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Premier League Weds. preview: Top Four, relegation implications

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The penultimate steps in the relegation and Top Four races arrive Wednesday in a quartet of make-up games.

[ MORE: Relegation permutations ]

Chelsea vs. Huddersfield Town — 2:45 p.m. ET NBCSN [ STREAM ]

There’s an alternate world in which this game is the snooziest of late season affairs, with Chelsea having sewn up a Top Four spot and Town grimacing after a one-and-done campaign in the top flight.

But the Blues have underachieved and, depending on your viewpoint, the Terriers have punched about their weight. A single point for Town means Swansea is going down. A win for Chelsea puts pressure on Liverpool and Tottenham’s Sundays.

Man City vs. Brighton & Hove Albion — 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Chris Hughton and Brighton are safe, and cheers to them. Now they may become fodder for the cannon used for Manchester City’s assault on the record books. City is two goals shy of standing alone for the most in a single Premier League season (amongst a bevy of other possibilities) and was shut out last match. Yep, this could be a rough one.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Newcastle Utd — 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Spurs control their own destiny when it comes to finishing third, and have a bit of “late season meaningless game” payback to proffer Newcastle from the finale two seasons ago. A loss and Spurs could well finish fifth. A draw and they’ll control their own Top Four destiny on Sunday.

Leicester City vs. Arsenal — 2:45 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold [ STREAM ]

Speaking of alternate realities, not too long ago, this one could’ve been for seventh. Now Arsenal is safe in sixth, Leicester won’t finish higher than ninth, and we’re just wondering whether Arsene Wenger is going to opt for two- or three-piece suit at the King Power Stadium.

Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Southampton

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  • Southampton hasn’t won back-to-back matches all season
  • Everton has conceded the 10th-most goals at home (21 in 18 matches)
  • Saints one point behind Swansea in PL survival race

Everton hosts Southampton from Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Toffees aim to spoil their opponent’s chances of surviving relegation.

Heading into the weekend, the Saints in 18th place on 32 points, just one behind Swansea City. Meanwhile, Everton sits in eighth with two matches remaining.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Mark Hughes‘ Southampton is coming off of an important 2-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend at St. Mary’s, but the club will need to find another resilient performance in order to snap its poor fortunes over the second half of the season.

The Saints have won just two of their last 10 league matches, which has contributed greatly to the team’s demise.

Everton will be without a host of talent though on Saturday, with James McCarthy, Eliaquim Mangala, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Maarten Stekelenburg, Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all named in the injury report and not expected to dress for the match.

What they’re saying

Sam Allardyce on preventing Southampton from carrying over its momentum from last week:“I’m surprised to see all three teams in the bottom three. At the start of the season you wouldn’t have expected it, but it can happen for many reasons. We’re facing a team that is going to fight tooth and nail against us tomorrow. We have got to try and fight that tomorrow.”

Mark Hughes on importance of earning a second win in a row“Momentum is great if you gain momentum at the right time. Clearly if you are going for trophies and you are playing well in key games then that will help you to be successful. The same is true for teams in our situation. If we can build momentum on the back of the Bournemouth result then clearly that is going to help us at this stage of the season. Back-to-back results is massive at any stage of the season because invariably it shoves you up the table. We haven’t been able to do it on too many occasions. If we are able to manage it at the weekend then clearly that is a huge boost for us with what we have ahead of us.”

Prediction

A number of notable injuries for the Toffees could be exactly what Southampton needs to pull off a miraculous turnaround in its attempt of survival. That being said, Everton has been tremendous at home this season, and even without the likes of Sigurdsson and Calvert-Lewin this is still a quality side under Sam Allardyce. Everton 1-1 Southampton

Premier League Preview: West Brom v. Tottenham Hotspur

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  • West Brom has just one win in last 16 against Spurs
  • Tottenham has scored at least once in last 23 league matches
  • Baggies winless in previous six home games (2D, 4L)

West Bromwich Albion hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Baggies aim to stay afloat in the Premier League.

