Pearson’s Premier League Preview: How far off the pace will Arsenal be when they return on Wednesday?

Pearson Previews Arsenal

Arsenal’s FA Cup Semi-Final against Man City has caused their league match with Leicester to move to Wednesday. With their win over Middlesbrough last week being only their third in the last nine league games they need to return to form. Arsenal now find themselves seven points away from a top four finish and in need of a victory to get their league campaign back on track. Leicester, however, have failed to win their last two games following their previous run of five straight wins. They are now in the mid-table battle, three points behind a top half finish.

Due to Chelsea’s involvement in the FA Cup their only league game this week is on Tuesday at home to Southampton. After having their lead at the top cut to four points last week they will be looking to close out the title starting with this game. Southampton, however, have won three of their last four away games in the league, but all against sides lower in the table. They are 9th in the league at the moment and can only really finish one place higher than that this season. With West Brom above not playing this week they could move within a point of 8th with a win in this game.

Tottenham are also on FA Cup duty this weekend which sees their match away at Crystal Palace switch to Wednesday evening. The gap to leaders Chelsea was narrowed to four points following seven straight wins for Spurs. Over that time they have conceded just four goals but scored 22 and are the league’s inform side. This will be Palace’s second game of the week after they travel to Liverpool on Sunday.

Manchester United play twice in the league this week and two wins would see them break into the top four. On Sunday they make the short trip to Burnley looking for their third win in a row and to extend their unbeaten run. Burnley have won six of their last eight games at home, dropping points only to the top two. They sit 14th in the league, eight points above the bottom three places. Following that game United travel across Manchester to face rivals City in a game which could decide who finishes inside the top four. United are currently in 5th but only four points separate the two sides. Man City have won two games on the bounce, scoring three in both but have an FA Cup Semi Final this weekend before their midweek clash with United.

Liverpool have won five of their last seven games in the league and victory over Palace on Sunday will see them move within two points of Spurs above. It is perhaps the gap to the sides below which the side should monitor, however, given their slim advantage over 5th place. Liverpool are currently six points ahead of United but that advantage could be cut by the end of the week. Palace’s recent run of form has propelled them away from the bottom three and up to 15th in the table. They are now seven points clear of the drop and have wins over Arsenal and Chelsea in recent weeks.

Saturday sees West Ham host an Everton side which have failed to win any of their last five away league games. It is their home form which has seen Everton maintain pressure on the top six above. They can move back to 5th with a win in this game but would likely move back down once their rivals have played. West Ham have picked up four points from their last two games and have moved away from any relegation threat. They are now nine points above Swansea and can look towards a possible top half finish to the season.

Watford travel to Hull looking to preserve their place in the top half of the league. Three straight home wins has moved them into 10th, but they have not won away since the end of January. Despite their struggles in the league Hull have won four of their last five home games. If they are to survive the drop back to the Championship then they will need to continue that run this weekend. Two points separate Hull from a place back in the bottom three so they will be looking to extend their advantage.

Swansea have a home match against mid-table Stoke this week as they look to pick up points and climb out of the bottom three. They have lost five of their last six league games and scored just twice over that time. Last weekend saw Stoke get their first win in six attempts and end a poor run of form. They are now 11th place, just one point behind a top half position and could climb higher with a win in this game.

Middlesbrough have a real chance to save their season this weekend as they face two sides from the bottom six. At the weekend they travel to Bournemouth who have not won in their last four games. All four games were against sides from the top half however. They likely need one more win to be assured of safety and could get it this weekend. Middlesbrough, who haven’t won in 15 games, then face Sunderland at home on Wednesday. Sunderland themselves have not won in eight games and are nine points from safety. Last weekend saw them score a goal for the first time since early February and you would think time may soon run out for the league’s bottom side.

Following patchy form of late Arsenal have fallen behind in the race for a top-four finish. If they can beat Leicester during the week then they could close the gap to those above, especially with United and City playing each other. A win over City in the FA Cup could also give them good momentum and a psychological advantage over the side occupying the final Champions League spot