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Premier League Preview

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A preview of all the upcoming Barclay’s Premier League encounters. With the top four all playing against each other, it’s safe to say this is the biggest weekend of the season thus far.

Saturday games:

Sunderland V Manchester united. 12:45, Stadium of Light.

The first match of the weekend will see the Black Cats welcome the Red Devils in what will be a must win for both teams. The hosts currently sit in 19th and are four points away from Newcastle just outside the relegation zone. Having failed to pick up a win in their last four, the hosts will be hoping their inspirational comeback last week at Anfield can fuel them on to take all three points.

For United, last week’s draw at Chelsea will feel like a loss. The way they defended so well throughout, only for Diego Costa to equalize in stoppage time was hard to swallow. They’re currently six points behind their noisy neighbours who sit in 4th and know nothing other than a win here will be helpful for their target of Champions Leagues football. The visitors have only picked up one win in their last five league encounters and will be hoping to get back to winning ways.

Bournemouth V Stoke City, 15:00, Vitality Stadium.

Bournemouth will fancy themselves in this one, for sure. Stoke have dipped in form of late and the Cherries have to target all three points to avoid getting pulled into the relegation scrap. The hosts sit in 15th and are five points clear of Norwich. Having only won one of their last four league matches, they know that now is the time to be keeping their points tallying ticking.

Stoke have been a different team in recent weeks. At the back of last year they were incredible and were beating the big boys on a regular basis. However, one point from their last five matches is just not good enough, and if this form continues to dip they could be nearing the relegation zone. They currently sit in 11th, but a win here and the teams around them losing could see them rise to 8th in the league, and finally rediscover that impressive form they had late last year.

Crystal Palace V Watford, 15:00, Selhurst Park.

Watford surely have to fancy themselves for this one. Palace are not playing with the free flowing spirit they were initially in the season and look vulnerable at the back. The hosts sit in 12th and know that they should be higher in the league with the impressive team that they have. They’ve only managed one point from their last five games and pressure is starting to build on Alan Pardew, a must win here.

Watford have been immense this year and thoroughly deserve their position in 10th place. They put up a Valliant effort last week when they visited the Lane and frustrated Tottenham all afternoon, despite losing by a narrow score line. They’ve dipped in form of late, being victorious only once in their last five. That won’t get this team down though, they’ve been fighting every game, all season. Palace should prepare for another tricky afternoon in the English top tier of football.

Everton V West Brom, 15:00, Goodison Park.

Both teams come into this game on the back of two totally different performances. Everton were outstanding, perhaps the best they’ve played all season when they were visitors at the Britannia last week. The Baggies just didn’t turn up for their away clash at Newcastle, Tony Pulis labelling it the worst performance he’s seen while being back there. If the hosts can replicate the form of last week then this should be an easy win for them, but their home record tells a different story. They currently sit in 8th and will be looking to leapfrog Southampton on the weekend.

The visitors are in 14th place and know that they’ll need to produce a string of decent results to avoid being dragged near the bottom three. They’ve not won in their last three league matches and will be looking to ease some fans nerves on the weekend.

Norwich City V West Ham, 15:00, Carrow Road.

After starting the season so well, Norwich are currently in the bottom three. They’ve not produced the best of performances since the New Year and it looks like they’ll be in for a tough fight to stay in the league. The Canaries have lost their last six league encounters and are wondering where the next win will come from.

Unfortunately for the hosts, this West Ham team has developed largely since the arrival of Slaven Bilic in the summer. They’ve been incredible and find themselves in 6th place, only two points off Manchester United. After dumping Liverpool out of the FA cup midweek it isn’t hard to imagine that they’ll be taking all that confidence into this one, and the hosts are going to have to wait patiently for their chance.

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Swansea City V Southampton, 15:00, The Liberty Stadium.

Swansea have been good of late, unbeaten in their last four league matches (W2 D2). The Welsh side are only four points clear from safety and will need to continue this good form for the rest of the season if they wish to stay in the league.

Southampton sit in 7th and have been in good form too. Their home win against the Hammers last week saw them close the gap between the two, two points currently separate the teams. The visitors are also unbeaten in their last four league matches (W3 D1) and will be looking to apply more pressure to the teams above them sitting in the European places.

Chelsea V Newcastle United, 17:30, Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea did well last week to get that late goal and pick up a good point. United were the better team and they’ll feel happy with the point they obtained. They’re incredibly still 13th in the league and European target surely has to be out of the question now. However, they have improved under Guus Hiddink and they have to beat their visitors Saturday.

Tough one for the Magpies, there’s no reason why they can’t go there and pick up maximum points, it will just be extremely difficult. If you look at recent games between these two it’s clear that Newcastle seem to be a bit of a bogey team for Chelsea and they will be aware of that. They moved out of the bottom three last week and will be hoping to stay out.

Sunday games:

Arsenal V Leicester City, 12:00, Emirates Stadium.

This is the big one of the weekend. If the Foxes win this it sets them up perfectly for the remaining of the season. Arsenal needed that win last week to get themselves back amongst the chasing pack and they played well. Petr Cech has been the difference between Arsenal almost winning the league and winning the league. If they do come out as champions this year, he has had a huge part to play. The Gunners currently sit five points behind their visitors and this is a key match in both teams’ season.

If Leicester taste victory yet again then they’ll go eight points clear of their rivals, potentially ruling them out of the title running. They’ll be full of confidence after such an impressive display they produced last week and will not go to the Emirates and sit back, they’ll be going for the win from the first whistle to the last, exciting to say the least.

Aston Villa V Liverpool, Villa Park, 14:05.

Villa picked up a valuable three points last week and it just about keeps Premier League survival a slim reality. Liverpool literally threw away a two goal lead last week and will be annoyed with themselves for not sealing the win. Villa are still eight points away from safety, but if they can keep producing results like last week then we might see a spirited come back.

Liverpool sit in 9th place and know that they should be higher with the quality they have throughout their team. A win here with results going their way could see them move up to 7th in the league, and give them a good advantage for the remaining league matches.

Manchester City V Tottenham Hotspur, Etihad Stadium, 16:15.

This one has goals written all over it. City always seem to beat Spurs by a convincing score line but this year Tottenham are a totally different team and will be targeting maximum points here. If they can pick up the three points and Leicester fail to pick any points up at the Emirates it puts them in an interesting position. City sit in 4th and are six points from the summit of the table, another home loss here could be their Premier League title challenge over.

Tottenham are five points behind Leicester and they’ll know they have to win these games to be crowned champions come May. Having won all six of their last matches (all competitions) they’ll be feeling more than confident that they can also go to the Etihad and produce a massive upset. It could be a case of whatever you can do I can do better for this impressive Spurs team.




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