Pearson’s Premier League Preview

Manchester United host Swansea on Sunday lunch time, a win putting them briefly inside the top four. With just two points separating themselves in 5th and Liverpool in 3rd it will be an interesting few days in the race for Champions League qualification. United are unbeaten in 24 league games but face away trips to Arsenal and Spurs in the next two games. Swansea are still two points from safety but are running out of games in which to close the gap to Hull. One win in seven has kept them in the bottom three but with two home games left, they still have opportunities to turn it around.

This weekend sees possibly Chelsea’s final big test in the run in towards the title. If they can overcome Everton away you wonder where else they will drop enough points to leave the door open. Having won only half of their last eight away games there is a chance of the league leaders dropping points, especially given that they have not kept a clean sheet in their last 11 games. Everton have won their last 11 home games and could still challenge the top six, starting this weekend.

Arsenal will be looking to end Spurs’ winning run on Sunday as the two meet in the North London derby. Tottenham have won their last eight games in the Premier League and could move closer to the top if Chelsea drop points. They have kept five clean sheets over that winning run and with only one win in their last five on the road this will be a difficult game for Arsenal. A win for Arsenal though would see them move closer to the top four, especially with an extra game in hand.

Liverpool are last to play this week as they face a Monday night trip to Watford. Four wins in their final four games may not be enough for Liverpool to finish inside the top four, however, they do have the kinder run in. If they are to keep up their hopes of Champions League football next season they need to return to winning ways here. Watford are 10th and have won their last three home games without conceding. A win would help them maintain a challenge for a top half finish.

Manchester City travel to Middlesbrough on Sunday aiming to keep pace with those around them. The midweek draw with United leaves them a point behind Liverpool and they could go into third ahead of their rivals game on Monday. City have won only two of their last seven games in the league and more dropped points here would leave them with a lot to do. Middlesbrough’s midweek win leaves them five points from safety so an unlikely win here could close the gap to Hull further. That win was their only one in the last 17 games though and they are quickly running short of time to turn their form around.

West Brom will look to put end to a poor run as they host Leicester City on Saturday. Following a four-game winless run in which they have failed to score in each, West Brom now look as though they could lose the 8th place they have held for most of the season. They are four points ahead of the mid-table battle below, but unless their form changes they could find themselves finishing outside of the top half. Leicester are on their own slump and have failed to win their last three. That run has seen them fall away from the top half but a win here could see them go as high as 9th.

Southampton go into their home match with Hull in 9th place. They have won only six home games all season but face a Hull side which has not won away since the early stages of the campaign. Hull have a two point gap over Swansea but this is mainly down to their home form. With only two of their last four games at home, they may need to pick up points away to be sure of safety.

The majority of Stokes points this season have come against sides below them and this weekend is another chance to further that fact. They face West Ham at home and three points should see them move back into the top half as they are only a point behind those above. Just five points separate Stoke and a record 8th place finish but it may already be too late to close the gap. West Ham have picked up enough points of late to end any mild fears of relegation. They are unbeaten in three games but face a difficult run after this. Home games against Spurs and Liverpool next and then away to Burnley on the final day could make it difficult to improve on their points tally. A win away to Stoke this weekend will see them move above the side from the Potteries.

The Saturday evening kick-off is Crystal Palace at home to Burnley. Palace’s recent run has moved them far above any danger and they are now on the brink of a top half finish. Burnley are a difficult side to beat at times but they may not improve on their four points on the road so far this season. Sitting just five points above the bottom three Burnley may find themselves needing to win more games or could be dragged into a relegation battle.

Bournemouth travel to Sunderland on Saturday in what could be the game which relegates the North East side. Currently sitting 12 points behind Hull, failure to win in this game would leave them relegated if Hull win their game. Some hope for the leagues bottom side is that Bournemouth have not won in their last seven away games. Sunderland, however, are bottom for a reason and have not won since February, nine games ago.

United have good momentum at the moment and their unbeaten run has seen them come very close to a top four place. If they can continue this streak and beat Swansea then they could improve on their current position.