Paul Merson's predictions: Leicester and Spurs to continue title charge

Paul Merson
Image: Paul Merson is back with his Premier League predictions

Sky Sports' Paul Merson is back to look ahead to another crucial round of Premier League fixtures.

The top four are all in action live on Sky Sports this weekend as the race for the title and the top four hots up.

Leicester will be looking to move a step closer to their first Premier League title when they take on West Ham at the King Power Stadium but defeat could hand Tottenham, who face Stoke at the Britannia on Monday Night Football, the opportunity to close the gap.

Meanwhile, Arsenal will be looking to stay in touch when they take on Crystal Palace on Super Sunday, while Manchester City face Chelsea in a mouthwatering Saturday Night Football clash.

Merse correctly predicted six Premier League outcomes last time out, and also called one perfect score as Southampton beat Newcastle 3-1.

Merson's last predictions

Result Merse's prediction
West Ham 3-3 Arsenal 1-2
Aston Villa 1-2 Bournemouth 0-2
Crystal Palace 1-0 Norwich 2-1
Southampton 3-1 Newcastle 3-1
Swansea 1-0 Chelsea 1-3
Watford 1-1 Eveton 1-2
Man City 2-1 West Brom 2-0
Sunderland 0-2 Leicester 1-1
Liverpool 4-1 Stoke 2-1
Tottenham 3-0 Manchester United 3-1

Read on to see who he is backing this week...

Chelsea v Man City - Saturday Night Football, 5.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

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The gap between Manchester City in fourth and Manchester United in fifth is just five points and I fully expect Louis van Gaal's side to close the gap by the time kick-off comes around at Stamford Bridge. It's a massive game for City.

Eden Hazard is congratulated after scoring in the FA Cup against Manchester City
Image: Merson thinks Chelsea can beat Man City 2-1 at Stamford Bridge

They had a brilliant result in midweek and you have to hand it to them after they reached the Champions League semi-finals, but they cannot take their eye off the ball against Chelsea. It's still a huge ask to win the Champions League so the league is crucial. However, I think Chelsea will win this and blow the top four wide open.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 17/2)

Leicester v West Ham - Super Sunday, 1.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

I was really disappointed in West Ham the other night. I had only really seen highlights of Slaven Bilic's side this season and thought they looked excellent, but having watched the whole game against Man United, they were really poor.

Jamie Vardy of Leicester City celebrates as he scores their second goal
Image: Merson thinks Leicester will have too much for West Ham on Sunday

United put in a very good display at Upton Park but for me, West Ham didn't do enough. They didn't get enough crosses into the box and there is no point playing Andy Carroll if you are not going to get the ball into the penalty area. If you'd have asked me for a prediction on Monday I'd have said I'm not sure, but now I can't see anything but a Leicester win.

However, I still see a twist to come in the title race.

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

Arsenal v Crystal Palace - Super Sunday, 4pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

Arsenal are the best team in the world when the pressure is off. They will win this game because Crystal Palace are now in a position where they can afford to rest players ahead of the FA Cup semi-final.

Alex Iwobi celebrates scoring the 2nd Arsenal goal against Watford
Image: Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park earlier in the campaign

They can lose this game heavily, it won't matter. The manager, the players and the fans will move on to Wembley. Arsenal will win this game.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (Sky Bet odds 7/1)

Stoke v Tottenham - Monday Night Football, 8pm, Sky Sports 1 HD

I never go against Stoke at home. They are a very good team in front of their own fans but for me, Tottenham win. I really fancy an away win. I have been impressed with Spurs; they are a good, good team.

Erik Lamela of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates as he scores their third goal
Image: Merson is backing Tottenham to win at Stoke on Monday

Looking ahead to next season, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Man Utd and Liverpool all need players. Tottenham only need a few fringe players, they don't need players to go straight into the team. I really think they are well up there again next season, one of the favourites.

I'm backing them to win on Monday night.

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

Norwich v Sunderland - Saturday, 12.45pm

Norwich have to make sure they don't lose this game. As long as they don't get beat Alex Neil will be happy, but if they win I think Newcastle are pretty much down. It's as simple as that!

