Mark Young picks out five stand-out fixtures from the upcoming Premier League weekend and predicts a shake-up in the title race and Newcastle slipping further behind their Tyne-Wear rivals.
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West Ham vs. Arsenal
Arsenal travel to London rivals West Ham on Saturday lunchtime with faint hope of a late push for the Premier League title.
The Gunners bounced back from their recent slump with a 4-0 win at home to Watford last week, but face a tricky task against the Hammers to make that two in a row.
Slaven Bilic’s side were unlucky to draw at home to Crystal Palace last weekend, but can get their home form back on track with a victory against Arsenal and put pressure on the two Manchester clubs for that elusive fourth place in the league.
Dimitri Payet has shown superb form this season and his stunning free-kick enhanced his glowing reputation and he may be too good for the Gunners to stop.
West Ham 2-1 Arsenal
Southampton vs. Newcastle United
Newcastle United slumped to a loss at Norwich last week, leaving the dreaded drop closer than ever before.
Six points is the gap between the Magpies and the Canaries and another tricky contest awaits as a trip to the South Coast to face Southampton beckons.
Ronald Koeman’s side were unlucky to lose by a single goal at Leicester last weekend and felt they could and probably should have had two penalties.
Graziano Pelle has found form in front of goal and, with Fraser Forster between the sticks, the Saints look set to march on to another three points and push the Magpies closer to the Championship.
Southampton 3-1 Newcastle United
Crystal Palace vs. Norwich City
Norwich City prevailed in their relegation clash with Newcastle United last weekend, but now face another crunch survival match-up against Crystal Palace.
Alex Neil’s side were pegged back from a winning position only to show the grit and determination to beat one of their closest rivals, but Palace are a more solid outfit than Newcastle.
Alan Pardew’s side may have struggled for any kind of form in 2016, but a draw away at West Ham last week would have given his side a boost.
Despite Norwich’s superb victory last week it could be another slog and the Eagles will hope to finally get back to winning ways and ease their relegation fears.
Crystal Palace 1-0 Norwich City
Sunderland vs. Leicester City
It was a good weekend for Leicester City last week as they leapt to a seven point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Each week will bring a different challenge for the Foxes and this time around they go to survival scrapping Sunderland on Sunday lunchtime with the chance to put ten points between themselves and Tottenham.
The Black Cats have been solid if not spectacular under Sam Allardyce, but they will certainly be hoping to spring a surprise and snatch three points.
Jermain Defoe has previously promised to help Tottenham win the title, but while Sunderland may not have enough to topple Leicester completely, they could put a fork in the road.
Sunderland 1-1 Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Manchester United
Tottenham will know exactly what they need to do by the time they kick off on Sunday afternoon, but face a stubborn Manchester United side.
United beat Everton 1-0 last week, but despite the two best defences coming head-to-head on Sunday, that doesn’t mean there won’t be goals.
A Kyle Walker own-goal separated the two sides at Old Trafford on the opening weekend, but the tale of both these sides’ seasons could not have been more different.
The energetic Spurs could hit a couple past a pedestrian United if they play with enough intensity and if these predictions are correct then Leicester will be put under pressure once again.
Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Manchester United
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