Premier League Predictions – Weekend Beginning

Sunderland vs Arsenal

The Stadium of Light welcomes Arsenal for the first part of Sky’s Super Sunday offering with Sam Allardyce’s men looking to build on the momentum gained from Saturday’s rousing victory at fellow relegation strugglers Norwich City. A point for the home side would see them leap over the Canaries and out of the relegation zone for just the third time this season.

On the other hand, the Gunners go into Sunday’s encounter with their season once again underlined by disappointment rather than triumph. Back-to-back draws against West Ham and Crystal Palace have opened the door slightly ajar for Manchester United to steal the final Champions League position, with any hopes of a league title well and truly out of sight.

Many supporters have lost complete patience with their manager Arsene Wenger, although they may be comforted by the knowledge that the North London club have not tasted defeat against Sunderland in the last 12 top-flight matches between the sides.

If the lively strike partnership of Jermaine Defoe and Fabio Borini can capitalise on Arsenal’s defensive deficiencies, it will be a tough afternoon for the away side. However, one should not overlook the attacking options available to Wenger with the recent performances of youngster Alex Iwobi a shining light in what has been an extremely gloomy period for everyone connected with the Emirates club.

My tip is both teams to score in a 1-1 draw – a result which will certainly favour Sunderland over the perennial underachievers of Arsenal. The shrewd operator that is ‘Big Sam’ will have identified that a point will go a long way in preserving his impeccable record of never being relegated in his managerial career.

They say timing is everything and the Mackems will take full advantage of Norwich’s inactivity to give themselves the morale boost of lifting themselves out of the bottom three.

Leicester vs Swansea

The fairytale rolls on. The point that Leicester City picked up in Sunday’s dramatic 2-2 draw at home to West Ham may well prove to be the one that leads them to what will be one of the greatest achievements in the history of the game.

This weekend sees the turn of Swansea who will look to put a spanner in the works of Leicester’s seemingly unstoppable title charge. Nine points from a possible 12 in March has virtually assured the Swans of a sixth consecutive season in the Barclays Premier League.

Despite reaching the magical benchmark of 40 points, manager Francesco Guidolin affirmed to BBC Sport that his side were not yet safe from relegation. “We can’t take our foot off the pedal, we need some points for mathematical security to stay in the Premier League,” he explained.

The Foxes will go into the encounter without their talisman Jamie Vardy who notched his 22nd goal of an outstanding campaign against the Hammers before being sent off for diving.

The 29-year-old faces further disciplinary action after being charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for remonstrating with the referee following his dismissal. His energy and clinical edge in front of goal will be sorely missed, but Leonardo Ulloa is more than capable of filling the void left behind, as demonstrated by his composure in converting Sunday’s 90th-minute spot-kick.

The King Power Stadium will be packed to the rafters and the atmosphere will be electric. All of the pressure will be on the home side and so far they have thrived with the weight of the football world on their shoulders. I have no doubt Swansea will turn in a better performance than the apathetic one they put in at St James Park on Saturday, but Leicester somehow keep finding a way to grind out results. 

Claudio Ranieri’s side don’t concede many and I think another 1-0 win is on the cards in what will be a tense game of football. Five of the Foxes last six victories have been by this scoreline, highlighting their togetherness, unity, discipline and most importantly will to win – surely the sign of champions?

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