Premier League questions: Can Tottenham turn up the heat? Will Leicester hold their nerve?
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 02/04/16 6:18pm
The Premier League is back after the international break and the top two sides are in action on Sky Sports as the title race builds up to a tantalising crescendo.
Tottenham travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool in the Saturday Night Football game before Leicester City face Southampton at the King Power Stadium on Super Sunday.
Any slip-ups might allow the chasing pack to close the gap with Arsenal in action against Watford, Manchester City travelling to Bournemouth, West Ham up against Crystal Palace and Manchester United hosting Everton.
With so much at stake, we take a look at 10 questions that could be answered over the weekend.
Chelsea out to put Villa to the sword? (Aston Villa v Chelsea - Saturday, 12.45pm)
Things could not look any bleaker for Aston Villa who are set to be relegated from the top flight for the first time since 1987 after Remi Garde's long-awaited exit was confirmed late on Tuesday evening.
The former Lyon boss won just twice in 20 Premier League games since replacing Tim Sherwood and leaves Villa staring relegation to the second tier in the face.
Caretaker Eric Black will look to motivate an already demoralised group of players for the visit of outgoing champions Chelsea who are lying in mid-table.
With talk of who will take over at Stamford Bridge intensifying, Guus Hiddink will look for a final push and an outside chance of European qualification.
The Blues will be strong favourites to extend their Premier League unbeaten streak under the Dutchman and close the gap to six points on fifth-placed West Ham should results go their way.
Can Stoke maintain their European push? (Stoke City v Swansea - Saturday, 3pm)
The Potters are riding high in eighth position in the table and have lofty ambitions of qualifying for the Europa League, but they will have to do it without goalkeeper Jack Butland who will miss the rest of the season after fracturing an ankle during England's 3-2 friendly win over Germany last weekend.
Mark Hughes' side picked up a much-needed win at Watford last time out following a slump at home to Southampton.
The visitors certainly won't be a pushover with Italian veteran Francesco Guidolin back at the helm following illness and the Swans have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.
They have almost secured their Premier League safety - they are currently on 36 points and 10 clear of the relegation zone - after what has been a difficult season for the Welsh club.
Who will win the basement battle? (Norwich v Newcastle - Saturday, 3pm)
As matches go this weekend, this is massive! A win for Newcastle will drag fourth-from-bottom Norwich back into the relegation mire while victory for the Canaries will give them some breathing space.
The Tynesiders now have 11 players sidelined with injuries after goalkeeper Rob Elliot was ruled out for the season after damaging knee ligaments in Ireland's 2-2 draw with Slovakia.
With the experienced Rafa Benitez at the helm they will hope to build on their 1-1 draw against relegation rivals Sunderland, although he is still waiting to record his first win. Will it come at Carrow Road?
Can Payet inspire the Hammers again? (West Ham v Crystal Palace - Saturday, 3pm)
Fifth-placed West Ham will be looking to continue their top-four push at home to a stumbling Crystal Palace side and will have a red-hot Dimitri Payet back in the side fresh from his return to the France fold.
Payet marked his international recall after almost a year away with a strong showing in Friday's 3-2 win over Netherlands and scored with a swerving 30 yard free-kick in Tuesday's 4-2 victory against Russia.
Now the attacking midfielder will be aiming to extend their Premier League unbeaten run to seven matches with seven remaining after Saturday.
Palace have tumbled from fifth on New Year's Day to 16th and will be desperate to end a run of 13 league matches without a win that has dropped them far too close to the relegation zone.
Will Sunderland earn a vital win? (Sunderland v West Brom - Saturday, 3pm)
The pressure is piling on Sunderland who lie two points from safety behind 17th-placed Norwich with eight games to go. Five of those are at the Stadium of Light where they are guaranteed to have passionate home support behind them.
After a 1-1 draw with rivals Newcastle, Sam Allardyce told his players they needed to win four of their remaining eight matches to stay in the top-flight.
The Black Cats, in their eighth consecutive Premier League campaign, take on mid-table Albion, followed by another home clash against table-topping Leicester and they will pray Jermain Defoe's goals will fire them to safety.
They last recorded a home win against Manchester United in mid-February while West Brom head to the north east still smarting from their loss at home to Norwich before the international break.
Can Arsenal challenge the top two? (Arsenal v Watford - Saturday, 3pm)
A run of just two wins from their last nine games in all competitions has seen the Gunners knocked out of the Champions League last-16 for a sixth successive season and exit the FA Cup in the quarter-final, losing to Watford at the Emirates Stadium.
Their dismal form has severely dented their hopes of ending their 12-year wait for the Premier League title, as they trail leaders Leicester by 11 points with a game in hand.
But they have a quick opportunity for revenge against the Hornets, who have lost their last three top flight games, while Arsene Wenger will hope his side can pick up back-to-back league victories for the first time since mid-February.
Can City get back to winning ways? (Bournemouth v Manchester City - Saturday, 3pm)
In danger of dropping out of the top four, out-of-form City haven't scored in their last three matches and have been short of any creativity.
They currently hold the final Champions League qualification position although they're only one point ahead of West Ham and Manchester United to whom their title hopes virtually evaporated against when they suffered a 1-0 home defeat last time out.
They travel to the south coast looking to find some kind of form before their crunch Champions League quarter-final 1st leg against Paris St-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
The Cherries, who were humbled at Tottenham before the international break, will be aiming to add another prized Premier League scalp to their already burgeoning list.
Will Spurs keep pace at Anfield? (Liverpool v Tottenham - Saturday, 5.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1 HD)
Tottenham will welcome back returning England heroes Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Danny Rose with open arms.
The quartet were all inspirational in Saturday's come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Germany in Berlin.
Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping that his team will win at Liverpool on Saturday which would pile the pressure on Leicester, a day before they play.
After the trip to Anfield, Spurs host Manchester United in what looks to be two pivotal fixtures to their hopes of winning a first league title since 1961.
Liverpool won't be easy pushovers though with Jurgen Klopp's men still in the European hunt and will aim to put a huge dent in Spurs' title ambitions before they travel to Borussia Dortmund in their upcoming Europa League clash.
Can the Foxes win again? (Leicester v Southampton - Sunday, 1.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1 HD)
Qualification to the Champions League for the first time? Almost certainly, especially if the surprise leaders beat Southampton at home on Sunday.
After narrowly escaping relegation last season because of an incredible run of results in the final nine games, Leicester are mounting the most unlikely of title challenges. They are currently five points clear of second-place Tottenham with seven games to go.
Jamie Vardy, who scored his first two goals for England in Saturday's game in Berlin and Tuesday's match against the Netherlands at Wembley, is aiming to get back on the scoresheet after five league games without a goal.
"The (England) goals can only be good for my confidence and I will hopefully be scoring again at the weekend," he said.
The Foxes will be seeking a fourth straight win, but the Saints could prove dangerous opposition and head into the game seeking a hat-trick of Premier League wins.
Will United finish with a flourish? (Manchester United v Everton - Sunday, 4.00pm, live on Sky Sports 1 HD)
United are now just a point off the top four and could set up an FA Cup semi-final against Sunday's opponents should they win their replay against West Ham next week.
They are still on a high following an impressive performance in the Manchester derby which saw local boy Marcus Rashford score the winner.
Rashford, 18, has led the way with five goals in eight appearances, but top scorer Romelu Lukaku has been banging them in for the Toffees.
The 22-year-old has scored 25 goals this season despite the club's disappointing campaign, so this should be a keenly contested battle at Old Trafford.
You can watch Tottenham, Leicester and Manchester United in action on Sky Sports this weekend.
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