Pearson Previews: United’s weekend

Old Trafford

The weekend’s fixture list sees Man United travel to face reigning champions Leicester City. The same fixture last season brought a 1-1 draw, a result which would not suit either team during this campaign. Leicester sit perilously close to the drop zone and are in desperate need of some points. United on the other hand, need to keep pace with those above them. With the top six in the league moving clear of the rest, the Red Devils ambitions must be to move higher. Unbeaten since October, United are the leagues inform team, but too many draws of late has seen them unable to improve on their position. A 4PM kick off on Sunday will mean that everyone will have played already, and could provide a good opportunity to close the gap to the top four.

Saturday’s early kick off sees Arsenal travel to table topping Chelsea. Both teams will be looking to return to form after dropping points in mid week. Earlier in the season it was Arsenal who won their home encounter 3-0. This was however the last game of Chelsea’s poor run of form and they have since only dropped points in 2 of the last 16 games. Arsenal sit only five points ahead of United in third place, a defeat for the Gunners could see them lose sight on the title and fall into the chasing pack.

Second place Tottenham welcome Middlesbrough to White Hart Lane on Saturday. Nothing less than a win is needed for Spurs if they are to keep any aspirations on taking the league title for themselves. Middlesbrough however boasts one of the leagues tightest defences at the moment and could prove difficult to break down.

Liverpool and Manchester City both have matches against sides in the bottom four. The two are currently separated by goal difference in the fight for the final Champions League place. Liverpool will visit Hull City, whom will likely look to put in a similar defensive performance as they did at Old Trafford in mid-week. Man City are at home to a resurgent Swansea City, both teams looking to build on recent wins.

Everton missed the chance to move closer to the top six but could only match United’s result during their Wednesday night draw away at Stoke. The blue half of Merseyside have been in good form since Christmas and will face Bournemouth on Saturday. They will want to avoid any slip ups here to keep the pressure on the teams above them.

Elsewhere there is a battle for survival at Selhurst Park when Crystal Palace will host Sunderland. Both sides had good results in the midweek fixtures but neither could move out of the bottom three. With Swansea having the more difficult game this weekend, a win for either team could give them a much needed boost.

The remaining three games is very much a mid-table affair with the sides from 8th to 13th all facing each other. Stoke travel to West Brom aiming to not lose any ground on the team four points above them in the league. Watford are hosting Burnley who have one of the worst away records in the league. Finally, Southampton are at home to West Ham, both teams looking to return to form after mid-week defeats. Surely a draw in any of these games would feature last on Match of the Day.

Providing United can pick up all three points on Sunday they will keep within touching distance of the teams above them. A win will be important to keep up momentum ahead of next week’s game at home to Watford and the Cup Final the following week. In Game Week 26, United have no fixture and so getting points on the board now will be a big help ahead of a time when fixture congestion could be an issue.