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Premier League: European hopes hang in the balance for Leicester

After a pair of fifth place finishes, the logical next step for Leicester was to reach the top four. However, that has simply not been the case in 2021/22.

Sunday's late Premier League game (16:30) sees two teams that have had roles reversed in the last couple of years, as Leicester City and West Ham go head-to-head.

The Foxes have played in Europe in three of the last six seasons and in the last two campaigns have made it to the Europa League group stages, but Brendan Rodgers is facing the very real prospect of missing out entirely next season, if his team can't put a consistent run of results together.

Leicester are currently 10 points behind seventh-placed Tottenham and are 19/10 to end their poor run with a victory on Sunday, with West Ham available at 13/10 while the draw can be backed at 5/2.

Rodgers needs Foxes inspiration

The 2015/16 Premier League winners have collected just three wins in their last 10 league games and find themselves stuck in 12th, after picking up just one point from a possible nine in their last three fixtures.

Add to that the confidence blow of a heavy FA Cup defeat, a tournament they won last year, at Nottingham Forest and injuries to key figures, such as Jamie Vardy and Jonny Evans, and Leicester need some inspiration from somewhere. However, it is tough to see where it might come from.

Thursday's 2-0 defeat at Liverpool made it three league games without a win for Leicester and one of the major concerns for Rodgers will be the form at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes have won just five of their 11 Premier League home games this term.

Some people have questioned Leicester's lack of involvement in the January transfer window, with the manager recently suggesting that there will be changes in personnel this summer.

Rodgers remains upbeat, though, insisting: "We've still got a few players to come back and that will reinvigorate us. We're a couple of games behind most teams and I'm not overly concerned where we are in the table but, of course, you always want to be moving upwards when you can."

The 49-year-old seems committed to the cause and insisted this week that he retains the board's backing.

That said, he is closing in on his third full year at the helm, usually the time when his magic starts to wear off. If Rodgers can't arrest his team's malaise, he may well be one of those heading to the exit.

Hammers sense Champions League chance

In contrast to Leicester, Sunday's opponents West Ham are still on course for a top-four finish and looking forward to an FA Cup fifth round tie against Southampton.

David Moyes has continued to make progress with the Hammers and they are looking for a seventh away league win this season – only suffering defeats on the road at Wolves, Man City, Arsenal and Man Utd.

The difference between the teams is highlighted by the 14-point gap separating them, with the Hammers seeking a third successive win over the Foxes.

The aggregate score over those three games is 10-3 in favour of West Ham, who won the reverse fixture 4-1 with Michail Antonio grabbing a brace. Antonio was also on the scoresheet when the Hammers won 0-3 at Leicester last season and is 11/8 to score at anytime on Sunday.

Their win at the King Power in 2020/21 felt like a watershed moment for the Hammers and if they could bottle the freedom they've played with over the last 18 months and sell it, Leicester would be at the front of the queue.

Liverpool out to extend Turf Moor run

The day's other three Premier League games all kick off at 15:00, with one of those set to have a big impact at both the top and bottom end of the table as Burnley play host to Liverpool.

Despite Jurgen Klopp insisting to the contrary, the Reds look to be the only team with any hope of catching leaders Manchester City and will go in search of a fifth success at Turf Moor – scoring three goals in each of their last three visits.

Klopp's men, who beat the Clarets 2-0 at Anfield back in August, are 1/4 to take all three points, with Burnley 10/1 and the draw 9/2.

The hosts still have just one league win to their name this season, although they have drawn their last three and conceded just one goal in that run – with clean sheets against Arsenal and Watford.

Sean Dyche's men have shown marked improvement in recent weeks but so have Liverpool. With both having plenty to play for, it could be tight at the Turf.

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Magpies win could be crucial

Another team scrapping away at the wrong end and in need of a home success are Newcastle, who welcome Aston Villa to St James' Park.

Back-to-back wins for Eddie Howe's men have moved them out of the bottom three and they face a Villa team that have won just one of their last five Premier League games.

Allan Saint-Maximin has been outstanding for the Magpies during their recent mini-revival, with the Frenchman scoring in two of the last three home games and the forward is 3/1 to score at anytime on Sunday.

However, it is worth noting that Villa are unbeaten in their last five league meetings with Newcastle, including a 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture.

Newcastle can be backed at 17/10 to grab a third successive victory, with the visitors 13/8 while the draw is available at 23/10.

Wolves hope scoring issues won't hurt against Tottenham

The other top-flight clash on Sunday takes place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, as Spurs and Wolves meet coming off the back of midweek defeats.

Despite being in the European contention, Wolves have scored just 19 times this season and were again left frustrated as they failed to score against Arsenal, despite producing 45 crosses.

Tottenham went down 3-2 at home to Southampton on Wednesday night, with Wolves losing 0-1 to Arsenal at Molineux 24 hours later.

Antonio Conte has seen his side slip off the pace for the top four after suffering back-to-back league defeats, leaving them in seventh and just two points ahead of their opponents, although they do have a game in hand on Wolves.

The visitors, though, have looked better on the road than on home soil of late and head to the capital looking for a fourth straight Premier League away win – after victories at Brighton, Manchester United and Brentford.

Spurs, who are unbeaten in their last three Premier League meetings with Wolves (two wins and a draw), are 7/10 to collect all three points with Bruno Lage's men 9/2 and the draw available to back at 13/5.

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