Premier League talking points
Published 15/04/2016 | 04:36
Aston Villa could be consigned to relegation from the Barclays Premier League this weekend, while leaders Leicester could extend their advantage at the top of the table into double figures before rivals Tottenham kick off at Stoke on Monday night.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the talking points ahead of this weekend's fixtures.
CAN BLACK CATS CLIP CANARIES' WINGS?
Relegation-battlers Sunderland head to Norwich to kick off the action on Saturday lunchtime. Both clubs are scrapping for their top-flight survival. The Canaries moved out of the relegation zone with back-to-back wins over Newcastle and West Brom, but defeat at Crystal Palace last time out leaves them just four points ahead of 18th-placed Sunderland, who have played a match less. While not a must-win showdown, it is certainly a must-not-lose game for either team if they are to keep alive hopes of playing in the Premier League again next season.
WILL VILLA FINALLY BE PUT OUT OF THEIR MISERY?
Villa have been all but down for weeks - and relegation would have been confirmed had Norwich not lost last weekend. While an away win at Old Trafford is not as rare event as it used to be, even that might not be enough to save Villa, whose fate could be sealed before they kick off should Norwich avoid defeat. Whatever the outcome, one thing is certain and that is the Midlands club face a huge rebuilding programme on and off the pitch if they are to avoid an extended stay outside the elite.
CAN THE FOXES MOVE A STEP CLOSER THE TITLE?
Leicester are within three victories of what would be one of the most remarkable championship successes in the history of the English game. Manager Claudio Ranieri has said the "the fans can dream", but called for continued focus from his players ahead of Sunday's home game against West Ham. However, should Leicester come away with another three points to further increase their lead over Spurs to 10 points, then perhaps the Italian might even allow himself the odd momentary contemplation of just what the East Midlands club stand on the verge of achieving.
CAN THE GUNNERS MOUNT A LATE, LATE CHARGE?
While Foxes fans might well be lost in dreamland as the campaign edges towards a finale, the Gunners are seemingly left to once again reflect on what might have been. However, while a current 13-point deficit is almost insurmountable, it is not yet a mathematic impossibility. Arsenal, though, have no more margin for error and need to produce a perfect six from their remaining games to stand any chance of gatecrashing the title party late on, starting with a win at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.
WILL SPURS STOKE UP THE PRESSURE?
A trip to the Britannia Stadium is always going to prove a test, whatever end of the table you are battling. Spurs head to Stoke knowing they cannot afford any more slip-ups if the Foxes maintain their momentum. Leicester-based referee Kevin Friend was switched away from taking charge of the game, aiming to avoid "any extra scrutiny on the refereeing appointment", which would no doubt have followed across social media the moment a debatable decision went against the visitors. Turn it on like they did when demolishing Manchester United at White Hart Lane next week, though, and Mauricio Pochettino's men will not need help from anyone, friend or foe.