With just seven games remaining of the Premier League season, there is still everything to play for. This weekend sees several important games at both ends of the table which will go some way to answering these five questions.
Will Chelsea lift their Loftus Road hoodoo?
Leaders Chelsea should have the title wrapped up by now, however their recent performances have been all but impressive. Added to that is the fact they have only won at Loftus Road once in their last 13 visits to West London. With Matic and Fabregas walking a disciplinary tightrope, and Diego Costa out injured, this could be yet another tough afternoon for Chelsea. QPR have scored seven goals in their past two games with Matt Phillips becoming instrumental in the R’s push for survival. If Chelsea can overcome this hurdle, the title is almost guaranteed, but if they slip up then they could give Arsenal a chance to catch up.
Can Arsenal maintain their title challenge?
For 75 minutes of their match against Liverpool, Arsenal played like champions. This weekend they face Burnley at Turf Moor in a test of their title credentials. In normal circumstances you would assume the title race is all but over, but with Chelsea stuttering recently and with such an unpredictable season already, the Gunners know that nothing except a win will do. Burnley will be a tough test, recently drawing with Chelsea and Tottenham, and beating Manchester City, and it will be a test of this Arsenal team’s mental toughness to see whether they can challenge at the top of the table.
Who will be relegated?
Okay, so this question can’t be answered this weekend, but the game at the Hawthorns could go a long way to answering it. If Leicester lose, then they risk being cut adrift at the bottom of the table. West Brom have conceded seven goals in their last two games and could be in danger of being dragged back in to the scrap if they lose. Leicester’s late win at West Ham saw them gain ground on their rivals, whilst West Brom were on the end of a surprise thumping at home to QPR. QPR, Burnley and Hull all unlikely to pick up maximum points in their games, and Sunderland and Villa have tough games, so three points for any of the bottom seven will be welcome in the fight against the drop.
Will the Manchester derby be the final nail in Pellegrini’s coffin?
Sunday sees a stuttering Manchester City visit their in-form rivals United, with the pressure building on boss Manuel Pellegrini. City have lost three out of their last five, and plenty of their stars are out of form. Sergio Aguero hasn’t scored in over 500 minutes and Yaya Toure has failed to reach the heights of last season. Louis van Gaal, on the other hand, appears to have stumbled across a team that fits, with injuries to Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao allowing Wayne Rooney to flourish up front with Marouane Fellaini finding his Everton form in midfield. After winning the title last year, Tuesday’s defeat to Palace has left the Champions in fourth, below their rivals for the first time in 18 months. Rumours about Pellegrini’s future refuse to go away, and however much his players have let him down this season, a defeat at Old Trafford could be the final nail in his coffin.
Who will finish fifth?
With just one point separating Liverpool in fifth and Southampton in seventh, the battle for fifth is hotting up. Liverpool have lost the momentum with two losses in a row, all but ending their hopes for a top four finish. This week they face Newcastle on Monday night, which on form is a guaranteed three points. Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel are back from suspension, which will good news for Brendan Rodgers who may want to shake the team up to get back to the form of the last couple of months. Spurs have laboured to getting results in recent weeks, edging past Leicester and QPR whilst drawing with Burnley. Aston Villa visit White Hart Lane, led by former Spurs boss Tim Sherwood. Villa could be a tough test for Tottenham, with Christian Benteke being the highest scorer in the Premier League since Sherwood’s appointment. Southampton, despite playing well, have struggled to score goals recently, as highlighted by their defeat at Everton last week. The host a hapless Hull side who could conceivably not pick up a single point for the rest of the season. Sadio Mane could return for the Saints in order to give Graziano Pelle the support he needs for Saints to find the net.