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Premier League title beckons for Leicester if they hold their nerve

Updated on April 10, 2016

Premier League title beckons for Leicester if they hold their nerve

1. Will Leicester pass yet another test at Sunderland?

It has become a question of when, not if, Leicester City will win the Premier League title. They need four wins from their final six matches of the 2015-16 season, and that's only on the proviso that second-placed Tottenham do not drop any points. Yet even despite the impending realisation of their glory, it still doesn't quite feel real. Surely, soon, we'll be jolted from this daydream. But, no, this probably-once-in-a-lifetime feat is happening. Hence, we must collectively be ready to savour such a freak sporting result. This is no time for sneering or ambivalence. Leicester have defied the odds, made the elite look extremely foolish and have captured the imagination of even the most disillusioned 21st century football fan. Hear, hear to that.

Their victory over Southampton last time out was a fourth 1-0 win in a row. They are grinding out of results like title-winning sides gone before. With the pressure clamped hard on their chests, they've found it within their means to still record three points, even if the process doesn't include their early-season gusto. Next up are Sunderland on Sunday, a team in dire need of three points amid the threat of relegation. "I am very calm," Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri said last weekend. Indeed, that steady 64-year-old hand will be imperative in guiding them over the finishing line, for while the trophy is within touching distance, one mere slip will regardless be sensationalised by those hungry for even a whiff of late title drama.

2. Are Tottenham's Premier League title hopes over?

Mauricio Pochettino punching the turf after Tottenham's 1-1 draw at Liverpool was as agonising as it was telling. In isolation, a point at Anfield is rarely a bad outcome, but in Saturday's scenario, knowing that leaders Leicester were playing the next day, these points dropped stung the Spurs coach and his players. His public anguish at the situation arguably provided extra motivation for Leicester after the clear evidence that their chasers were rocked rather than encouraged by rallying for a draw. This weekend, Spurs host Manchester United, who beat them on the opening day of the season by virtue of an own goal, and could be 10 points adrift if the Foxes beat Sunderland in Sunday's early kickoff. United have fourth place in their sights, so Spurs' exacting revenge will unlikely be routine.

3. Can Norwich pull Crystal Palace further into the relegation battle?

Still Crystal Palace's wait for a first Premier League win since Dec. 19 goes on. This damning statistic will be on loop until it is rectified. A 2-2 draw at West Ham is a good result these days, so there are perhaps some positives for manager Alan Pardew to claw upon before playing fellow relegation fodder Norwich City. "Every point in the Premier League is gold dust," Pardew said at Upton Park, and don't Norwich know it. Unlike Palace, the Canaries have recently shown they are playing with the bit between their teeth. A heart-thumping 3-2 win over Newcastle made it seven points from a possible nine for Alex Neil's men. Win at Selhurst Park and they will be level on points with Palace, who do have a game in hand, and more importantly perhaps further from the bottom three.

4. Will Arsenal exact revenge on West Ham United?

Was it any coincidence that Arsenal enjoyed one of their best performances in weeks when the pressure was all but removed? They were excellent in a 4-0 winover Watford, but it's unquestionably too little, too late for the Gunners in the title race. Arsene Wenger is right that Leicester can be caught. Mathematically, they can. But when you consider what is realistic given the Gunners' reliability and the Foxes' position, Wenger is only saying what you'd expect a manager to say. Their focus now must be finishing above rivals Tottenham, who the Gunners have a game in hand on and can go within a point of if they overcome West Ham. That, however, is easier said than done -- as shown by their opening day defeat -- because the Hammers have been terrific, not least Dimitri Payet, whose ability from free kicks continues to amaze. Give away silly fouls at your peril, Arsenal.

5. How far will Aston Villa fall?

You've really got to feel for Aston Villa fans, as their club looks well and truly doomed. Currently without a permanent manager, having parted company with Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde this season, their Championship-bound fate could be confirmed this weekend if they fail to beat Bournemouth and other results do not go their way. Their relegation has felt a long time coming. The major concern is where the 1982 European Cup winners are heading. How will they survive in a fierce Championship? Indeed, who exactly would a top-flight club target from Villa's current squad? They, like in the previous case of Leeds United and currently Bolton Wanderers, look broken. How to fix them should not be down to the fans who continue to pay to watch such bilge week in, week out.


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