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Premier League Talking Points

Published 29/02/2016

.Claudio Ranieri's Leicester have the chance to steal a march on their title rivals
.Claudio Ranieri's Leicester have the chance to steal a march on their title rivals

The Barclays Premier League hardly pauses for breath with a full midweek programme on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Here, Press Association Sport picks out five of the key talking points as the battle for the title and the fight for survival hots up.

FOXES FIRST UP

Leicester can steal a march at the top as they play 24 hours before all of their title rivals. With Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City not in action until Wednesday, Leicester would apply real pressure by beating West Brom at home on Tuesday night. Albion would appear safe after beating Crystal Palace at the weekend and will present a danger with a willing Saido Berahino back on board, but another Foxes win would definitely leave them top with 10 games left and give Claudio Ranieri's squad increased belief they can really pull off the impossible dream.

LONDON CALLING

Tottenham passed a major test of their character when they came from a goal down to beat Swansea on Sunday. But Spurs face another major hurdle when they make the short trip to West Ham and Hammers fans would love nothing more than putting a dent in their local rivals' title hopes. Arsenal seek to bounce back from their defeat to a patched-up Manchester United side at home to Swansea - and Arsene Wenger will demand a positive response ahead of what will be one of the biggest-ever north London derbies this weekend.

CAN RASHFORD DO A TREBLE?

Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford has provided one of the stories of the season in the past week. No-one outside of Old Trafford had heard of the 18-year-old striker before he was summoned to make a Europa League debut after Anthony Martial dropped out with a hamstring injury. But Rashford scored twice against Danish champions FC Midtjylland and then repeated the feat against Arsenal. Now it is Watford on Wednesday and more Rashford heroics could push closer United closer to the top four and keep manager Louis van Gaal in a job.

STERLING'S RETURN

Judging by the boos ringing around Wembley at the Capital One Cup final on Sunday, Raheem Sterling could be in for a tough time on his first return to Anfield since moving to Manchester City last summer. Sterling will feel the first trophy of his City career has vindicated his wish to leave Liverpool, but doubts remain over the quality of his finishing after some glaring Wembley misses almost cost City the cup. In the bigger picture, City need to get the job done in 90 minutes this time to keep the pressure on top two Leicester and Tottenham.

A LIFE FOR THE BLACK CATS

It is probably difficult to underestimate how big these round of fixtures are for Sam Allardyce's Sunderland. While relegation rivals Newcastle (Stoke, away), Norwich (Chelsea, home) and Swansea (Arsenal, away) will do well to pick up points, the Black Cats entertain a Crystal Palace side who have not won in 10 Premier League games. Win and there is every chance Sunderland will finally escape the bottom three, but lose and the psychological damage could be so great that not even Allardyce's renowned survival skills might work this time.

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