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Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-by-Game Guide as Title Race Heats Up

Dan ColasimoneContributor IFebruary 27, 2014

Premier League Weekend Preview: Game-by-Game Guide as Title Race Heats Up

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    The jostling for positions at the top of the Premier League table is as intense as ever, and with Manchester City playing in the Capital One Cup this weekend, Chelsea and Arsenal will have a chance to put some pressure on them by notching another three points each.

    Jose Mourinho's side are away to bottom-placed Fulham while the Gunners travel to Stoke City. Any dropped points at this stage could prove fatal for a team's title hopes.

    There are key match-ups right across the board in what promises to be another thrilling weekend of action.

Everton vs. West Ham United

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    Bogdan Maran/Associated Press

    Where: Goodison Park

     

    When: Saturday, 1 March, 3 p.m. GMT

     

    Form

    Everton are at risk of undoing their hard work earlier in the season after suffering three losses in their last four Premier League encounters. To be fair, those losses did come against top opposition in Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea, but nevertheless the Merseysiders will be especially keen to plunder all three points from this home game.

    West Ham, meanwhile, are in sensational form, having clocked four wins out of four leading into this game. Sam Allardyce's men will face a much sterner test at Goodison Park, however, in an encounter that threatens to halt their momentum.

     

    Prediction 

    Everton have the class to recover from their triple whammy against strong opponents and should bring an end to West Ham's impressive resurgence. Everton 3 - 1 West Ham.

Fulham vs. Chelsea

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Where: Craven Cottage

     

    When: Saturday, 1 March, 3 p.m. GMT

     

    Form

    There's a reason Fulham sit rock bottom of the Premier League table. They have not managed a win in their last seven league matches, a run which included five losses. A match against the ladder leader is not what they needed right now.

    Chelsea were the best-performing English side in the Champions League during the week, but that's not saying much. Mourinho's side managed a 1-1 away draw against Galatasaray and will still fancy their chances of progressing to the next phase. In the league, things could scarcely be travelling better. Sitting pretty at the top of the table; the Blues have gone 12 matches without defeat.

     

    Prediction

    Even though this is an away match for Chelsea it is hard to imagine anything other than a win for John Terry and friends. Fulham 0 - 3 Chelsea.

Hull City vs. Newcastle United

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    Scott Heppell/Associated Press

    Where: Kingston Communications Stadium

     

    When: Saturday, 1 March, 3 p.m. GMT

     

    Form

    Hull are coming off an impressive 4-0 hammering of Cardiff City last week, a win which saw them move up to 11th and lift them six points clear of the relegation zone. Their home form has dipped in recent times, though, as they haven't found a win at the KC Stadium in their last three appearances there. Yannick Sagbo's return from suspension could give them the boost they need. In short, this is a huge game for Steve Bruce's side in the context of their season.

    Alan Pardew's men, meanwhile, have notched consecutive victories in the league but remain somewhat in mid-table limbo, sitting ten points behind fifth-placed Tottenham. They will need to be clinical in this game, and over the next few weeks, to continue their push for a European place.

     

    Prediction

    The Magpies look that little bit more ruthless at the moment and should be able to gain their first league win over Hull since 1990. Hull 0 - 1 Newcastle.

Stoke City vs. Arsenal

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Where: Britannia Stadium

     

    When: Saturday, 1 March, 3 p.m. GMT

     

    Form 

    Stoke are one of the worst-performing teams in recent weeks, having only managed one win (albeit against Manchester United) in their last 10 Premier League starts. Their home form will offer some hope, however, as 21 of their 27 points this season were won at the Britannia. 

    Arsene Wenger's side hammered five goals past Sunderland in their last outing to temporarily put paid to talk of a form slump after recent losses to Bayern Munich and Liverpool. They will have to rediscover their consistent form from earlier in the season, however, if they are to see off Manchester City and Chelsea in the title race.

    The match against Stoke presents an opportunity for Arsenal to take some momentum into the business end of the season.

    Prediction

    The Gunners, on paper, should win this easily, and they must win it as far as the title race is concerned. Stoke's best chance is if Arsenal choke under the pressure, but that might be asking too much. Stoke 0 - 2 Arsenal.

Southampton vs. Liverpool

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    Jon Super/Associated Press

    Where: St. Mary's Stadium

     

    When: Saturday, 1 March, 5:30 p.m. GMT

     

    Form 

    Southampton have beaten the Reds three times on the trot at St. Mary's and also knocked them over at Anfield in September. A loss last week against West Ham brought to an end a strong run of six games without defeat for the Saints.

    Liverpool are in rampant form and have clawed their way into the title conversation over the past few weeks through a combination of positive results and dazzling football. Brendan Rogers' men will be wary of their poor recent record against Southampton but very aware of the four-point gap which now separates them from league leaders Chelsea.

     

    Prediction

    The Reds have looked unstoppable recently and should be too much for Southampton to handle in this form. Southampton 1 - 4 Liverpool.

Aston Villa vs. Norwich City

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    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    Where: Villa Park

     

    When: Sunday, 2 March, 4:30 p.m. GMT

     

    Form 

    The two sides come into this clash equal on points in the Premier League table, and neither can boast the most impressive form.

    Norwich did score an upset win over Tottenham in their last outing, but before that match they had gone four games without a win. 

    Aston Villa have lost three out of their last four games and will also feel under immense pressure.

     

    Prediction

    This is a clash between two teams who are desperate to steer clear of the relegation battle and with both fearful of a loss, they could cancel each other out. Aston Villa 0 - 0 Norwich.

Swansea City vs. Crystal Palace

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Where: Liberty Stadium

     

    When: Sunday, 2 March, 4:30 p.m. GMT

     

    Form

    Crystal Palace have managed to keep Swansea scoreless in their last five competitive encounters and have conceded just nine goals in their last nine EPL games, with just one of those goals coming in the first half. Their form has been inconsistent in the league, and they remain a perilous two points above the relegation zone.

    Swansea are coming off a mid-week loss to Napoli in the Europa League and a thrilling 4-3 defeat to Liverpool in their last Premier League encounter. How they bounce back mentally from those two losses could determine how this match pans out.

     

    Prediction

    Swansea may have picked up a little bit of resolve from their recent defeats and can turn things around again at Liberty Stadium. Crystal Palace 0 - 1 Swansea.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Cardiff City

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    Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

    Where: White Hart Lane

     

    When: Sunday, 2 March, 4:30 p.m. GMT

     

    Form

    Poor finishing haunted Spurs in their 1-0 loss to Norwich last week, but Europa League success against Dnipro mid-week should help to raise their confidence. Tottenham sit a tantalizing six points off fourth place, but they will need to put together a strong run to have any hope of catching a rampant Liverpool.

    The Welsh side, meanwhile, are struggling for form and looking almost certain to be relegated unless they can turn things around very quickly. 

     

    Prediction

    This match can only go one way if form is taken into account. As long as Tottenham can hit the target, they should canter to a win. Tottenham 2 - 0 Cardiff City.

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