Jeremain Lens of Sunderland and Sebastien Bassong of Norwich City compete for the ball
Image: Norwich host Sunderland in a crucial clash at the bottom of the table

For Sunderland it's a cup final and they have to win it. What score do I go with here? My mate Jeff is a big Sunderland fan so I can't go against him. I'm going for a draw here because Sunderland have been playing well recently. They've not had much luck in my opinion and that's why the results haven't quite gone their way.

They'll get a point here but Jeff won't be happy.

PAUL PREDICTS: 1-1 (Sky Bet odds 5/1)

Everton v Southampton - Saturday, 3pm

It's a tough game to call. It's a weird situation for Everton because they've got an FA Cup semi-final coming up but Roberto Martinez is under some serious pressure. They've got the date at Wembley next week but can't go into that on the back of a defeat - the fans are on his back as it is. Martinez would love to rest some players but I just don't think he can afford to.

Sadio Mane of Southampton and Gareth Barry of Everton compete for the ball
Image: Everton beat Southampton 3-0 earlier in the season

A heavy defeat to Southampton and he will be under severe pressure. It will all come down to how much bottle he has. If he has the courage to rest all the players he needs for next week, then they lose this game 3-1, but if he plays a full-strength side then I see a 2-1 home win. It all comes down to Martinez and I hope he has the bottle to rest all his big guns ahead of the FA Cup semi-final.

I don't envy his situation. Anyway, we'll go for a draw here. All the best!

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

Manchester United v Aston Villa - Saturday, 3pm

Manchester United were outstanding in midweek. They thoroughly deserved their victory at Upton Park. In the first 20 minutes against Tottenham last Sunday I thought they played very well and looked very comfortable. But in the end they lost 3-0 and if you'd just watched the opening you would have been left scratching your head and wondering how that happened!

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Marcus Rashford of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal with Anthony Martial of Manchester United during The
Image: Merse thinks Manchester United can build on their midweek victory by beating Aston Villa

They now have a FA Cup semi-final on the horizon but there will be no resting players from United, who still have a chance of reaching the top four. With Aston Villa the visitors they have a real opportunity to close the gap to Manchester City in fourth and I think they will do it in style.

PAUL PREDICTS: 3-0 (Sky Bet odds 5/1)

Newcastle v Swansea - Saturday, 3pm

No matter what the result is in the early kick-off between Norwich and Sunderland, Newcastle have to win. A Norwich win and a Newcastle defeat will near enough see Rafael Benitez's side down.

Newcastle United's Aleksandar Mitrovic and Jonjo Shelvey celebrate
Image: Newcastle United's clash against Swansea is a must-win, says Merson

If you have watched Newcastle recently defensively they have been atrocious. However, I'm backing Newcastle to win. They have to put everything on the line on Saturday and for me, that will be enough.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds 8/1)

West Brom v Watford - Saturday, 3pm

There have been plenty giving West Brom a bit of stick in recent weeks but I thought they did well against Manchester City. When you look at the sides in the bottom three and you look at West Brom, I think they've done great.

Watford's Spanish manager Quique Sanchez Flores gestures
Image: Watford's Spanish manager Quique Sanchez Flores could rest some of his starts ahead of next week's FA Cup semi-final

On the other hand this is a perfect game for Watford ahead of the FA Cup semi-final. It's a totally different situation to that of Everton. Quique Sanchez Flores can rest every single one of his starting 11 this week and get beat 5-0 and the fans wouldn't care less. They would still clap them off.

Watford have secured their top-flight status and reached the FA Cup semi-final, that's some achievement. For Everton, they have 11 international footballers and a very good team but they are not in the top half. That's the difference.

West Brom win here against a depleted Watford side.

PAUL PREDICTS: 2-0 (Sky Bet odds 17/2)

Bournemouth v Liverpool - Sunday, 1.30pm

After Liverpool's incredible win over Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night they have to concentrate on the Europa League. Liverpool's top-four ambitions are pretty slim when you look at the table. They can still do it but victory over Dortmund put them two games away from a final and potentially three away from a place in next season's Champions League.

Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring his side's third goal of the game
Image: Liverpool's 1-0 win over Bournemouth earlier in the season was Jurgen Klopp's first in charge at Anfield

They could win their next seven league games and still not make the top four. Bournemouth just did enough against Villa and were nothing special, so I still have to back Liverpool for a win.

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

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