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It's a crucial weekend in the relegation scrap and here's 5 Premier League talking points

Can Leicester put the ostrich antics behind them and edge closer to safety?

AS CHELSEA EDGED closer to their fourth Premier League crown midweek, the narrative of the four remaining games in the season now revolves around the fight for survival.

It’s sink or swim time for those in or around the red zone and this weekend could prove crucial to the final standings. Here’s five talking points to digest before the action unfolds…

Could Palace spoil the Stamford Bridge party?

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Leicester City v Chelsea - King Power Stadium Didier Drogba has helped fill the void left by the injured Diego Costa Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

After Wednesday’s victory at Leicester, Chelsea are now just three points away from sealing the title and returning to the summit of English football. The Blues aren’t everyone’s favourite side, particularly after the tactics employed against United and Arsenal, but the means justify the ends.

There has been plenty of criticism levelled at Jose Mourinho’s methods but such has been the gulf in class between themselves and the chasing pack, Chelsea have been able to take the foot off the gas of late and coast to glory. Above all, they’ve earned the right to do so.

It’s widely expected they will seal the deal on Sunday when Crystal Palace, who have little but pride to play for, visit the Bridge. Chelsea are unbeaten in the league on home soil this term and they’ll be desperate to wrap things up as quickly as possible in order to embark on a celebratory coronation for the final few games.

Alan Pardew’s side are, however, comfortably clear of the danger zone and will have nothing to lose when they travel across London. Successive home defeats at the hands of West Brom and Hull has derailed the Eagles’ bid to finish inside the top half but they’ll be keen to finish the season strongly and upset another big boy – this time away from home.

Last chance saloon for Burnley

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Burnley v Leicester City - Turf Moor Sean Dyche is under no illusions of the task facing his side but when there's life, there's hope Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Time is running out for Burnley and last week’s loss to Leicester was a hugely damaging result, one which could have sealed their fate. Sean Dyche’s side have fired blanks for much of the season and despite some battling displays, find themselves rooted to the foot of the table and five points off safety.

A trip to Upton Park on Saturday may seem a tough task but West Ham have been in free fall of late – winless in four – as their season has petered out. There is no doubt three points is a must for Burnley in the capital and should they pick-up just their sixth win of the campaign, there may just be life in them yet.

A cursory glance at their remaining fixtures certainly suggests there is an opportunity for them to pull off an escape against all odds. Saturday’s game is followed by clashes with fellow strugglers Hull and Aston Villa with a home fixture against Stoke in between.

They can’t, however, look ahead and defeat this weekend may just be the final nail in Burnley’s coffin. A win though would give them hope.

Sunderland are also in desperate need of points after slipping into the bottom three on the back of Hull’s midweek win over Liverpool. The Black Cats host Southampton on Saturday with their Premier League survival hanging by a thread.

Villa nervously looking over their shoulder

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Aston Villa - Etihad Stadium Jack Grealish has starred for Villa of late but there are still in the thick of it Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

It’s been a good few weeks for Aston Villa as Tim Sherwood has rallied his troops just at the right time but they’re still embroiled in a scrap down the bottom. The FA Cup finalists were perhaps unfortunate not to come away from the Ethiad Stadium with at least a point last time out and they now lie just two points ahead of Sunderland.

Sherwood stressed after their Wembley triumph that the focus must remain on staying in the top-flight but it’s easier said than done. There have been signs of improvement of late but results are all that matter and Villa need a couple more positive ones to ease the pressure.

Roberto Martinez’s inform Everton are the visitors to Villa Park this weekend as they hope to extend their unbeaten run to seven games. The Toffees are on an upward curve after an indifferent first half of the season and are now pushing for a top half finish.

Rodgers needs a strong finish

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Hull City v Liverpool - KC Stadium It's been a difficult few weeks for Liverpool as their Champions League challenge has faded Source: Martin Rickett

It’s been a difficult season for Brendan Rodgers as his Liverpool side have been unable to build on their second placed finish in 2013/14 and now look destined to miss out on Champions League qualification after a brief return to the top table of European football.

Already there is talk of a summer overhaul at Anfield and evidence would suggest there needs to be major changes if the Reds are to challenge for honours next season. Tuesday’s limp defeat at Hull was illustrative of their struggles as they were toothless in attack with Mario Balotelli proving ineffective once again.

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The Italian is not the only arrival who has failed to deliver. There are a host of Rodgers’ signings – Lovren, Moreno and Lambert to name three – that have been off the pace and its showed throughout the campaign.

Liverpool are without a win in three in all competitions and the FA Cup loss to Villa sucked any remaining life out of their season. QPR on the other hand are still fighting for their lives and need to overhaul a four point deficit in as many outings, three of which are away from Loftus Road.

Chris Ramsey’s side have only won once at Anfield but if there was ever a time to play Liverpool then this is certainly it.

The proverbial relegation six-pointer

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - St James' Park There's been disharmony both on and off the field at Newcastle but they can set that right this weekend Source: Richard Sellers

It’s been an interesting, and eventful, few days for Leicester boss Nigel Pearson but all the focus must now be on what happens on the pitch. The weekend’s early kick-off is a relegation six-pointer if there’s ever been one as the Foxes welcome floundering Newcastle the King Power Stadium.

Indeed, Newcastle have a five point cushion but John Carver’s charges have lost seven straight games and if they don’t arrest their slide soon, they’ll find themselves in deep trouble.

Wednesday’s 3-1 reversal to Chelsea apart, Leicester have been flying to give themselves a realistic chance of staying in the Premier League when many felt they were heading straight back down.

For all his press conference and ostrich antics, Pearson has done a remarkable job to turn Leicester’s fortunes around and another win on Saturday would create daylight between themselves and the relegation zone.

It may be stretching it to say both sides’ season could just hinge on this game but a win for either may just be enough when all is said and done.

This weekend’s fixtures:

screenshot.1430490654.73350 Source: www.the42.ie

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