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Paul Merson's predictions: Key weekend in relegation battle?

Merson's Predictions

Who is Paul Merson backing to win in the Premier League this weekend?

The action gets underway on Saturday with Southampton v Chelsea and Tottenham v Manchester City live on Sky Sports, before Newcastle v Arsenal and Manchester United v West Brom on Sunday and West Ham v Stoke on Monday Night Football.

Merson makes his predictions and explains why it could be a crucial weekend in the relegation battle...

Southampton v Chelsea, Saturday from 11.30am, Sky Sports Premier League

This is a must-win game for Southampton. Would they rather win this or the FA Cup semi-final next week? I don't know.

I think Southampton need to have a go and that will allow Chelsea to pick them off.

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It's a nice game for Chelsea as Southampton have to come out and play and aren't going to kick them off the pitch. I don't think they will make it that hard for Chelsea.

Southampton had a great chance to beat Arsenal last weekend after taking the lead but if they don't win this game then they probably need to win two or three of their last five, which is too much.

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PAUL PREDICTS: 1-3 (14/1 with Sky Bet)

Burnley v Leicester, Saturday, 3pm

It's a big game for the Europa League. Burnley just keep winning at the moment and Leicester had a shocking result last week against Newcastle.

A win for Burnley would probably be enough for the Europa League next season which is a feat and a half. They had some difficult games in the middle of the season but weren't getting blown away and were a bit unlucky in some, and then the games against the teams around them and below they have managed to win. If they didn't have that dip they would be above Arsenal.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (9/1 with Sky Bet)

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Matt Lowton says Sean Dyche has been key to Burnley's success and thinks the club would adapt to European football

Crystal Palace v Brighton, Saturday 3pm

Palace have been unlucky in recent weeks and that can't keep happening, they need to finish off games. They should have finished off Bournemouth last week and I think they will get the points this weekend.

I can't see Brighton getting dragged into it. Stoke and Southampton need to win about three of their last six games to catch them - they haven't won three of their last 15! It's a big ask for anyone to catch Brighton and there are a lot of teams between them and the relegation zone. I think they will be alright.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (13/2 with Sky Bet)

Relegation battle analysed
Relegation battle analysed

We look at the reasons to be both optimistic and concerned for those Premier League sides hoping to beat the drop.

Huddersfield v Watford, Saturday, 3pm

Another big match. Southampton and Stoke will be looking at this and hoping Huddersfield lose, but I think they will win and then you have to think they will be safe.

If Southampton and Stoke don't win this weekend then they need to win half of their remaining matches to catch Huddersfield; I can't see that happening.

But if Huddersfield lose they could be in major trouble because they have difficult fixtures to finish the season and you wouldn't expect them getting another point from those games.

Watford's season is over, so Huddersfield have to take advantage, it's great timing for them.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (6/1 with Sky Bet)

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Watch a preview of Saturday's Premier League games

Swansea v Everton, Saturday, 3pm

It's like the third day of a golf Open, it's the moving weekend! Things could really get sorted out.

Are Swansea, Palace and Huddersfield going to have easier games before the end of the season? I don't think so. These are probably their marked games where they have to get three points.

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Swansea defender Federico Fernandez says manager Carlos Carlvahal has brought clear ideas to the club as they try to avoid relegation from the Premier League

It's a cup final for Swansea and I think they will edge it.

Regarding Rooney last weekend, I don't know anybody who is happy coming off. You would rather see him do what he did than being happy as Larry or walking straight into the dressing room. But will he be in the side this weekend? Not sure. Watch this space.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-0 (11/2 with Sky Bet)

Liverpool v Bournemouth, Saturday, 5.30pm

Liverpool are on a high and should win this. They have enough in their squad even if there are some tired legs.

I think they will want to put the top four to bed before they start resting players. You don't want to be in a situation where you don't win the Champions League and you aren't in the top four, then the season is completely gone. If they win this they will still likely to be 10 ahead of Chelsea with four games left and you expect that to be enough, even though Chelsea have a game in hand. It should be next week they start resting players.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (9/1 with Sky Bet)

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Stuart Pearce believes Liverpool should be regarded as the favourites to win the Champions League this season

Tottenham v Manchester City, Saturday from 7pm, Sky Sports Premier League

I don't see how City pick themselves up. They look like they are out on their feet and the last place they want to be going is Tottenham.

They look tired and the manager has also tried to be clever a few times and changed things. Against Liverpool they needed to win by three goals and they had the best attacking right-back in the world playing in a back three. For me Sergio Aguero has to play as well.

Pep Guardiola sides have faded in the last few years. At Bayern Munich he lost in the semi-finals of the Champions League and with Man City last season they had a bad run towards the end. It's alright having the ball all the time but they are passing and moving, which is tiring. A lot of their players have played a lot of matches.

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I think he got the team wrong at Everton the week before they played Liverpool. The team was too strong. The league was done, they should have rested everybody and if they lose then they lose. I think there have been a few bad decisions in the last month or so and that's where it has gone wrong.

They have been great but if they lose this game it has fizzled out a bit and they haven't shown that real grit too many times this season to turn things around.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-1 (18/1 with Sky Bet)

Newcastle v Arsenal, Sunday from 1pm, Sky Sports Premier League

Newcastle have been alright recently. They will give you chances but they will have a go while Arsenal will have had a long trip to Russia on Thursday.

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Arsenal have not been great but they have won games recently, so credit where it is due. After a load of hard fixtures they have had easy fixtures and they have put those teams to bed at home. You can't ask for much more. They have done well considering they were up against it.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2 (12/1 with Sky Bet)

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Manchester United v West Brom, Sunday from 3.30pm, Sky Sports Premier League

What score do you want?! Man Utd don't blow teams away but I think they will here.

West Brom are all-but relegated, Man Utd have just beaten City away, I think Jose Mourinho surely has to let them off the leash here. When he does that they can play.

I hope West Brom put on a show for Darren Moore because I think he has a chance of getting the job if they do well, but I can't see them getting anything from this game.

PAUL PREDICTS: 5-0 (18/1 with Sky Bet)

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West Ham v Stoke, Monday from 7pm, Sky Sports Premier League

It's a cup final for Stoke, a game they have to win to have a chance of staying up.

But I think they are going to lose and they are going to be in major trouble. Marko Arnautovic has looked good recently and could cause problems against his former side.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)

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