LONDON (Reuters) - Things might well get a lot worse before they get any better for relegation-threatened Aston Villa and Hull City who face title-chasing Chelsea and Manchester City in the Premier League on Saturday.
Villa, who host leaders Chelsea, were accused of being “gutless” by former Villa striker Stan Collymore when they were beaten 5-0 at Arsenal on Sunday, an unwanted club record sixth successive league game without a goal.
They have only scored 11 times in the league all season, and after being second in September are now 16th, three points above the relegation zone and in danger of going down for the first time in 27 years.
Manager Paul Lambert was given the full support of American owner Randy Lerner last week, but an unlikely win over Chelsea would do more to help get the fans off his back.
Similarly, a shock victory over City would be a huge boost for Hull boss Steve Bruce, whose team are in an even worse position than Villa -- in the bottom three with two wins in 16 games and no goals or points from their last three.
They were crushed 3-0 by Newcastle United on Saturday and unless they improve soon, their second season back in the top flight could well be their last for a while.
It would be a major upset if the top two did not collect three points each after sharing the spoils in a drab 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday that left Chelsea, on 53 points, five clear of City.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho added Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado to his squad for 26 million pounds ($39.6 million) from Fiorentina on transfer deadline day and he could feature on Saturday.
City’s major new acquisition, striker Wilfried Bony, is on African Nations Cup duty with Ivory Coast but even without him City look too strong for a fragile Hull side seemingly bound for the drop.
Saturday’s programme gets underway at lunchtime when Tottenham Hotspur, who are sixth, face arch-rivals Arsenal, who are one place and two points above them in the north London derby at White Hart Lane.
Everton host Liverpool in the Merseyside derby with the visitors seeking a fourth successive league win to keep in the hunt for a Champions League spot after battling into the FA Cup fifth round with a last-gasp 2-1 win at second tier Bolton Wanderers.
Everton need a win to distance themselves from the battle at the bottom.
Third-placed Manchester United on Sunday visit West Ham United where Wayne Rooney scored one of the goals of the season from the halfway line last March.
Editing by Martyn Herman