Anything outside of a victory in their final two matches will see West Brom drop to the Championship, as the Baggies sit on 28 points — five out of 17th place.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The Baggies are unbeaten in their last four matches, which gives the club genuine hope heading into their last two fixtures, however, only one game has resulted in three points.

Key injuries for both sides could leave them in a bit of a pickle, as Gareth Barry and James Morrison remain sidelined for the Baggies, while Moussa Dembele, Danny Rose and Harry Winks won’t feature for Spurs.

What they’re saying

West Brom boss Darren Moore named Manager of the Month: “It’s great to be nominated with those calibre of managers, it really, really is – I am honoured. But I will share that nomination with everybody here at West Brom. The reason I can sit up here and talk about it is because of the tremendous work everybody has done behind the scenes.”

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino on West Brom’s recent form: “West Brom are showing great character in their last few games – the capacity to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford and draw with Liverpool. They are doing fantastic in the last few months and of course they have the belief still [that they can stay up]. We are playing to be in the top four and try to play Champions League next season. I think it will be a massive battle for them, but also for us.”

Prediction

The task is anything but simple for the Baggies, particularly against a Spurs side with so much quality. Darren Moore’s side has performed admirably over the last month, but the team needed at least another victory during that span to have a legitimate shot at safety. Even with two wins down the stretch, which isn’t likely, survival isn’t a certainty for the West Midlands side. West Brom 1-3 Tottenham

PL Preview: Bournemouth vs. Man Utd

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  • Man Utd won 1-0 at Old Trafford on Dec. 13
  • United 5-0 after losses this season
  • Man Utd leads all-time 8W-3D-2L

Manchester United looks to get off the mat after a stunning home loss to West Bromwich Albion at the weekend when it visits Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Manchester United rebounded from its previous five losses by a combine score of 10-2.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

This is United’s match-in-hand on chasers Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. The Red Devils’ 71 points betters Liverpool by one and Spurs by three.

Bournemouth would like to finish top half, and enters the day three points back of 10th place Newcastle United despite playing one more match.

What they’re saying

Bournemouth’s Simon Francis on the club mindset“We are in our third season in the Premier League and don’t go into games being too naïve any more. I think you can be a victim of that in your first season because you don’t know what to expect at times.”

Manchester United’s David De Gea on rebounding from WBA loss“It was a tough one to take. It was a real blow and we’re all a bit down. It was such an unexpected defeat. But the good thing is we have got a game coming right up on the back of this defeat. It’s a real chance to lift ourselves and get back to winning ways.”

Prediction

A Red Devils rebound, though a second-tier team just gets over the line in a 2-1 win.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United vs. Stoke City

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  • West Ham won 3-0 at Stoke on Dec. 16
  • Stoke have drawn last three at WHUFC
  • West Ham leads all-time 35W-25D-33L

West Ham United can go a long way toward clinching another season in the Premier League by piling woe on a Stoke City which really needs a win at the London Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Stoke City is six points back of safety, and seven behind West Ham United. The Potters next face Burnley and Liverpool, before finishing with Crystal Palace and Swansea City.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

West Ham has rebounded from three-straight league losses to wallop Southampton and draw Chelsea, while Stoke is winless in nine with just four draws (The Potters have faced a murderer’s row of opponents lately, including Man City, Arsenal, and Spurs amongst their last four).

What they’re saying

West Ham manager David Moyes looks to Marko Arnautovic“The players look to him. He’s got a leadership role which he needs to develop as well for the team and for the club, because he is getting to an age where he has to influence the players around him, so he needs to lead by both his character and his performances, and his performances have done that in many ways. He is vocal in his own way. He has good humour, he’s a character and I’d like him to put that talking about what he can do in training. To get to the very top, he needs to keep his level of training very high.”

Stoke boss Paul Lambert on in-form Mame Biram Diouf“If you look at Mame’s games it’s clear that he gives you everything that he’s got. His work ethic and the way he goes about things is excellent. It’s not just on a match day it’s at the training ground as well. The way he conducts himself is first class and he does everything for the right reasons; the level of his performances has been very, very good. He needs a little bit of help up there as well at certain times but I think his performances have been first class.

Prediction