Key wins for several as business end comes into view

Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling celebrate for City

It was another dramatic weekend in the Premier League with important wins for Manchester City, Liverpool and Wolves in the top half of the table, while Newcastle United’s improvement continued as they further boosted their survival hopes with their third victory on the trot.

Some top-flight clubs have just 13 games left now, so we’re approaching the business end of the campaign and for those with aspirations of silverware, getting into Europe or fighting their way out of trouble, wins are most certainly required.

For the top two, in particular, City (1/10 – Premier League Outright) and Liverpool, continuing to pick up victories is a must with neither side looking like they will be dropping points any time soon.

We could yet be in for a thrilling title race as the Reds (6/1 – PL Outright) are nine points behind with a game in hand after they edged out Burnley on Sunday 1-0. Jurgen Klopp’s men still also have to go to the Etihad so there is a scenario that come April, the gap could be down to just three points – if the duo keep winning.

And certainly City have an air of invincibility about them at the moment. Pep Guardiola’s side made it another comfortable win on Saturday evening when they thrashed Norwich City 4-0 thanks largely to a perfect hat-trick from back-in-form Raheem Sterling (pictured).

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Sticking with things towards the top, Manchester United’s (15/8 – Top Four Finish) stuttering bid for a top-four finish continued as they, again, threw away a 1-0 lead to draw 1-1, this time at home to Southampton. Wolves (14/1 – Top Four Finish) then impressively saw off Spurs 2-0 away on Sunday to suggest they too could yet launch an unexpected bid for a Champions League berth. Bruno Lage’s side are now seventh, four points behind current fourth-placed West Ham with two games in hand, and on a run of five wins from their last seven games.

The grim defeat for Spurs, however, was their third on the spin and left boss Antonio Conte to declare it “impossible” that they can challenge for a top-four place (Spurs – 7/2) if they continue to make basic defensive mistakes. The Hammers (7/1) also missed an opportunity to reassert themselves in the fight for fourth when they let a 1-0 lead slip at Leicester City and only salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw thanks to Michael Dawson’s late equaliser.

So to the bottom. Newcastle (1/7 – To Stay Up) are finally moving in the right direction and eked out another vital win, this time 1-0 over Aston Villa courtesy of a deflected Keiran Trippier free-kick, to leave them four points clear of the drop. The news that Trippier has now broken a bone in his foot and could face several weeks on the sidelines has tempered the optimism around St James’ Park somewhat but there’s no getting away from the fact things are looking considerably brighter for Eddie Howe’s team.

The same can be said of Everton (8/1 – To Be Relegated) after Frank Lampard got his second win from his firs three games in charge when they deservedly saw off Leeds United at Goodison Park 3-0. The Toffees have eased their drop fears and are five points clear of 18th-placed Norwich with two games in hand.

However, it’s looking ominous for Burnley, who are now 4/11 to go down. After flirting with relegation for the past few years, the Clarets appear to be losing their ability to fight their way out of trouble in the second half of the season and the narrow loss to Liverpool, when they again showed good signs but were guilty of missing chances, means they stay bottom of the table, seven points from safety and without a win in their last 11 league games.

It is a similarly bleak story for Watford, who were a distinct second best in a 2-0 defeat to Brighton at Vicarage Road and are still looking for their first goal under Roy Hodgson. The Hornets, 6/4 to finish bottom, are only a point better off than Burnley, having played two games more, while they are now six points from safety.

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Author: Paula Allen