Predictions

Local pride

Local pride takes centre stage tonight in this extra midweek of Premier League action. Two massive derbies feature concerning both ends of the table.

 

The headline act is Middlesbrough vs Sunderland with relegation looming for both sides. A win for Boro will give them a slim chance at survival but defeat will all but condemn both teams to the SKY Bet Championship.

 

There is another local derby as Crystal Palace host Tottenham with both needing a win for different reasons.

 

Arsenal vs Leicester complete the line up.

 

Middlesbrough vs Sunderland

 

There is no denying how important this fixture is to both teams. Survival is more important than pride in this Tees Wear derby.

 

In their last home game, Boro showed plenty of fighting spirit in the defeat by Arsenal.

 

If they can gander that spirit again here, expect them to get more for their efforts. One thing that needs improving is their shooting because if can get more clinical in front of goal then a win will be theirs.

 

Sunderland are just awaiting their fate and a defeat will all but confirm their relegation.

 

The Black Cats can’t seem to score and Jermain Defoe has gone eight games without netting a goal.

 

Realistically, Teesside can do the double over their Wearside rivals after winning the reverse fixture back in August.  Unless David Moyes can get his Mackems scoring, it will be the double for Middlesbrough.

 

Prediction: Middlesbrough 2-0 Sunderland

Result: Middlesbrough 1-0 Sunderland

 

Crystal Palace vs Tottenham Hotspur

 

A win for Spurs is absolutely vital, especially if Chelsea lose tonight against Southampton.

 

Crystal Palace are however flying after beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool this month. Another win here will see the Eagles nearly safe.

 

Their record against Spurs is poor having won just three of their 15 Premier League meetings.

 

Mauricio Pochettino’s men haven’t lost in the league since exiting Europe so they will be confident of another win here

 

Victory will see them better their best ever points tally set in 2012-13 with 72 points.

 

Unlike Tottenham, Palace got a defensive crisis so expect the North Londoners to come out on top again in this London derby.

 

Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-3 Tottenham Hotspur

Result: Crystal Palace 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

 

Arsenal vs Leicester City

 

Arsenal come into this fixture off the back of a resurge in form. Leicester will however prove a stern test if the Gunners want a top four finish.

 

Since making the switch to the formation that has guided Chelsea and Spurs to title contention, Arsenal have been unbeatable. With such a huge margin to the top four, defeat here will all but end that target.

 

Leicester might be the underdogs, having not beaten the North Londoners in their last 20 league meetings.

 

Pressure is still mounting on Arsene Wenger and with the North London derby to come, a win here will reduce tensions amongst fans.

 

The only issue that might prevent victory is that the Gunners haven’t won back to back games since January. If there’s one man who can end that stat, its Theo Walcott who has scored in three of his last four against the Foxes.

 

Leicester have been in strong league form after sacking Claudio Ranieri so will be a tough ask.

 

The Foxes carry strong threats in the form of Jamie Vardy and Robert Huth.

 

Vardy has been back to his best since Craig Shakespeare took charge whilst Huth has a tendency to score against London clubs.

 

With a huge match on Sunday, expect Wenger to rest some key players here thus creating an open match.

 

Leicester will attack them as hard as they can but expect Arsenal to scrape through with three precious points.

 

Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 Leicester

Result: Arsenal 1-0 Leicester

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