Monday 18 May 2015 21:01, UK
With the Premier League entering the business end of the season, we ponder 10 questions ahead of this weekend's fixtures.
Will Saints stop slump? (Southampton v Aston Villa, Saturday, 12:45)
It was only a few months ago that Southampton were being talked about as outsiders for a Champions League place. Now, after three defeats from their last four matches, they are in danger of not even making it into the Europa League.
While Spurs fans may not mind missing out on Thursday night trips across the continent, Saints have not experienced European competition since 2003. A win over Villa could go a long way to ensuring they rectify that.
Will Burnley stop Stoke’s record bid? (Burnley v Stoke, Saturday, 15:00)
While Burnley will go down to the Championship with their heads held high whatever the result at Turf Moor on Saturday, Stoke have their sights set on beating their Premier League high of 50 points achieved last season.
Since their promotion to the top flight in 2007/08, the Potters have made gradual and impressive progress up the division. They moved up to ninth with an impressive 3-0 win over Tottenham last weekend and need just a point to surpass their record haul.
Can Chris Ramsey get home win at final opportunity? (QPR v Newcastle, Saturday, 15:00)
When Chris Ramsey took over the reins at QPR in February he took over a side who were winless on the road and picking up most of their points at Loftus Road.
While he quickly fixed their away-day drought by presiding over a victory at Sunderland, Rangers have not won at home since Ramsey’s arrival.
Their 6-0 thrashing at Manchester City does not exactly inspire confidence that they will turn things around this weekend, but it would give QPR fans something to cheer if they could sign off with a win against Newcastle, who are not yet safe from the dreaded drop.
Can either in-form team secure their survival? (Sunderland v Leicester, Saturday, 15:00)
It may still be labelled as a relegation six-pointer, but, remarkably, Sunderland v Leicester is also a clash between two of the form teams in the Premier League.
The Black Cats have won their last three to edge away from the relegation zone while Leicester look to be almost safe after a remarkable run of six wins from seven matches. Fans of both teams will have one eye on White Hart Lane on Saturday to see how 18th-placed Hull fare against Tottenham.
If the Tigers fail to win, then victory for either Sunderland or Leicester would guarantee their survival, and a draw would even be enough for the Foxes to stay up.
Can Hull take advantage of Spurs slide? (Tottenham v Hull, Saturday, 15:00)
Given their final two fixtures are against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, it is no surprise that the bookies make Hull the odds-on favourites to go down.
Add to that the fact the Tigers have never won a Premier League game in the month of May, and it doesn’t look good for Steve Bruce’s men. On the bright side, they are facing a Spurs team who have won just one of their last six matches and whose desire to finish in the Europa League places has been questioned.
Hull will be desperate to claim a win that will keep them contention heading into the final weekend.
Who will be on their best behaviour? (West Ham v Everton, Saturday, 15:00)
There may not appear to be much to play for on paper when 10th-placed West Ham host 11th-placed Everton at Upton Park on Saturday.
But there is in fact a place in Europe potentially at stake, not for the winner, but for the side who behaves themselves best.
Both teams are competing for a place in the Europa League via the Fair Play table, with West Ham starting the weekend in second place ahead of Everton. Whoever finishes highest will qualify for Europe as table-topping Liverpool are already assured of a place due to their league position.
Will Palace spoil the party (again)? (Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Saturday Night Football, 17:30)
It promises to be an emotional evening at Anfield on Saturday as Steven Gerrard plays his final home match for Liverpool after 17 years with the club. But will an end-of-season clash against Crystal Palace bring back a few unhappy memories as well?
After all, it was only a year ago that Palace wrecked Gerrard’s hopes of winning a first Premier League title with their dramatic late comeback at Selhurst Park. That result left Luis Suarez crying at the final whistle and there are likely to be more tears this weekend whatever the result.
Will Bony get a chance to shine? (Swansea v Manchester City, Super Sunday, 13:30)
When Wilfried Bony swapped Swansea for Manchester City in January he might have been thinking his new team would be fighting for the Premier League title when he returned to the Liberty on the penultimate day of the season.
Instead they are fighting for second place and Bony has gone from the top goalscorer in 2014 to a substitute at City.
He has made just two starts since the move, scored only one goal, and has seen Bafetimbi Gomis do a decent job of stepping into his shoes at Swansea. It seems unlikely that Bony will start in south Wales, given Man City’s recent run of results, but he would surely relish an opportunity to at least get on the scoresheet.
Who will forge ahead in the third/fourth race? (Manchester City v Arsenal, Super Sunday, 16:00)
This clash does hold a certain amount of importance as both sides aim to secure automatic qualification into the Champions League. Arsene Wenger stressed earlier this week that it is ‘crucial’ to finish in the top three and avoid the play-offs and Louis van Gaal is probably just as keen to avoid any extra matches.
The Gunners are favourites to finish above United but they have not won at Old Trafford in the league since September 2006.
Will Chelsea give youth another chance? (West Brom v Chelsea, Monday Night Football, 20:00)
In the week they signed 19-year-old Brazilian Nathan from Atletico Paranaense, Chelsea could give some of their existing youngsters a chance to shine at West Brom on Monday evening.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who won plenty of plaudits for his display against Liverpool last weekend, is likely to feature again and Isaiah Brown, once of West Brom's academy, could also play a part. While the headline news could be Diego Costa returning to the side, it will be interesting to see how the potential stars of the future fare at The Hawthorns.