As the rest of the Premier League returns from the winter break to complete this lengthy round of games, here is everything you need to know about the action this weekend.
THE MAIN QUESTIONS OF THE WEEKEND
Does Arsenal need a win to show it is progressing?
You can see what Mikel Arteta is trying to do. There are models, ways in which Arsenal moves the ball, methods of creating space through intelligent racing and positioning, small explosions of verve and spark that did not exist before.
The problem is that Arteta is in charge of seven league games and has won only one. The last time, they were particularly lucky to get away with a 0-0 draw at Burnley, the Clarets missing a series of clear chances and sometimes Arsenal hung on. At times, they seemed dominant themselves, but that's their problem: they produce moments of excellence but fail to chain them enough to achieve a victory.
At this point, Arsenal is essentially a theory and no practice. Conceptually, things are progressing, but in reality - in terms of cold, hard results - they don't do much better than when Unai Emery was in charge. Arsenal, 10th and still with an outside chance to qualify for Europe through the league, have won the same number of games as the unfortunate West Ham.
"At the moment we are far from it but there are a lot of games to play," said Arteta this week, regarding the prospects of sneaking into the top four. “It's very tight. Everyone gives points. It will depend on us. If we are able to achieve three or four consecutive victories, we will be much closer. "
Their match against Newcastle on Sunday could be the time to try something slightly different and leave Mesut Ozil out of the team. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is essential on the left, Gabriel Martinelli could be threatening from the right, but Ozil is simply not doing enough to justify his position in the center: Nicolas Pepe would add more dynamism and threat of goal from this position, behind Alexandre Lacazette.
A win would not only increase their low chances of qualifying for the Champions League. It would be a tangible expression of faith in Arteta's methods, which in turn would increase levels of self-confidence within the team. Footballers are usually focused on results rather than process: if you win matches, they will usually do what a manager tells them. Arteta needs a little bit of that.
MAN TO WATCH
You wonder if Frank Lampard's decision to drop Kepa Arrizabalaga for Chelsea in the last game and replace him with Willy Caballero for 2-2 draw with Leicester was pretty much the form of the goalkeeper, or if it was more of a psychological trick.
Arrizabalaga, the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, has been out of shape all season and Lampard could be justified in his decision if it was just that, but you think it could also be an attempt to essentially make Arrizabalaga think to what it ended. The timing - a game before the winter break - might suggest that Lampard wanted Arrizabalaga to fix his mistakes. Either way, it's going to be fascinating to see how it goes.
THE GAME YOU ARE NOT PLANNING TO WATCH ... BUT SHOULD
Southampton vs. Burnley
It is a game that will be worth watching, if only to witness what happens when a few teams show faith and patience with their managers, because it is quite conceivable that both have been dismissed by other clubs at various times during the season.
Obviously, Southampton could have done without Ralph Hasenhuttl after their 9-0 humiliation against Leicester and the rotten form that surrounded him, but they stayed with him and now the Saints are seven points from the relegation zone. Burnley could also have decided that Sean Dyche's race had run, and that for all the good he had done to them, a change was necessary after a streak of seven losses in nine, which brought them closer to the last three. But the two men stayed and the two teams are booming: drastic action is not always the answer.
A TEAM THAT NEEDS A CHANCE
The city of Leicester
Leicester is at a standstill. Their brilliant race stuttered, they won one of the last four games in the league and were eliminated from the League Cup when they should have put their semi-final against Aston Villa in bed in the first leg, which ended 1-1. There could be a myriad of reasons for this, from cooling Jamie Vardyform and his injuries, to a few key men playing badly at the same time, to simply return to the level of results they could reasonably hope to achieve.
But they still have good players. Brilliant players, in fact. They will at least be a challenge for a place in the Champions League, but with a small fortune against the Wolves on Friday night, they could take a big step to cement a place there.
A THING THAT WILL FINALLY HAPPEN
Goals, Goals, Goals in Norwich vs. Liverpool
Norwich and Liverpool have faced each other 17 times during the Premier League era, games which produced 68 goals, with a fairly clear average of four per game. For games that have been played 10 or more times, it is a record, and even though the majority of those goals have been scored by Liverpool (50, in fact), for some reason, this match is more or less a guaranteed goals. Will we have a repeat of madcap 5-4 the last time these two clashed at Carrow Road in 2016? You wouldn't rule it out.
Craig Burley says Jadon Sancho could take pressure from Sadio Mane and Mo Salah if he joined Liverpool.
Information provided by ESPN Stats & Information Group
With 13 PL matches to play, Liverpool need 18 points to clinch the club's first Premier League title and their first high-flying title since 1990; The first team to win the Premier League was 2000-01, when Manchester United won the title on April 14.
The 73 points Liverpool have amassed after 25 games (24-0-1 WLD) is the highest number ever recorded by a team after 25 games in the history of the five major European leagues (assuming three points for victory), breaking a 71-point record set by Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola in 2013-14.
Sadio Mane could return after missing the last four games due to a thigh injury. The Senegalese striker has scored 99 goals in all English football competitions.
Danny Ings has scored 17 goals in all competitions for Southampton this season. The last Saints player to score the most in a high-flying campaign was James Beattie, with 24 in 2002-03.
Wolves 2-1 Leicester
Southampton 1-0 Burnley
Norwich 1-4 Liverpool
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham
Arsenal 3-1 Newcastle
Chelsea 3-2 Manchester United
This article appeared first (in English) on http://espn.com/soccer/english-premier-league/story/4052434/premier-league-preview-arsenal-need-to-start-turning-promise-under-arteta-into-wins