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Five unresolved issues in the Premier League

London (AFP) – With the end of the Premier League season just two and a half weeks away, here are five issues that are still to be resolved ahead of this weekend’s matches.

1. The title race

Their fine 2-0 win over Arsenal having kept the heat on leaders Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur can trim the gap to a single point with victory at West Ham United on Friday.

With Chelsea not hosting Middlesbrough until Monday, Antonio Conte’s men would have three days to fret about the heat of Tottenham’s breath on the backs of their necks.

Chelsea showed little sign of nerves by winning 3-0 at Everton on their last outing and defender Cesar Azpilicueta said thoughts immediately turned to the visit of second-bottom Boro.

“Obviously it’s one step forward, but there are still four games to play,” the Spaniard told the Chelsea website.

“We are really happy with the Everton game, but now we must focus on the next one.”

2. Four into two won’t go

With Chelsea and Tottenham well clear of the teams below them, four sides — Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal — are scrapping over the two remaining Champions League places.

Emre Can’s spectacular scissors kick gave third-place Liverpool a 1-0 win at Watford last Monday that kept Jurgen Klopp’s side in control of their top-four destiny ahead of Southampton’s visit on Sunday.

City are just a point above United in the fourth and final qualifying spot, but have a much more straightforward run-in.

Whereas United, whose squad is beset by injuries, must travel to Arsenal and Tottenham, City’s most arduous assignment is a home game with eighth-place West Bromwich Albion.

Arsenal trail City by six points, with a game in hand, and — like United — are relying on the teams above them dropping points.

“The others are losing points as well sometimes, so our job is to win the remaining games and then we will see,” said Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech.

City host Crystal Palace on Saturday, while United and Arsenal have an opportunity to land a hammer blow on each other’s top-four hopes when they meet at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

3. Hull or Swansea?

Sunderland succumbed to the drop last weekend and with Boro poised to join them, the battle to avoid the third and final relegation spot appears to be a shootout between Swansea City and Hull City.

Swansea currently sit in the bottom three and will face Everton, Sunderland and West Brom in their final three games.

Hull are two points better off and host demoralised Sunderland on Saturday, but their season concludes with a home game against title-chasing Tottenham.

“The next game is the most important, against Sunderland,” said Hull manager Marco Silva.

“Always for us it is step by step, game by game. If you ask me about Swansea, I don’t know.”

4. When will Middlesbrough succumb?

Six points from safety with only nine points to play for, Middlesbrough’s demotion to the Championship alongside northeast rivals Sunderland appears to be only a matter of time.

Steve Agnew’s side will be relegated if Hull win at home to Sunderland and they fail to win at Chelsea.

5. The Golden Boot

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku leads the race for the Golden Boot, his 24 goals putting him clear of Tottenham’s Harry Kane (21).

With Chelsea’s Diego Costa and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez next in line on 19, Lukaku is on track to become the first Everton player to top the scoring charts since Gary Lineker in 1986.


Friday (1900 GMT):

West Ham v Tottenham

Saturday (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated):

Bournemouth v Stoke, Burnley v West Brom, Hull v Sunderland, Leicester v Watford, Man City v Crystal Palace (1130 GMT), Swansea v Everton (1630 GMT)


Arsenal v Man Utd (1500 GMT), Liverpool v Southampton (1230 GMT)

Monday (1900 GMT):

Chelsea v Middlesbrough

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