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Premier League top-four race dominates Saturday

After three thrilling nights of European football, the Premier League returns on Saturday with four games taking place and the race for the top four in the spotlight.

Original article published 30 August 2022

Four teams will not play due to the fact that the FA Cup semi-finals are taking place at Wembley, with Chelsea facing Crystal Palace, while Manchester City and Liverpool lock horns for the second time in a week.

Saturday's fixtures still have lots riding on them, though, with Tottenham hosting Brighton in the capital at 12:30.

Manchester United will look to return to winning ways against strugglers Norwich City at 15:00, while at the same time Southampton will hope to dent Arsenal's top-four hopes at St Mary's.

Watford simply must start picking up points quickly and they welcome Brentford to Vicarage Road at 15:00.

Time for Spurs to lay down a marker

Football is a strange old game, as we know, but at the highest level the twists and turns can be quite sudden.

Less than two months ago, Burnley beat Tottenham at Turf Moor, which left Antonio Conte questioning his future.

Well, maybe question is putting it mildly; in his post-match interview, he suggested he was planning to walk away. The Italian decided to stay put and the rest, as they say, is history.

Spurs responded by recording wins over Leeds United and Everton, scoring nine goals without conceding a goal, while Sean Dyche has now lost his job at Turf Moor after a 10-year tenure.

They have also beaten Brighton, West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa, and that run of results, coupled with Arsenal's struggles, have allowed them to move into fourth in the Premier League table.

Tottenham, now 4/11 to finish in the top four, stretched their winning run to four last Saturday against Villa, and Conte seems to have got a tune out of his team at the right time.

The Italian will be without full-back Matt Doherty for Saturday's lunchtime KO, and the Republic of Ireland international will be out until next season due to a knee injury.

Either Sergio Reguilon or Ryan Sessegnon will return to the fold, but even without Doherty, Spurs will feel they can put Brighton under immense pressure.

The Seagulls won their first game since February when they beat the Gunners last Saturday, but Spurs have already proven they can get the better of Graham Potter's troops.

Spurs - 8/15 to win this weekend - won the reverse fixture 2-0, and they also beat Brighton in the FA Cup, and they should add to their points tally as they try to keep Arsenal at arm's length.

Gunners aiming to get back on track

Just like Tottenham, Arsenal know all about the lows and highs of Premier League football, and the Gunners are entering a crucial period of their campaign.

After a shocking start under Mikel Arteta, Arsenal looked to be cruising into the top four in March, but the international break appears to have fallen at the wrong time for them.

The Gunners beat Aston Villa 1-0 before their squad headed off on international duty, and they have since lost 3-0 to Crystal Palace and 2-1 to Brighton.

Three defeats in four means Arsenal's top-four hopes hang in the balance and they are now three points behind Spurs and 2/1 to pip their London rivals to the final Champions League spot.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for Arsenal, with Arteta's side having one game in hand on their rivals.

They need to return to winning ways quickly and even though injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey have dampened their spirits, Southampton's form is a real worry.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side are without a victory in six matches and they were thumped 6-0 by Chelsea last time out, so it could pay to back Arsenal to win at 10/11.

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Red Devils looking to silence Canaries

Norwich's Premier League status is hanging by a thread, but last week's victory over Burnley has given the Canaries fan base something to cling on to as we reach the business end of the campaign.

Dean Smith's side are still eight points from safety, but they could be playing Manchester United at the right time.

The Red Devils have only won one of their previous seven matches, and they were eliminated from the Champions League in March, meaning they will go without silverware for another season.

Last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Everton showcased the glaring issues within the United squad, and Ralf Rangnick's methods seem to be failing at Old Trafford.

Their record at home is slightly better, thanks to one defeat in five, but they need results to go their way if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top four.

With motivation an issue for United's squad, the draw could be worth considering at 11/2.

Bees to hammer final nail in Watford coffin

After last week's 3-0 defeat to Leeds, Roy Hodgson's body language suggests he thinks his team could be out of chances as they try to avoid relegation.

The Hornets are seven points away from safety and they have also played more games than relegation rivals Everton and Burnley.

On the other hand, Brentford have flown under the radar of late, winning four of their last five games to put any fears of relegation to bed.

Confidence is massive at this stage of the season and, with Christian Eriksen guiding them around the park, the Bees should pick up three points at 6/4 to push Watford towards the Championship.

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