There are – depending on which teams you're looking at – three or four matches remaining in the Premier League season. Unfortunately, many of those fixtures carry little meaning, with the top four race already as good as decided.
The relegation battle is as intense as ever, however. The great escape is still possible for a couple of sides (no, not West Brom) and a few teams could be peering over their shoulders right until the final whistle of the season.
This weekend has a few huge matches around the country, so here’s a thought or two on the upcoming action…
Burnley vs BRIGHTON & HOVE ALBION
Burnley’s disappointing draw at Stoke last weekend dampened their hopes of a top six finish. The Clarets are only four points off Arsenal, however, and victory here would put them right behind the Gunners, who don’t play until Sunday due to their Europa League commitments.
Brighton, on the other hand, have suffered amidst a tough run of fixtures. Two points from five matches have Chris Hughton’s side just short of safety, but only really need a point (they’re already on 36) to be safe this season you would expect.
I think Brighton will finally get the result they need to nudge them over the line here. Their away record is not great, but that is as much down to misfortune as poor performance.
TIP: Brighton to win OR draw @ 4/6
CRYSTAL PALACE vs Leicester City
Roy Hodgson’s Palace have taken eight points from five matches. Safety is still not guaranteed, however, with only 35 points on the board. The Eagles have played good enough football to be safe (registering in the top half on expected points all season) and are delivering on that promise.
Leicester have slumped a little over the last month or two. Claude Puel has undoubtedly improved the Foxes but sitting in that going nowhere midriff of the table makes these spring months tough.
I have stood by this Palace side all season. Form suggests I should do the same this week. Hodgson has done a superb job, and another Premier League campaign looks almost certain now.
TIP: Crystal Palace to win OR draw @ 2/7
Huddersfield Town vs EVERTON
Remember those teams who are peering over their shoulders? Well, that’s Huddersfield. Even after an invaluable win last time out, the Terriers still are sat on 35 points and could be dragged back into the bottom three. With three fixtures against the top six after this, this looks as good as must-win.
Everton are in a bubble of irrelevance. The Toffees are eighth with no hope of going any higher and could easily end up finishing tenth. That sort of placing was probably satisfactory at the beginning of the season, but this has still been a season of disappointment.
Sam Allardyce’s side have been a bit less rubbish away from home lately. I was surprised to see them as long as 21/10 to win.
TIP: Everton to win @ 21/10
NEWCASTLE UNITED vs West Bromwich Albion
Just a few weeks ago, this match looked like it could be a real relegation showdown in the northeast. West Brom have continued their demise towards the Championship since then, while Newcastle have put together a special run to put themselves in a top half spot.
The Magpies have won their last four at home. Their form on Tyneside was always going to be pivotal to their campaign, and after a bit of misfortune earlier in the campaign, this is a well-deserved good streak.
What has been a frustrating too-little-too-late return to form for the Baggies gives them a chance here. It is little more than that, though, and I expect the hosts to notch another three points to add gloss to an already impressive 2018.
TIP: Newcastle to win @ 4/5
SOUTHAMPTON vs AFC Bournemouth
Southampton are one of those teams hunting for a great escape. Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea was disappointing, but these remaining league fixtures are what really matters for Mark Hughes’ side. Things could easily have been better since Hughes was appointed, and the Saints’ fans will no doubt be delighted to see the team actually creating chances.
Bournemouth pulled to safety a few weeks ago and have seemed to relax a little since then. Another successful season for Eddie Howe could look even better if they can snatch a top half finish.
This south coast derby will define Hughes’ firefighter role at Southampton. Anything other than victory and divine intervention will be required. I think they’ll just about do it, thanks to their revitalised attack.
TIP: Southampton to win @ 7/10
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*