Chelsea F.C.'s advantage at the top of the English Premier League has been skewed in recent weeks by playing more game than its three title rivals.
After the upcoming set of midweek matches, the top-four picture will be much clearer.
Liverpool F.C., Manchester City F.C. and Arsenal F.C. play games-in-hand on Tuesday and Wednesday, seeking wins that will tighten up an already exciting title race.
City has the toughest task as it heads for a derby at Manchester United, which is out of title contention but desperate to dent the championship hopes of its fierce rival. Liverpool can move a point behind Chelsea by beating Sunderland at home, while fourth-place Arsenal - seven points off first place and looking the most vulnerable of the title contenders - hosts Swansea.
Here are five things to know about the midweek matches in the Premier League:
TESTING TIMES FOR CITY
Manchester City F.C. better have enjoyed the 5-0 romp against last-place Fulham on Saturday - it's the easiest game it'll have in some time.
The Manchester derby marks the start of a pivotal four-match, 20-day period for City that will see its title credentials severely tested by trips to Old Trafford, Emirates Stadium and Anfield.
Come through those games unscathed and the road to a second Premier League trophy in three years will be clear.
Chelsea has a six-point cushion over City having played three more games, and will look at the schedule of its main title rival and be happy to have points on the board.
''It is not just the United game,'' City defender Pablo Zabaleta said. ''We need to win all of them.''
City has won on its last two visits to United - a 6-1 thrashing in October 2011 and a 2-1 victory last April that briefly delayed its neighbor securing the title.
Wayne Rooney may have to shoulder United's attacking burden for the rest of the season following a knee injury to strike partner Robin van Persie that has ruled him out for up to six weeks.
The England international looks up to the task.
Rooney's two goals in Saturday's 2-0 win at West Ham - which included a memorable strike from almost 60 meters that looks to have sewn up the goal-of-the-season award - means he has scored in three of his last four league matches and has 17 goals this season for club