Pearson Previews the Premier League as injury-hit United look to crank up the pressure on top four

Manchester United can maintain their 5th position with a victory at home to West Brom. Following three wins in four the side moved closer to the top four. With extra games to play on those around them, they could move higher towards the end of the season but need points now to keep pace. Following two straight defeats, West Brom turned it around last time out with a 3-1 home win against Arsenal. They are currently stranded in 8th place, seven points behind Everton but seven clear of Stoke below.

Leaders Chelsea host West Ham looking for their 13th home win of the season and fourth in a row. With just 10 games remaining and a 10 point gap, they are closing in on the title. With more difficult games to come however nothing is certain yet. They face a Crystal Palace side who have won their last three without conceding a goal. That run has seen them move clear of the relegation zone and they could go as high as 14th if they can cause an upset in this game.

Second place Tottenham face a difficult away trip to Burnley and will be aiming to pick up maximum points to keep pace with Chelsea. Three away games without a win has been hidden a little by their excellent home form as Spurs have won four of their last five overall. Burnley have been strong at home this year with only three teams leaving Turf Moor with maximum points. It was a narrow 2-1 win to Spurs when the teams met in December and a repeat could see Spurs cement a claim for 2nd. Burnley could drop to 15th following a defeat and they do not yet have enough points to be sure of Premier League football next season.

Liverpool face Everton this weekend and victory could see them go level on points with Tottenham in 2nd. A draw could be enough to move them to third, but having played more games than the sides around them Liverpool need to pick up the maximum points available. The side have not lost at home since January and remain unbeaten against the top seven sides in the league. Everton could move up to 5th with a win and have four victories in their last six. They have won only once away from home since 2017 began, however.

Arsenal host 3rd place Manchester City on Sunday and are in need of a turn in fortunes to get their season back on track. Following four league defeats in the last five, Arsenal have slipped out of the top four. The Gunners have been better at home in the league this season having lost just once since September. The teams immediately above have favourable games but a win would help Arsenal close in on City with plenty of games left before the end of the season. Man City will remain in the top four no matter what the result but could go up to 2nd with a win.

Stoke travel to Leicester City looking to protect their 9th place in the table. They currently have a three point gap over those below but face a Leicester side with three wins from three. They have returned to their championship winning form recently and moved clear of relegation trouble. Like so many teams in the bottom half though their safety is far from certain.

Southampton go into their home game with Bournemouth this weekend on the back of three straight away games. They won two of those three games with only a narrow defeat to Tottenham last time out. Bournemouth sit 11th, one place below their hosts in the league table and can move above them with a win. The Cherries are on a good run of form with two wins in a row but have picked up just one point away since 2017 began.

West Ham travel to Hull on Saturday in search of their first win since the start of February. They have picked up just two points in the last five games and suffered three narrow defeats in a row. The Hammers fell to 12th in the league last week but it is close in mid-table and a win over Hull could fire them towards the top half. Hull are still in the relegation zone but have not lost at home since Boxing Day. If they are to survive this season their home form will be crucial.

Watford face bottom side Sunderland at Vicarage Road looking for a win which would all but seal their Premier League status for another season. After sliding down the league earlier in the season they picked up eight points from four games at the end of January and into February to move clear of the drop. Three defeats from their last four, however, have seen the Hornets drop to 14th and they are not safe yet. Sunderland, however, are quickly running out of time to turn around their poor form. They are bottom of the league and seven points from safety following four games without a win.

The final game of the weekend is a real six-pointer at the bottom of the league as Middlesbrough travel to Swansea on Sunday. They are in 18th in the league and five points from moving out of the drop zone. Middlesbrough have scored just once this year and have not won a game in their last 11 tries. Swansea had begun to show signs of form and moved clear of relegation but two defeats in a row leaves them just three points above Hull.

Man United have two games in hand over 4th place Liverpool and sit four points behind. If they can win these two games and match Liverpool’s results until the end of the season then they have a shot at Champions League qualification.