Arsenal prepare to play Stoke and Sunderland this week in their second double round of fixtures running. Following a poor run of form in recent months, Arsenal have now won four of their last five and are three points behind a top four place. Three wins from their remaining games may still not be enough to seal Champions League football next season but they need to increase the pressure on the sides above. They travel to Stoke on Saturday evening, a place where they have struggled in past seasons. At the moment though Stoke are a team in very poor form and are yet to beat a side that sit above them in the league. They have won just one of their last nine league games. After the trip to Stoke it is a mid-week game at home to relegated Sunderland. The leagues bottom side picked up their first win since February last time out but have little to play for until the end of the season now.
Chelsea kick off the weekend’s action with a Friday night trip to West Brom and a win will be enough to seal the title. They sit seven points clear at the top of the table and a win in this game will mean that chasing pack will have run out of games in which to catch them. Three wins in a row have helped keep the cap to second place Spurs. West Brom have picked up just one point in their last six games and are at risk of losing their 8th place they have held for a long time this season. If Chelsea’s win doesn’t come against West Brom then they have a second chance to lift the crown as they face Watford at home on Monday evening. Watford have won just once in five games but their away record is poor, they haven’t scored a goal in the last five trips away from Vicarage Road.
Tottenham’s first defeat in nine games last time out meant that it is almost impossible for them to improve on second place. By the time they face Man United on Sunday the title may have already gone to Chelsea. United are on a poor run at the moment and haven’t won in their last four. A defeat to Tottenham would all but end their hopes of a top four place. Both sides also have a second game in mid-week. Tottenham face a trip to Leicester on Thursday, where as United travel to Southampton on Wednesday.
Liverpool’s season is still in their hands and although how far up the league they finish may not be down to them, whether they get top four is. The simple fact is that if they win their remaining two games then they finish inside the top four. They are currently four points ahead of Arsenal in 5th but having played a game extra. Liverpool’s form of late has not been great however and just one win in three has seen them slip closer to sides below them. They face a trip to West Ham on Sunday who are fresh from all but ending Tottenham’s season last week. They sit on the brink of a top half position and a win in this game could move them into 10th.
Manchester City have the chance to move up to 3rd place this week as they also have two matches. It is two games at home for City, first against Leicester, who won the reverse fixture early this season, and then against West Brom. City are unbeaten in five games but only three of them were wins. A win in both games this week should be enough to secure a top four place ahead of Arsenal given their superior goal difference. Leicester have moved into 9th as of late and if they can move above West Brom into 8th it will be the highest they have been since winning the league last year. They have two chances to improve their league position, first against City and then Tottenham on Thursday.
Everton face Watford at home in the second Friday night game this week. Three games without a win or scoring a goal have ended their slim chances of a high league finish this season. They are now certain to finish in 7th place so with little to play for motivation may be lacking. They are however
playing a Watford side who have dropped to 15th since hitting 40 points and have lost their last three, scorning just once in five games.
Southampton are another side who need to make up an extra game this week. First up is a trip to relegated Middlesbrough where the Saints will be looking for their first goal in three games. Their last win was in early April and was enough to move them into the top half. They are now at risk of losing their place in the top 10 and failure to win this game or the mid-week game against Man United will likely see them fall down the league. Middlesbrough are unlikely to improve on their 19th place in the league but will be looking to end the season strong. They have picked up four points from their last three games and need a couple more results to avoid finishing bottom of the league.
Bournemouth have two games remaining in which to seal a top half finish for the first time in their recent history. A run of three games without losing has seen them maintain a high league position and a win in their home game against Burnley on Saturday could see them move into the top 10. Burnley sit 14th and given their goal difference advantage over Hull are all but safe. A win for the away side would mean they move above Bournemouth in the league with one home game remaining.
Sunday lunchtime could be the biggest game of the weekend as it is the survival shoot-out between Crystal Palace and Hull. A win for Palace will see them secure safety. They are currently four points, and a better goal difference, ahead of Hull but are on a poor run and three defeats in a row has kept them within reach of the bottom three. Having recently won some games against sides from the top of the league they have slipped up in their last few and are yet to confirm safety. Hull however had been picking up some points in recent weeks before they had a disastrous 0-2 loss at home to Sunderland last week. A defeat at Selhurst Park could all but confirm relegation, especially if Swansea win.
Swansea face a trip to Sunderland this week looking for a win to continue their survival bid. Three points in this game could be enough to see them stave off relegation, depending on results in other games. They have picked up seven points from their last three games, a run which has brought them back from the brink. If Sunderland fail to pick up a point from this game or the Arsenal one they will be confirmed as this season’s bottom side.
Given the recent form of the other side’s around them Arsenal fans can remain optimistic that someone will drop points. If Arsenal can beat Stoke on Saturday evening then it will leave them a point behind Liverpool and really put their rivals under pressure. It is a big week in the clubs season and wins in both games will give them something to fight for heading into the final game of the season.