Among six Premier League games taking place on Sunday are a couple of huge matches involving teams caught up in the relegation scrap, with struggling Leeds United's home clash with Norwich City catching the eye.
Original article published 5 September 2022
Leeds opted - to plenty of opposition from some of their own fans - to sack manager Marcelo Bielsa last month following a streak of four consecutive defeats.
That run, in which they conceded 17 goals, saw them slip to 16th in the table as their second campaign back in the top flight threatened to unravel spectacularly.
American coach Jesse Marsch was appointed to try and turn things around but, after two games in charge, things are still looking bleak at Elland Road.
A 1-0 defeat at Leicester City was followed by a shoddy display in a 3-0 home loss to Aston Villa on Thursday and the West Yorkshire side are now just two points above the bottom three.
To make matters worse, going into this weekend's Premier League fixtures, they have played three games more than Everton, who are a place and point directly below, while they have played two more than Burnley, currently in 18th.
Leeds' run-in is also problematic to put it mildly, as Marsch's side have still to play Wolves, Southampton, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal among their 10 remaining fixtures.
Which is why a home match against bottom-of-the-table Norwich is being seen as an absolute must-win by fans who are growing ever more concerned about a possible return to the Championship - with Leeds 13/5 to register a win by a one-goal margin.
The one positive to cling to for everyone associated with Leeds at the minute is the fact they are taking on a team in equally dire form in the shape of the Canaries.
City have looked like relegation candidates for much of the season and even though Dean Smith's appointment has had a few bright spots, notably with the wins over Everton and Watford in January, it is looking increasingly likely that they will end the campaign in the bottom three.
Norwich have lost their last five league games by a combined score of 15-3 and plenty of people will argue another defeat this weekend would effectively kill off their slim hopes of survival.
However, if Norwich can put an end to their wretched run and pick up all three points at Elland Road - on offer at 9/2 - then suddenly an unlikely escape mission could be on the cards, although they will also have to rely on the likes of Burnley, Watford and Everton to continue to falter in the remaining weeks of the campaign to pull it off.
The Leeds-Norwich showdown is not the only game on Sunday which could be pivotal at the bottom, though, as Everton host Wolves and Watford go to Southampton.
Everton, who are 5/4 to win on Sunday have so far failed to pick up under the guidance of Frank Lampard and their 5-0 defeat at Tottenham last time out is the obvious low point of the former Chelsea midfielder's short tenure.
Afterwards, Lampard insisted he remained confident he could get the Toffees out of trouble and he didn't have "any fear" about the tough battle ahead.
However, such was the capitulation at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium he knows they simply have to cut out the basic mistakes that badly affected their game if they are to recover and move clear of trouble.
There have been some positives for Lampard since he moved to Merseyside, notably FA Cup wins at home over Brentford and Boreham Wood and a 3-0 Goodison Park success over Leeds in the league, so he will be pleased it's another home date this weekend.
Wolves' bid for a top-six finish has, meanwhile, stuttered of late after three straight defeats to Arsenal, West Ham and Crystal Palace, but they got back to winning ways in some style with a 4-0 hammering of Watford on Thursday and they will, therefore, approach a trip to the north-west with renewed confidence.
Bruno Lage's side are 12/5 to win, with a draw 11/5.
Speaking of Watford, they are also right in the thick of a relegation fight as Roy Hodgson's side sit second bottom, three points adrift of safety.
It's a familiar theme of a new manager not yet being able to turn things around with the former England boss only picking up one victory since being appointed at Vicarage Road.
A creditable goalless draw at Manchester United has not been built on in the past few weeks either, with consecutive defeats to Arsenal and Wolves leaving the Hornets facing a huge uphill task to drag themselves out of trouble in what's left of the campaign.
Watford are 17/4 to secure a much-needed win at St Mary's, with the hosts priced at 3/5 and the draw 16/5.
The other three games taking place on Sunday see in-form Newcastle United going to third-placed Chelsea, while West Ham host improving Aston Villa and Leicester City head to Arsenal.