Bi-weekly match previews – Jason Pettigrove

I find it astonishing that people are still questioning whether Leicester have what it takes to win the Premier League.

The Foxes have won at least two games more than anyone else, have lost just three times all season and are just two goals shy of top-scorers Tottenham. Oh yeah, and they just happen to be five points clear with seven games left to play.

About time to give Claudio Ranieri and his players a little more respect don’t you think?

There are some intriguing games in this round of fixtures, none more so than a classic top flight match up at Anfield.

Let’s take a look at four of the games on offer, all of which can be watched via our friends at

Manchester United v Everton

This could be the first of two fixtures between the sides in April.

If United manage to overcome West Ham in the last ever cup tie to be played at Upton Park, then they’ll face the Toffees for the right to meet Crystal Palace or Watford in the final.

Looking that far ahead will be a mistake of course.

Louis Van Gaal hasn’t been sacked yet, nor will the United board commit to announcing Jose Mourinho as his replacement. But the Dutchman is a dead man walking.

If anything, it’s Everton that are playing the swashbuckling style of football that the Old Trafford faithful crave.

Unfortunately for Roberto Martinez, for all of their attacking verve and spirit, and despite having some of the best young players in their ranks, Everton just aren’t good enough in defence.

John Stones was once touted as the replacement for John Terry at Chelsea. Barcelona were even said to be interested in his services. But the 21-year-old clearly has a lot of maturing to do as a player.

His battle with Anthony Martial could author the outcome to this one.

At this point it’s arguable that the Red Devils are in greater need of the points than their visitors.

Currently out of the Champions League places, they could fall out of European contention altogether with a couple of poor results.

The two clubs immediately below them, Southampton and Stoke City, are just three and four points behind and playing well.

Mourinho’s tenure could therefore end up starting on the worst possible footing. What big names would want to go to the Theatre of Dreams knowing that they can’t showcase their talents on the biggest stage?

West Ham v Crystal Palace

Nothing would give Alan Pardew greater pleasure than putting one over his old employers, especially when they’re enjoying arguably their most successful period since Pardew himself was in charge at Upton Park.

Slaven Bilic has transformed essentially the same crop of players, with one or two expert additions. Also rans to European contenders in the space of 12 months, and one game away from the FA Cup semi finals.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

The Eagles were flying high at one stage and were as high as sixth position. However, they’ve fallen way down the pecking order over the last couple of months and whilst they’ll not go down, the lack of fight will concern the manager.

We can expect the south Londoners to rough their east London brethren up a little and do their utmost to knock them out of their stride.

That won’t sit well with a capacity Boleyn crowd who are praying that Bilic can squeeze every last ounce of commitment out of his players and make Champions League football a reality for the first season at the Olympic Stadium.

Emanuel Adebayor will prove, as always, to be a tricky customer, and Yohan Cabaye has the skills to mirror Dimitri Payet’s influence for the Hammers.

Arsenal v Watford

Can lightning strike twice at the Emirates Stadium? Gunners fans will hope not because another surprising win for the Hornets will severely dent their hopes of a top four finish.

At present Arsene Wenger’s side have a healthy four-point gap over Manchester City but they play a Watford side who need just one more win to hit the safety mark of 40 points for the season.

Given the limited funds available to Quique Sanchez Flores, some Premier League stability will be the best indicator of his acumen in the role.

Arsenal haven’t been used to looking upwards and finding arch rivals and near neighbours Tottenham above them, and as things stand at the moment there are six points between the pair.

Spurs have a tricky away fixture to overcome so this represents a perfect opportunity for the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud et al, to fire the Gunners to something approaching where they should realistically be in the table, given the quality of their exponents.

The ‘Wenger Out’ brigade have been in full voice since their last humbling at the hands of this opponent. The noise will become a cacophony of sound if the Frenchman is unable to inspire yet again.

Liverpool v Tottenham

The quality of Jurgen Klopp’s starting line up will be an indicator of how seriously he takes the Europa League.

A date at this former club Borussia Dortmund follows this clash just four days later and whilst most are expecting the Germans to dump the Reds out over two legs, if anyone has the keys to that particular lock it would be Klopp.

Injuries have played the fullest part in Liverpool’s team selections to this point and although managers never like to use excuses, it’s reasonable to infer that the club would be placed higher if Daniel Sturridge and others weren’t in and out of the side so frequently.

Spurs arrive on Merseyside as one of the favourites for the title and in Harry Kane have one of the form strikers in the division.

Any Leicester slip up at this stage gives Mauricio Pochettino and co. more than a sniff of silverware, given that it would bring the Lilywhites to within two points of the leaders.

Man for man, Tottenham arguably have the best young side in the division and their football isn’t too different to the ‘rock and roll’ high octane gegenpressing that Klopp enjoys.

It promises to be a fantastic game of football and one that could have a huge impact on the destination of the title this season.

Other games available on (please check our listings for channel details) are: Aston Villa v Chelsea, Sunderland v West Brom, Stoke v Swansea, Norwich v Newcastle, Bournemouth v Man City and Leicester v Southampton.

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