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Leicester City

The Foxes had been enjoying a rather good campaign prior to lockdown but since the resumption have failed to win in four outings including a FA Cup defeat at home to Chelsea. They now find themselves in danger of slipping out of the top four which had looked fairly secure previously. They were thankful to see rivals Chelsea lose at West Ham which keeps them in third but with Manchester United on a terrific run and just three points adrift, they will need to beat Palace to keep daylight between the chasing pack. With fixtures against Arsenal, Spurs and United on the final day, it’s easy to see why City have been popular recently to miss out on the top four but at least their destiny remains firmly in their hands. The Eagles began with two victories but have followed up with successive defeats as they look to breach the top half. Five of their remaining last six games are against teams currently in the top nine so they face a big ask to avoid the bottom half. Their midweek 1-0 home reverse against Burnley was frustrating but they failed to produce enough efforts on goal to even take a point and with only twenty-eight recorded in the top flight are the second-worst club for goals scored. Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers was understandably disappointed with a slow start at Everton which saw them lose 2-1. However, there was much improvement during the second period which they won 1-0. They must regain confidence and start brighter but the signs were promising at Goodison and they will want to ensure months of hard work don’t go unrewarded by tamely dropping off the pace.  Leicester are a strong club and their team sheet is exciting and they can start to confirm their top four intentions with success.

Wolves

Wolves are in excellent form and just three points adrift of Midland rivals Leicester now. They have played more competitive matches than any other side in the top flight this season after a long Europa League run began last July. They still have high hopes in that event and are very much in the race to finish in the top four still too. The fact they are favourites to beat Arsenal in this tea-time clash shows how far the club have developed and only champions Liverpool have lost fewer games than the Black and Golds in the Premier League this season. They have won five of their last six Premier League matches and are one of the form teams in the competition. Having established a useful five-point lead over the chasing pack, they look booked for a top-six finish at the very least and face an exciting end to the campaign. Arsenal realistically know only victory will suffice for them, as they are lagging behind in eighth and seventh place may be a more realistic target for them to achieve. They did get back on the goal trail bagging four in a romp against bottom club Norwich and that followed a confidence-boosting FA Cup success at Sheffield United. Manager Mikel Arteta will look to put his own stamp on the team before next season and at least there are signs of improvement. However, their record against top-six sides is poor and it will take a huge effort to surprise the hosts. Wolves can confirm their supremacy with yet another three points and keep the pressure on those around them.

Chelsea

The Saturday night late game gives Chelsea a great opportunity to regain winning ways as they entertain relegation-threatened Watford. The Blues were surprisingly beaten 3-2 at West Ham during the week when they conceded late on but had previously won five on the bounce including two FA Cup victories. With only three points separating the four clubs between third and sixth, this is one of the closest Premier League finishes for many years and they cannot afford further slips if they wish to remain in the top four. Equally tight is at the foot where Watford are one of four clubs trying to avoid joining Norwich in the Championship next term, separated by just three points. A 3-1 home loss against Southampton last Sunday left them a single point and place above the drop zone and their six wins in the Premier League is only one better than seemingly doomed Norwich. Incredibly they have just one victory from their last ten Premier League outings and that was a stand out 3-0 home win against Liverpool. Home fixtures with Norwich and Newcastle may ultimately decide their fate and it’s difficult to see them having the quality to trouble Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Fulham

The race for automatic promotion from the Championship remains exciting and although Leeds and West Brom remain in the driving seat, they have seen big leads start to evaporate and the clubs chasing are still within touching distance. Fulham were no match for title favourites, Leeds, at Elland Road last Saturday although arguably a 3-0 success flattered the hosts and the Londoners had chances when only trailing 1-0. They bounced back with a come from behind 2-1 derby day success at close rivals QPR on Tuesday where star forward Aleksandar Mitrovic began the first of his three-game suspension. The Cottagers look set for at least playoff football holding a seven-point advantage over seventh-placed Derby but it will take a monumental effort to bridge the seven points they trail West Brom in second. They now host Birmingham who should be safe from relegation despite failing to win any of their last eight Championship matches. Six of those have finished draws but they have conceded six goals in the last week and were battered 3-0 by Huddersfield at St Andrew’s on Wednesday evening. The Blues may feel one further win can ensure championship football once more but there may be easier tasks than trying to secure that at Craven Cottage. Fulham can virtually confirm a top-six finish with maximum points and at least continue to build, even if a playoff assault remains their best hope of reaching the Premier League.

Brentford

This clash pits two of the form teams together although both find themselves in much different places regarding their possible futures. Brentford have closed the gap on second-placed West Brom to just five points although they would have been disappointed to see the Baggies win 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday to keep the Bees at arm’s length. Brentford have won four consecutive matches and were cosy 3-0 midweek winners at Reading. They may have to win their final six games to threaten a top-two finish but will certainly be favourites in the playoffs.  Forward Ollie Watkins has managed twenty-three league goals and is surrounded by plenty of creativity in a side that often entertains and plays ‘easy on the eye’ football. Wigan have been in terrific form themselves but suffered a blow in midweek when announcing they faced administration and a possible twelve point deduction. Having been odds on at Christmas to be relegated, they have fought back to climb up to fourteenth after a nine-match unbeaten run which includes six wins recently. That deduction would leave them two points adrift at the bottom and with a six-point deficit to move out of the bottom three. With clashes against fellow relegation-threatened Barnsley, Hull and Charlton to follow they can remain positive but may find this trip one step too far. Brentford can keep the foot on the accelerator with another victory and keep pressure on those above them.

 

Leicester City, Fulham, Brentford, Wolves & Chelsea all to win
14/1
Odds are correct at the time of posting

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