The games are running out for Tottenham Hotspur to catch Leicester City and Sunderland and Newcastle United to save themselves from relegation as the Premier League season approaches its climax.
CaughtOffside writer @JoeFish08 has gazed into his crystal ball to predict this weekend’s matches…
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Norwich City 0-1 Sunderland
A Norwich win could effectively seal Sunderland’s fate, opening up a seven-point gap between the two sides, but it does not quite feel as though the Black Cats are ready to give up like their local rivals are.
Sam Allardyce’s side held their own against Leicester for 65 minutes last weekend, while Norwich were disappointingly beaten by Crystal Palace. This could be cagey affair with one goal settling things.
Everton 1-2 Southampton
There could be an uneasy atmosphere inside Goodison Park as pressure begins to surround Roberto Martinez, and Everton find themselves in a position where they have nothing to play for in the league.
Some Everton eyes could also be on next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final, and Southampton have been in too good a form not to punish any lack of focus in the Toffees, particularly from an attacking perspective.
Manchester United 4-0 Aston Villa
The Red Devils booked their Wembley date with Everton by beating West Ham United on Wednesday and will still be hopeful that they can finish the season FA Cup winners, and in the Champions League.
There is no hope for Villa, highlighted by last weekend’s home defeat to Bournemouth. They will be relegated on Saturday, and Old Trafford might see a rare goal glut if United get the first one early.
Newcastle United 1-1 Swansea City
It seems difficult to see where Newcastle’s next win is coming from. They are defending abysmally and do not have the firepower to consistently outscore teams. Things are looking bleak for the Magpies.
Six defeats out of seven, including three under Rafael Benitez, have left Newcastle with a lot of catching up to do. Swansea have won four out of their last six games to move clear of relegation trouble, but they are not the most prolific of goalscorers, and therefore Newcastle might limp their way to a point.
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Watford
Watford are safe from relegation – an achievement at this stage of the season – and are suffering from somewhat of an end-of-season slump, with no wins and two goals from their last six outings.
Quique Sanchez Flores would be forgiven for giving some of his players, perhaps tiring slightly, a well-deserved rest ahead of their FA Cup semi-final, and that could play into West Brom’s hands at home.
Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City
In recent seasons this fixture could have been a title decider, but such is the bizarreness of this Premier League campaign that Chelsea v Manchester City is not one of the highlight encounters of the weekend.
City were excellent in midweek to progress to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time, but might be on the comedown, while Blues boss Guus Hiddink is experimenting with Chelsea’s patient brigade of young players. Expect this to be an even contest, but with neither side at their best.
Bournemouth 1-3 Liverpool
Liverpool do not seem likely to suffer the same potential comedown as City after their midweek heroics in Europe. That comeback against Borussia Dortmund should have everybody at Anfield on Cloud Nine.
After last week’s trip to Germany, the Reds put four past Stoke City, and already-safe Bournemouth might get similar treatment as Jurgen Klopp’s inspired boys aim to finish the campaign with a bang.
Leicester City 1-1 West Ham United
Champions League-chasing West Ham present arguably one of the toughest obstacles in Leicester’s title run-in. If the Foxes can knock off Slaven Bilic’s side, then they will surely have one hand on the trophy.
The Hammers have more attacking weapons than Leicester’s recent opponents and will surely end their clean-sheet streak at six, but Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez will come up with something at the other end.
Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace
It seems highly implausible that Arsenal can catch Leicester at the top of the table, but they have a friendly enough run of home games that they might be able to pip rivals Tottenham to second.
Crystal Palace might have picked up their first victory of 2016 against Norwich City last weekend, but they are winless in 12 games against the Gunners, who should stroll to a comfortable success here.
Stoke City 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs were not fazed when Leicester threw down the gauntlet last weekend, dispatching of Manchester United 3-0, but they will surely be even more motivated if the Foxes do drop points against West Ham.
Stoke are great to watch these days, but they are not as defensively sound as they once were, and Harry Kane and Tottenham will fancy their chances of nicking all three points at the Britannia Stadium.
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