Premier League 2013, Week 24 preview and fixtures: Big week for the relegation battle

Alex Livesey

Arsenal-Liverpool and Everton-West Brom are the high-profile matchups, but it’s huge week for the teams at the bottom. The relegation battle is already a mess, but by the end of Wednesday it could be a complete and total disaster.

Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United

VIlla Park; Tuesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

Deux clubs qui ont eu des approches très différentes de la bataille de relégation se rencontrent dans un affrontement qui pourrait alléger un peu la pression. Newcastle peut sembler très familier avec une foule de nouvelles recrues devraient faire leurs débuts, tandis que l'approche semble préférable d'Aston Villa d'essayer de survivre avec l'équipe qu'ils ont sera mis à l'une de ses plus grandes épreuves de la saison.

Prédiction: Unis Nouveauchâteau, 3-1

Queens Park Rangers vs. Manchester City

Loftus Road; Tuesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

QPR had a nice little positive spell going, but being dumped out of the FA Cup by League One MK Dons is a pretty clear sign that there are still a lot of problems at the club. Manchester City has had some difficulty breaking down teams such as Rangers that make themselves difficult to play against, but as of late they've looked every bit as good as one would expect given the talent at their disposal. QPR will need to pull off a(nother) big shock or two if they want to stay in the league, but big shocks are by their very nature unlikely to happen.

Pick: City, 2-0

Stoke City vs. Wigan Athletic

Britannia Stadium; Tuesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

Despite Stoke being very firmly a mid-table side, sporting a negative goal difference and losing three straight by a combined score of 10-1, it never feels like they're going to lose. When they play somewhat under-sized teams that play passing football, it really feels like they're not going to lose, despite the fact that they were swept aside with relative ease by Swansea in their last league game. Stoke is a team that was built to pound sides like Wigan into submission, and when it's working well it's a very unpleasant but undeniably effective approach.

Pick: Stoke, 2-0

Sunderland vs. Swansea City

Stadium of Light; Tuesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

It looked a bit dicey for Sunderland not so long ago, but with five wins in their past ten games they've given themselves a nice cushion and are now within striking distance of the top half. Swansea's pace has cooled ever so slightly and the teams ahead of them have pulled away a bit, but there should be no confusion as to whether or not this is a quality side that's capable of sticking around the Premier League for quite some time. Swans no doubt believe they've got a decent crack at qualifying for Europe, and with a win and some favorable results elsewhere they'll be right back into the mix, but ultimately this is one of those games that will probably be quite good and end up meaning very little in the big picture.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Norwich City vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Carrow Road; Wednesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

The last month or so of Norwich City's season is a prime example of why unexpectedly good starts shouldn't always be taken at face value. Losers of five of their past six and without a win over that stretch (which dates back to December 15th of last year), things went from bad to worse for the Canaries over the weekend as they were knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Luton Town. Things have been going relatively well for Spurs over that same stretch, and their FA Cup loss to Leeds will be salved to some degree by the news that Lewis Holtby will be joining the club in the winter transfer window rather than at the end of the current season. Still, Norwich is certainly capable of pulling the upset (especially at Carrow Road) and with Everton still well within striking distance, Spurs aren't in any position to be dropping points.

Pick: Spurs, 2-1

Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Emirates Stadium; Wednesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

This is clearly the big matchup of the mid-week slate, and though neither club is currently playing up to their historical standards, both are still alive (to some degree) in the race for the Champions League. Both sides have some pretty clearly identifiable flaws, but it's Liverpool that have looked the more convincing of the two in recent weeks. If the Gunners hope to keep their string of Champions League appearances alive, this isn't a game they can afford to not win.

Pick: Liverpool, 2-1

Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion

Goodison Park; Wednesday, 19:45 GMT/2:45 PM ET

In another clash of teams with still valid European ambitions, Everton look to keep pace with Spurs while West Brom will simply be looking to pull themselves out of what could potentially become a pretty serious tailspin. It's been a rough month for the Baggies, with a string of three straight losses only broken by a draw with Aston Villa, which is basically the same as a loss in terms of the shame. A win would certainly do wonders for West Brom's mood, but with the way they've been playing of late combined with Everton's very strong home record, it's tough to see that happening.

Pick: Everton, 2-1

Fulham vs. West Ham United

Craven Cottage; Wednesday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

These two sides are both in a position that appears to be safe, but given how much they've been struggling of late it wouldn't take a whole lot for that to change. West Ham is a genuinely horrible team away from home, but Fulham has looked so unconvincing in recent week that predicting victory doesn't seem especially wise. And no matter what the outcome, it's a fair bet that this is going to be something of a snoozer.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Manchester United vs. Southampton

Old Trafford; Wednesday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

The first meeting between these two sides was one of the best games of the Premier League season. This one probably won't be.

Pick: United, 3-0

Reading vs. Chelsea

Madejski Stadium; Wednesday, 20:00 GMT/3:00 PM ET

No matter what happens, people will be calling for Rafa's head after this game. It is as the seasons.

Pick: Chelsea, 2-1

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