Survival struggle: Burnley host Leicester and Sunderland visit Stoke
The Premier League relegation battle looks set to go down to the wire, and this weekend’s fixture list could prove crucial in several clubs’ bids to beat the drop.
Ambitious, potential escapologists Leicester City (2/1 with Coral to lose their top tier status) seek to continue their recent fantastic form against bottom-dwellers Burnley (2/5), while struggling Sunderland (5/6) make the tough trip to Stoke City.
Burnley v Leicester City
With three victories from their past three outings, the in-form Foxes (9/5 to win) take their fight to Turf Moor, where fellow relegation risks Burnley are 8/5 to triumph despite taking just one point from their last four games.
Defeat would see either edge closer to the trap door and a draw at 11/5 will not do. Leicester should be hopeful, however, having not lost to the Clarets in eight.
Nigel Pearson’s men also ran out 2-0 winners in this fixture last season, when both teams were in the second tier, and are 13/8 to bag as many or more again.
Injury doubt David Nugent grabbed the opener on that occasion but Pearson may have to rely on Foxes forwards Leonardo Ulloa (7/1 to open the scoring after doing so against Swansea), Andrej Kramaric (2/1 in the anytime market) and energetic Jamie Vardy (9/1 to net last) this time instead.
Burnley cannot hope to match the Foxes’ firepower, as the Clarets have failed to find the target in their past four fixtures. Dangerman Danny Ings is Sean Dyche’s best chance of troubling their gung-ho guests and is a superb 7/4 in the anytime market to step up.
Stoke City v Sunderland
The Black Cats are still trying to claw themselves away from the danger zone, but their survival plans suffered a blow last time out after a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Crystal Palace.
Having notched up just one win in their past nine league games, sub-par Sunderland must face sturdy Stoke, who have been beaten at the Britannia Stadium only once in their last four fixtures.
The Potters, odds-on at 10/11 to clinch all three points, are pushing for a top half finish, and boast forward threats in former Manchester United man Mame Biram Diouf (11/2 to grab the opener) and Peter Crouch (6/4 to strike anytime).
Forgotten midfield man Charlie Adam, meanwhile, has hit two in his past three appearances, and is 8/1 to deliver the final blow.
The Black Cats can take confidence from their form in the reverse, however, where they put three past the Potters, and are 7/2 to snatch another victory.
Last season’s survival hero Connor Wickham has hit form at the right time, and could be back to his old tricks. The Mackem’s marksman drew first blood against Stoke earlier in the season and is a terrific 10/1 to do so again, while Scotland international Steven Fletcher bagged a brace, and is 18/1 to repeat that feat.