa would leave them requiring to produce genuine top six form for the remainder of the campaign just to give themselves a chance of beating the drop this season.

West Brom find themselves is a position to deal a decisive blow to their rivals whilst doing themselves no end of favours. Question is: are they ruthless enough to do it?