5 talking points for the weekend's Premier League action


Leicester will have to cope without suspended star striker Jamie Vardy as they attempt to maintain their five-point lead over Tottenham at the top of the Barclays Premier League, while strugglers Sunderland and Newcastle hope to take advantage of a weekend off for relegation rivals Norwich.

Here are some of the talking points ahead of this weekend's fixtures.

1. Can Manchester City take their Champions League chance?

Sergio Aguero celebrates scoring for Manchester City

With rivals Manchester United in FA Cup action this weekend, Manuel Pellegrini's men face Stoke and have a big opportunity to tighten their grip on fourth place and a Champions League spot for next season. It will be interesting to see, however, if they have one eye on this year's premier European competition with Real Madrid due at the Etihad on Tuesday for the semi-final first leg. Potters boss Mark Hughes will be back at one of his former clubs and hoping for a reaction after Monday night's thumping by Spurs.

2. Are Newcastle going the way of Aston Villa?

Moussa Sissoko playing for Newcastle

Now that Aston Villa's inevitable relegation has been confirmed, attention turns to who will join them. Newcastle have hit a little form with four points from the last six available but has it come too late for Rafael Benitez's team? The second-bottom Magpies sit just two points from safety but will have to leapfrog bitter rivals Sunderland as well as Norwich in order to stay up. Their tricky task continues with a tough trip to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp's Europa League semi-finalists who have lost only once in 17 matches and thrashed Merseyside rivals Everton in midweek.

3. Will Leicester's party continue without Jamie Vardy?

Jamie Vardy gestures to referee Jonathan Moss after being given a second yellow card

With Manchester United, Everton and Chelsea still to come, Swansea at home should represent title-chasing Leicester's most straightforward remaining fixture. But the Foxes will be without 22-goal top-scorer Vardy for the first time in the league this season following his much-scrutinised red card against West Ham and they know in-form Spurs are ready to pounce on any slip-up. The mid-table Swans will attempt to play the part of party-poopers at the King Power Stadium and a positive result for Francesco Guidolin's team could see title momentum move to north London.

4. Opportunity knocks for Sunderland.

Jermain Defoe celebrates scoring for Sunderland

Sam Allardyce's Sunderland will be looking to put themselves in pole position in the race to avoid relegation, as they face Arsenal on Sunday. North-east foes Newcastle trail the Black Cats by a point having also played a game more, while this weekend represents an excellent opportunity for Sunderland to move above Norwich and out of the drop zone, with the Canaries' game against Watford postponed due to the FA Cup semi-finals. Much-criticised Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will feel more confident of securing Champions League football for next season after Thursday's routine win over West Brom but will want his side to increase their lead over the two Manchester clubs with victory on Wearside.

5. Tottenham attempt to close the gap.

Harry Kane celebrates scoring for Tottenham

For the second successive week, Tottenham play a day later than title rivals Leicester and what they would give for a similar outcome to last weekend. Star duo Harry Kane and Dele Alli sparkled in the comprehensive win at Stoke on Monday night after the Foxes dropped two points and lost England striker Vardy to suspension on Sunday. Spurs sit five points behind Claudio Ranieri's team with four games to play and they will fancy their chances again this Monday against a mid-table West Brom team with little to play for.