Your comprehensive EPL preview with all of the weekend’s matches included.
NORWICH v SUNDERLAND
Norwich host Sunderland in Saturday’s early kick off (11.45 GMT) in what is possibly the most important game of the weekend.
A real six-pointer with both clubs fighting to avoid the drop into the Championship and consequent loss of Premier League status and riches from the new television deal suggests a nervous, tight affair at Carrow Road.
Just four points separate them at the foot of the table – and fourth from bottom Norwich’s -22 goal difference is only one worse than Sunderland’s -21.
Norwich’s last win came against Sunderland’s bitter north-east rivals Newcastle on April 2 and manager Alex Neil will be hopeful of a similar display of resilience and determination.
Sunderland have not won since they beat Manchester United 2-1 at the Stadium of Light and boss Sam Allardyce took to Twitter this week to laud the fantastic Black Cats fans for their support despite the results and position in the table, and said the trip to Carrow Road was a chance to reward them.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) April 12, 2016
EVERTON v SOUTHAMPTON
Everton face Southampton looking for their first win since a 3-1 victory over pitiful Aston Villa on March 1 – a run of results that has seen their slide down the table become accompanied with increasingly vociferous calls from the stands for the end of manager Roberto Martinez’s reign.
On Wednesday he saw his side reduced to ten men against Crystal Palace but was delighted with the battling display of his players who held out for a 0-0 draw.
“It was a more than decent result. The resilience and hard work, and to be able to be so solid, was great,” said the Toffees boss afterwards.”We had as many chances. [Palace keeper] Joel Robles had to be at his best but it was a level game. To play like that with 10 men, it was incredibly satisfying.”
Southampton will be a tougher test for Everton than that posed by Palace and their boss Ronald Koeman will be seeking revenge for the 1-0 defeat in last season’s corresponding fixture.
With three wins from their last four games – the only defeat coming at the hands of Leicester – Southampton are on the verge of securing Europa League football having amassed 50 points so far – ten more than Everton have managed.
MANCHESTER UTD v ASTON VILLA
Manchester United take on Villa fresh from their midweek FA Cup triumph at West Ham and teenage sensation Marcus Rashford will be looking to add to his record breaking tally for the club since breaking into the first team.
The 18-year-old has hit six in his first 11 games for the Red Devils – no other player from the legion of United legends has ever previously managed more than three.
His emergence and potency has helped alleviate some of the pressure on boss Louis van Gaal and the visit of manager-less Villa to Old Trafford should mean three points for Man Utd to keep on track their quest for a top four finish.
Villa have been woeful with just 16 points from 33 games but such is football – particularly that played in the EPL this season – that anything is possible and a shock may be on the cards.
Caretaker manager Eric Black suggests so on Twitter – click to see what the hottest online football tipsters think.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) April 14, 2016
NEWCASTLE v SWANSEA
Newcastle are in a perilous position – second bottom, seven points from safety, without a win since February 6 and only a single point taken from their last six games.
Rafa Benitez has so far failed to instil the resilience and effort required to survive in the EPL and is yet to record a win in charge of the club.
His counterpart Francesco Guidolin at Swansea has enjoyed far more success since taking over following Gary Monk’s dismissal and has helped the club to the magic 40 points mark – achieved last week with the 1-0 win over Chelsea.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION v WATFORD
West Bromwich Albion will be looking to extend Watford’s poor recent run of form and revive their own season following a disappointing few weeks for Tony Pulis’s men.
West Brom last won on March 6 – a 1-0 win against Man Utd – while Watford have endured an even longer spell since recording three points – their 2-1 win away at Crystal Palace being way back on February 13.
Watford manager Enrique Sanchez Flores won many plaudits earlier in the season for his side’s tenacity and style of play but it seems his team may have been distracted by their forthcoming FA Cup semi final rather than concentrating on the league.
CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY
Chelsea against Manchester City could have been a title decider when the fixtures were drawn but such has been the inconsistency of City and abjectness of champions Chelsea that this match only really has any importance for Manuel Pelligrini’s men.
Bolstered by their midweek Champions League win over PSG, City have the chance to preserve their four point cushion over Man Utd in the race for fourth place and victory over the Londoners could lift them to third if Arsenal are beat by Crystal Palace.
The champions lost for the first time under caretaker manager Guus Hiddink last week at Swansea and have little other than pride left to play for this season.
BOURNEMOUTH v LIVERPOOL
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has confounded many pundits this season and with four wins in the last six games has secured the club’s EPL status for another year.
Liverpool’s focus this week has been on Thursday night’s Europa League clash with Borussia Dortmund and the game against Bournemouth on Sunday could hinge massively on the outcome against the Germans.
Jurgen Klopp made seven changes to his side last week and saw his team demolish Stoke 4-1 with Divock Origi bagging a brace for the Reds.
What do the tipsters think? – Click here to find out.
LEICESTER v WEST HAM UTD
Leicester are on course for the most magical and romantic of seasons in the history of English football just 12 months after pulling off the most remarkable of great escapes to avoid relegation.
Their players achievements have been recognised with three named on the shortlist for PFA Player of the Year.
— PFA (@PFA) April 13, 2016
The Foxes fairytale season looks set to continue against a West Ham side who last won on March 5 against Everton.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic has watched his team’s challenge for a top four finish hit the buffers following three straight draws and tipsters will be wondering how much the disappointment of their midweek FA Cup defeat will affect their chances against everyone’s favourites for the title.
ARSENAL v CRYSTAL PALACE
Arsenal welcome Crystal Place to the Emirates on Sunday desperate for three points to close the gap on North London rivals Spurs in second place.
Arsene Wenger’s men surrendered their chance to claim the title for the first time in more than a decade long ago and once again a top four finish will be the only ‘trophy’ left for his side to claim.
Crystal Palace secured a point against Everton on Wednesday to take their season’s tally to 38 and probable safety but boss Alan Pardew will be looking for his side to regain their pre-Christmas form.
But with the pressure off Arsenal the Gunners are favourites to claim all three points and keep the pressure on Spurs for second place.
STOKE v TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Stoke got walloped at Anfield last week and face another tough test when Mauricio Pochettino takes his Spurs team to the Potteries for the EPL Monday night match (19.00 GMT).
A stuttering run of results featuring two wins, two draws, two defeats in their last six has seen Stoke preserve their place above Chelsea in ninth while Spurs will need the win to keep alive their hopes for the title.
Last week they put three past Man Utd and Pochettino will be looking for more of the same to keep the pressure on Leicester and take full advantage should the Foxes slip up.
Harry Kane has had another brilliant season and the England striker is a firm favourite to add to his goal scoring tally at Stoke on Monday – see here what the top soccer tipsters think.
By: Joe Cahal