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Fight for Premier League survival heating up

The fight to remain in the Premier League continues on Thursday evening as four of the teams under pressure are in action.

Three matches take place at 19:30, while at 19:45 Leeds United host Aston Villa at Elland Road.

Norwich City welcome Chelsea to Carrow Road, while Southampton face in-form Newcastle United on the South Coast and Wolves meet Watford and it promises to be a night of drama at the wrong end of the table.

Canaries hoping to stop the rot

Norwich City are the team propping up the Premier League table as it stands, and Dean Smith's men look to be in real trouble.

The Canaries are six points away from safety at present, and unfortunately for them, 17th-placed Everton have two games in hand on them.

In January, Norwich looked to have hit a purple patch, winning three games on the spin in all competitions, but they have started to struggle, losing five in a row.

Manchester City, Southampton and Brentford have all beaten them in the league, while Liverpool picked up two victories against them in the Premier League and FA Cup.

While the fixture list could have been kinder to Norwich, they look like they will be on the back foot once again when they welcome Chelsea to the east coast.

Thomas Tuchel may have watched his side lose the EFL Cup final to Liverpool last month, but that was only their second defeat of 2022.

Chelsea, who are 10/11 to win to nil on Thursday, have won three of their last four on the road without conceding, and they should get the job done, even though they are set to be without Cesar Azpilicueta, Marcos Alonso and Reece James.

Hasenhuttl's men could clip Magpies' wings

Southampton and Newcastle United square off at St Mary's and remarkably, there are only seven points between them.

At the start of 2022, Newcastle were in danger of being cut adrift, but a seven-match unbeaten run has given them the belief that they can avoid the drop.

The Magpies are now as big as 16/1 to be relegated after their recent form helped them move seven points clear of the drop zone.

Five wins from their previous seven matches has lifted the mood in the dressing room and the club's January signings appear to have done the trick.

Saints were enjoying a similar run until last weekend when Aston Villa brought them crashing back down to earth.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side went seven without defeat before losing 4-0 at Villa Park last weekend and they are 19/20 to bounce back at the first attempt, while Newcastle are 11/4 to win on their travels.

Stalemate on the cards at Molineux

With 21 points separating Wolves and Watford in the Premier League table, you would expect the former to come out on top this Thursday.

Bruno Lage's side were on track for the top four at one point, and while that is still not beyond the realms of possibility, things have turned a little sour in the Midlands.

Wolves have lost three games on the spin in the Premier League, and they were booed off at half-time against Crystal Palace last weekend on their way to a 2-0 defeat.

Home season ticket holders have not enjoyed themselves of late, with Lage's troops losing three of their previous four at Molineux. While that is a cause for concern, they face Watford this midweek, who have won one of their last 16 in the top-flight.

Roy Hodgson has been unable to stop the rot, but away from the capital, their record is slightly better. Watford have lost just one of their previous five on the road, and that should give their fans confidence ahead of their trip to the Midlands.

A draw is available at 5/2, while a goalless draw can be backed at 13/2.

Returning Bamford aims to boost Whites

The last time striker Patrick Bamford returned from injury, he did so with a bang, sadly too much of a bang.

The England international came off the bench to help Leeds United rescue a 2-2 draw against Brentford in December, but in celebrating wildly he suffered a hamstring injury.

Bamford has had to deal with several ailments in the last few years, while that game against the Bees proved costly for Leeds.

Former boss Marcelo Bielsa also lost captain Liam Cooper and midfielder Kalvin Phillips to serious hamstring injuries in December and all three have yet to return ahead of their fixture against Aston Villa.

Both Cooper and Phillips should be back after the upcoming international break, but for Bamford, the time is now.

He scored a hat-trick last season against Villa away from home and new coach Jesse Marsch has revealed he will play his part from the bench.

Leeds have lost five in a row without their talisman and failed to find the back of the net in three of those games, and Bamford is 7/5 to score anytime on home turf.

Villa will be a tough nut to crack under Steven Gerrard after back-to-back victories, though, and they are 8/5 to add to Leeds' woes by taking all three points.

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