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Can Manchester United secure a top-four finish? 8 things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend

Manchester United
(Image credit: PA)

Three teams battle for top-four finish

The midweek results mean we could be in store for a thrilling and dramatic end to the top-four race. Manchester United slipped up at home to West Ham, drawing 1-1 against David Moyes' men, while Chelsea were beaten 5-3 by Liverpool.

Leicester will have been delighted with those outcomes, although they are still outsiders to qualify for the Champions League. The fifth-placed Foxes must beat United at Old Trafford to finish in the top four, whereas Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will book their place in Europe's top competition with a draw.

Since it's impossible for both United and Leicester to take maximum points on Sunday, Chelsea will also qualify if they avoid defeat by Wolves. If Chelsea lose, United are guaranteed a top-four finish and Leicester will join them if they pick up a point. It's all to play for.

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Aston Villa eye great escape as Bournemouth and Watford left to sweat

Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Arsenal means Aston Villa are favourites to finish 17th ahead of Watford and Bournemouth. Dean Smith's side face West Ham on Sunday, when a win will almost certainly keep them in the division, while Watford take on Arsenal and Bournemouth do battle with Everton.

It's been quite the turnaround for Villa, who would surely have been dead and buried had they lost to Crystal Palace the weekend before last. But seven points from the last nine available means their fate is now in their own hands ahead of Sunday's denouement.

Three points at the London Stadium would not necessarily guarantee Villa's survival. Level on points with Watford and with a marginally better goal difference, Smith's side would drop back into the bottom three if the Hornets better their margin of victory by two goals or more. In all likelihood, though, a win at the London Stadium would keep Villa up.

Bournemouth need a minor miracle to finish above the dreaded dotted line: they must beat Everton at Goodison Park and hope that both Villa and Watford are defeated.

Wolves and Tottenham tussle for guaranteed Europa League spot

A 1-0 defeat by Everton on Monday ended Sheffield United's hopes of European football next term. The fight for sixth place is now between Wolves and Tottenham, with the former holding a one-point advantage going into the final day.

Seventh spot will be sufficient for Europa League qualification if Arsenal beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final, but Spurs must climb above Wolves on Sunday if they want to guarantee their place in the competition.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men face a tricky trip to Chelsea, although they have only lost one of their last seven away games. Tottenham, meanwhile, travel across London to face the miserably out-of-form Crystal Palace, and their superior goal difference means a draw will be enough if Wolves lose at Stamford Bridge.

Kevin De Bruyne two assists away from Premier League record

Kevin De Bruyne registered his 19th assist of the season in Manchester City's 4-0 thrashing of Watford in midweek. The brilliant Belgian is now level with Mesut Ozil's haul in 2015/16 and just one behind Thierry Henry's Premier League record of 20 from the 2002/03 campaign.

De Bruyne has enjoyed a magnificent individual campaign even as City have failed to keep pace with champions Liverpool. He's the favourite to win the PFA Player of the Year award ahead of Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk.

De Bruyne has every chance of bettering Henry's tally: City host Norwich, the division's whipping boys, on Sunday. Don't be surprised to see him passing to a team-mate at every opportunity...

Jamie Vardy in pole position to win the Golden Boot

A three-game dry patch after the restart loosened Jamie Vardy's grip on the Golden Boot race, but the Leicester striker soon rediscovered his scoring touch and now looks set to scoop the prize with one game remaining.

Vardy has found the net 23 times this term, putting him two goals clear of Danny Ings, three in advance of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and four above Raheem Sterling and Mohamed Salah.

However, the long-serving Foxes frontman won't be celebrating too much if he finishes as top scorer but his team end the campaign outside the top four.

Sheffield United close in on best league finish for 45 years

As mentioned above, Sheffield United won't be participating in European competition next season. Yet that does not diminish the remarkable achievements of Chris Wilder and his players this term.

The Blades were among the favourites for relegation last summer, but they have spent most of 2019/20 in the top eight. The quality of their football has surprised even their own supporters, and Wilder has deservedly been mentioned as a contender for Manager of the Year.

Victory over Southampton on Sunday would guarantee United an eighth-place finish, which would be their best top-flight placing since they ended the 1974/75 season in ninth.

Crystal Palace and Norwich out to end dismal runs

When the Premier League resumed in the middle of last month, Norwich still had an outside chance of survival. Six points adrift, they nevertheless had five winnable home games remaining.

Yet the Canaries haven't added a single point to their tally since the restart. Defeat by Manchester City on Sunday would make it 10 losses in a row for Daniel Farke's charges.

The situation isn't quite as bleak for Crystal Palace, who secured survival several weeks ago. Yet they too are in dire form, having lost each of their last seven matches going into this weekend's meeting with Tottenham. Both teams will be desperate to stop the rot.

Liverpool will set new club-record points tally with win

Liverpool's 5-3 defeat of Chelsea on Wednesday moved them on to 96 points for the season. Last week's loss to Arsenal ended their chances of beating Manchester City's English top-flight record of 100 points in a campaign, but this Reds team can still make club history by overcoming Newcastle (opens in new tab) on Sunday.

Liverpool's highest Premier League tally came last season, when they amassed 97 points but failed to win the title. Bob Paisley's side registered 68 in 1978/79, but if the present three-points-for-a-win system was in place then they have racked up 98. Klopp's men can better that with victory at St James' Park.

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Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).