These four teams will struggle over the festive period

Stoke Britannia Stadium

The Christmas period is a busy one for football, and teams will be looking to pick up as many points as possible to build for the rest of the season. But four teams may find the busy schedule too difficult to manage - Cardiff City, Liverpool, Stoke City and Swansea.

With games on Boxing Day, the weekend of the 28th and 29th of December, and then New Year's Day, Premier League managers will be looking to build momentum as they head into 2014.

Here are four teams who we believe will struggle over the festive period:

Cardiff City – Southampton (H), Sunderland (H), Arsenal (A)

The chaos surrounding Malky Mackay's position as manager has calmed down with Vincent Tan insistent that the Scot is now the manager “for the foreseeable future”. There is still a level of animosity from the fans towards the Malaysian owner, and there is a danger of that atmosphere polluting the club over the Christmas period. After a 3-1 loss to Liverpool, Cardiff have another tough game against Southampton, and whilst they will hope to pick up three points against strugglers Sunderland, their first game of 2014 sees them travel to the Emirates Stadium in what will be a daunting challenge. Cardiff fans will be hoping for positive results on and off the field in the coming week.

Liverpool – Manchester City (A), Chelsea (A), Hull City (H)

The current leaders of the Premier League face the toughest period of the season with trips to fellow title contenders Manchester City and Chelsea. City have been irresistible at home under Manuel Pellegrini, whilst Jose Mourinho's Chelsea continue to grind out results without really hitting top gear. Brendan Rodgers will need Luis Suarez to continue his red hot form over the festive period, as successive defeats to their title rivals could put pressure on the Reds to see off a Hull City side who have surprised so far this season.

Stoke City – Newcastle United (A), Tottenham Hotspur (A), Everton (H)

Mark Hughes' side are coming off a 2-1 victory over Aston Villa, but now travel up to Newcastle United, who are in great form of late. The Magpies have lost just one of their last six games, whilst Stoke's away form has seen them earn just two points from a possible 18. They follow that trip up with a journey down to Tottenham, who are still in a state of flux after the departure of Andre Villas-Boas, but the home faithful will get behind fan favourite Tim Sherwood, who is in interim charge. When they finally get back to the Britannia Stadium, they face a tough game against Roberto Martinez's Everton, who have been outstanding this season. It's plausible that the Potters will finish the Christmas period with no points from three games.

Swansea City – Chelsea (A), Aston Villa (A), Manchester City (H)

Michael Laudrup's side have had some issues coping with commitments in the Europa League and Premier League, and face a tricky week. The trip to Chelsea is a tough one with Mourinho's side edging out teams this season, whilst Aston Villa will be looking to pick up points that will drag them away from immediate danger. The final game of this stretch is a home game against Manchester City, and whilst Manuel Pellegrini's side have had their struggles on the road this season, their potent attack could get Swansea's 2014 off to a miserable start.

images: © Freer-ers, © Ben Sutherland

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