Top Premier League Story Lines: Relegation race running hot
Forget five story lines, as the Premier League has just six matches altogether this weekend thanks to the FA Cup semifinals.
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With the semifinalists all being PL powers, the focus will largely be on the relegation race aside from three Top Seven sides looking to put pressure on Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City.
Can Man Utd overcome short turnaround to keep up Top Four push?
Burnley vs. Manchester United -- 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday
Defender-depleted Manchester United was home for Thursday’s UEFA Europa League second leg, which is the only blessing of a midweek match before a trip to Turf Moor to take on a Clarets side who is much better at home. The Red Devils control their Top Four destiny, but dropping a point would lend an advantage of both Liverpool and Man City while opening things up for Arsenal.
United will be keen to avenge the draw at Old Trafford which saw Tom Heaton making like Superman, nearly shattering his arm in a sublime save on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Palace seeks to be influential at both ends of table
Liverpool vs. Crystal Palace -- 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Crystal Palace’s rise out of the drop zone has shaken up the Top Four a bit, too. Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend have helped the Eagles to April wins over Chelsea and Arsenal, and will hope to add Liverpool’s name to the list. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds are two points clear of fourth place Man City and six ahead of fifth place Manchester United, but have would drop out of the Top Four if the aforementioned clubs win their matches-in-hand the rest of the way. Lost points would hit hard.
Cherries aim to put relegation in rear view mirror
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough -- 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth opens the day seven points clear of the drop with five matches to play, and a win would lift the Cherries well above the fray. Boro would just like to see safety, sitting six points shy of 17th.
Can Tigers keep up safety pace?
Hull City vs. Watford -- 10 a.m. ET Saturday
While the unexpected is possible during the stretch run, the final relegation slot will likely come down to Hull and Swansea. Marco Silva’s Tigers are two points ahead of Swans and just need to maintain that pace barring a miraculous run from Boro. The next obstacle is a Watford side which has claimed three wins in four, the lone setback coming against the rolling Spurs.
Swans looking for any sign of life from the Liberty Stadium
Swansea City vs. Stoke City -- 10 a.m. ET Saturday
One point from six matches does not make a successful relegation fight, and Paul Clement’s side has lost to four lower tier sides since beating Burnley on March 4. Swansea have showed relegation form playing defense-first under Francesco Guidolin, throwing attack-first on Bob Bradley’s watch, and now in a variety of ways under Clement. Maybe it’s the players?
Will Toffees be able to make improbable run to fifth?
West Ham United vs. Everton -- 10 a.m. ET Saturday
Ronald Koeman’s Toffees can been fairly consistent in piling up points, except when it comes to the teams above it. That’s what is keeping Everton from being a real threat to the Top Four. West Ham is not above Everton, and would love to hit a reset button on the entire season. No way the Toffees foul this up, even on the road, right?