Premier League preview

Top action from both the peaks and troughs of the Premier League

As the season closes on its meridian zenith, or for the more common amongst you, 'squeaky bum time', clubs in the highest of peaks and lowest of troughs call for a final push that will make or break their respective campaigns.

At the business end of the table, where the great and the good reside, the triumvirate of sides still in the title race have proverbial coupon busting 'bankers' this weekend.

For Manchester United it is a trip to the Midlands to face a Derby side that have sunk so low the club's board have applied for planning permission to turn the Pride Park basement into a therapy centre.

Paul Jewell has the look of a man who went to bed with Naomi Campbell and woke up with Kevin Campbell; each grain of sand an hour in the desert that is relegation.

While Arsenal came of age in seeing off European champions Milan, domestically they have slumped in taking just three points from their last three outings against Birmingham, Aston Villa and Wigan.

Should Arsene Wenger's side surrender a share of the spoils to Middlesbrough at Emirates Stadium, the title pendulum could well swing favourably in United's direction.

The bookies still rank Chelsea as unlikley to steal in on the outside track but Avram Grant's side remain ruthlessly efficient and could yet ensure Fergie and Wenger have to have a sulk-off to determine this season's second place.

A trip to Sunderland should broker a comfortable enough victory but Roy Keane's side are strong on home soil and will not roll over to be tickled as some Black Cats are prone.

On Merseyside, the battle for fourth spot divides a city as Liverpool and Everton compete to appear in the Promised Land that is the UEFA Champions League; with both clubs in electric form of late.

Liverpool have endured a season to forget domestically but in Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard have two world class talents at the peak of their respective powers and it would take a brave man to back Reading to keep them out.

Everton could well trail their rivals by three points by the time they arrive at Craven Cottage on Sunday, to face a Fulham side that need wins, and fast, if they are to have any chance of fending off the drop. Watch it live on Sky Sports 1.

At Fratton Park, two clubs with European aspirations meet on the South Coast as Portsmouth entertain Aston Villa.

Martin O'Neill has all but conceded Villa will need the InterToto Cup if they are to book foreign excursions for next term, while Pompey's FA Cup dreams remain barely burrowed in the tactical helmet that is Harry's head.

West Ham boss Alan Curbishley has spent the past week being woken by a night wind that continues to whisper 'Slaven Bilic' in his sleep but the Hammers board have come out to support the beleaguered boss.

A hat-trick of 4-0 defeats has seen pressure mount on the Upton Park chief and he will be demanding a stark improvement for Blackburn's trip south.

Manchester City have faded badly in the season's final few furlongs and on Sunday they face a Totteham side that could still be punch-drunk from their Uefa Cup elimination to PSV Eindhoven in midweek, in a game that can be watched on Sky Sports 1.

Sunday's remaining fixture is a relegation 'six-pointer' as Wigan play Bolton in a North West derby that promises to have flat caps flagging in excitement, as the Ginger Mourinho takes his troops on a short trip to The JJB.

Individual match previews

Arsenal v Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough have scored seven goals in seven games against London teams this season. Arsenal have scored 26 goals in their last eight Premier League home games against Boro.

Derby v Man Utd

Manchester United have only won two of their six Premier League away trips to Derby, but have never lost. Derby have only failed to score in one of their six home encounters with United.

Liverpool v Reading

This will be the sixth meeting between the sides in the last 17 months after never having played each other before the Royals were promoted to the Premier League. There have been 22 goals in the five previous matches, an average of 4.4 a game.

Portsmouth v Aston Villa

Portsmouth won their first Premier League game against Villa and the match at Villa Park earlier in the season but none of the seven games in between. In the four Premier League meetings between the sides at Fratton Park, both teams have been on the scoresheet in each match.

Sunderland v Chelsea

Chelsea have won their last six Premier League games against Sunderland, scoring exactly two goals in the last four. Sunderland won their first three Premier League home encounters against Chelsea, scoring a total of eight goals in the process.

West Ham v Blackburn

West Ham have a superb home record against Rovers, having won eight of their last nine Premier League matches against the Lancashire side at the Boleyn Ground. The Hammers have scored at least two goals in their last seven home encounters with Rovers.

Sunday's games

Fulham v Everton

This fixture has always produced a home winner in the Premier League. Fulham have six wins at Craven Cottage/Loftus Road and Everton seven at Goodison Park. Everton have only ever managed one Premier League goal away at Fulham.

Man City v Tottenham

Spurs have won five of their last six Premier League trips to Manchester City. The last six league games between the sides have seen Tottenham score exactly two goals, five of those six matches have ended 2-1 to the Lilywhites.

Wigan v Bolton

The first four meetings between these sides back in the 1980s all ended 1-0 (two wins each). Wigan and Bolton have both taken six points from nine derby games this season, the joint-worst record in the North West. Wigan have only ever won four of 16 home North West derbies.