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# Analysis
Will there be a dramatic twist in the relegation race and more Premier League talking points
Leicester’s freshness could see them move 10 points clear again while Bournemouth inch closer to a remarkable top-10 finish.

A genuine relegation six-pointer at Carrow Road

SAM ALLARDYCE HAS had tough challenges in his career and this is a bit of a throwback.

Fighting relegation was what he had to do in his early years at Bolton though it was different circumstances. With a newly-promoted and unfancied team, there’s always less pressure. Bolton were always the underdogs but kept their heads above water long enough to enable to build a system and finesse it.

That system enabled them to qualify for Europe and Allardyce fine-tuned a reputation before moving on to bigger and better-resourced clubs.

He’s never been relegated and would like to keep it that way. They need wins though and there’s been scant few of those this season. In 2016 alone, they’ve managed just three.

They currently occupy 18th position in the table. Four points ahead are Norwich. The teams meet in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off and the stakes could not be higher. After this, the Canaries have to navigate back-to-back games against Arsenal and Manchester United.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Barclays Premier League - Stadium of Light Richard Sellers Richard Sellers

Sunderland have a game in hand but need to start picking up points. Allardyce was playing mind games on Friday, warning players that it’s all downhill from here if they get relegated.

“Most of the players will never get a better club than this one. With its facilities and supporters they really need to realise what they have here. If they moved on, I don’t think even Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Koné and Jan Kirchhoff would step up from Sunderland.”

It’s now or never for the Magpies

Over the last 10 games, Aston Villa have been the worst top-flight team. No surprises there. But any guesses for the second-worst? Yes, it’s Newcastle. And despite Rafa Benitez arriving on Tyneside, the results have remained the same: poor.

There was a point from the local derby but three other losses have greatly overshadowed things since the Spaniard arrived. What’s been incredibly alarming is they’ve now leaked six goals in their last two games.

Norwich City v Newcastle United - Barclays Premier League - Carrow Road PA WIRE PA WIRE

They’re six points from safety but they can try and take some motivation from the fact that four of their final six games are at home. It should lead to an improvement as they’ve lost just five times at St. James’ from 15 games there.

They face Swansea on Saturday afternoon and they will want to push hard for a top-10 place. They’re currently in 13th but four points from the top half of the table. They also have a boss in Francesco Guidolin who is keen on staying around.

Still, it’s how Newcastle respond to pressure is the key. They need a result. They’re expected to get one on home soil. But you can’t back them. Not even on their manager’s birthday.

Everton could finish the weekend on the cusp of the drop zone

One win from their last seven league games and not even the prospect of a trip to Wembley can encourage Everton fans any longer.

For a while, it looked like they were assured of a top-10 place and then, right at the midway point of the campaign, they went five games without a win and have failed to gain any sort of consistency since.

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League - Goodison Park Empics Sports Photography Ltd. Empics Sports Photography Ltd.

A clash with Southampton at Goodison Park on Saturday begins a pretty frantic few days for the Toffees with the Merseyside derby midweek and then the Cup semi-final with Manchester United three days later.

They’re likely to be without top scorer Romelu Lukaku for the clash with the Saints while there are doubts about Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines and Aaron Lennon. Phil Jagielka is already out, as is Tom Cleverley while James McCarthy is suspended.

The timing is not good for Everton or Martinez. If results go against them this weekend, they could drop as low as 15th.

Leicester’s lack of fixture congestion means they’re likely to go 10 clear again

A penny for the thoughts of Tottenham.

Last weekend, they breathed some life back into the title race but they may very well have to do it all over again on Monday with Leicester hosting West Ham 30 hours beforehand.

Leicester City v Southampton - Barclays Premier League - King Power Stadium Nick Potts Nick Potts

The Hammers are still chasing a European place and are one point behind fourth-placed Manchester United with six games left. But, it’s a perfect fixture for the Foxes.

They haven’t had to worry about extra games and they could relax and prepare for this upcoming assignment while Slaven Bilic’s side were desperately trying to get back into their Cup quarter-final against United on Wednesday evening.

As a result, Leicester have no injuries to worry about. Claudio Ranieri can select the starting XI that’s served him so well this season and who dug in impressively against Sunderland last week.

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Quiet and under-appreciated, the Bournemouth story has been a remarkable one

After 14 games, it looked like the predictions were going to come true. Poor little Bournemouth – the small club with big dreams – were in the relegation zone. And then came three wins in a row. They won at Stamford Bridge. They humiliated Manchester United. Then they headed to the Hawthorns and won in a different way against West Brom.

They repeated the trick in March. They beat Southampton and then scored six times in two games to get the better of Newcastle and Swansea.

Eddie Howe File Photo Andrew Matthews Andrew Matthews

What makes the success of Eddie Howe and his players all the more special is that they don’t have a striker scoring 18 goals for them and keeping them afloat. Their story, in a relatively similar way to Leicester, is about the togetherness and a collective spirit.

Their joint-top scorer is Callum Wilson and he only returned to first-team action last week against Aston Villa after being out since September with injury.

And behind it all isn’t a wily, experienced coach like what’s at the King Power Stadium but a 38-year-old novice.

It may be overshadowed by Leicester’s incredible achievements but it shouldn’t take from a superb debut Premier League season for Bournemouth.

Ahead of their game with Liverpool on Sunday, they’re just three points from the top 10.

Originally published on Friday at 18.00

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