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Dublin: 10 °C Sunday 31 August, 2014

Who will win today’s Premier League games and why…

Can City seal second spot? Who will take control of the race for Europe? Here’s a look-ahead to today’s games.

All games kick off 3pm Saturday unless stated otherwise.

Man City v West Ham (12.45pm Saturday)

Betting: Man City 2/7 Draw 9/2 West Ham 9/1

With their title hopes extinguished, Manchester City can only hope to sew up second spot in the Premier League as they host West Ham.

City can all but ensure they finish runners-up with three points in the early kick-off, as this – their game in hand – can see them go eight points clear of third-placed Arsenal with four matches remaining.

Sam Allardyce’s West Ham, though, have provided stiff opposition of late – stringing together five matches unbeaten since a 2-0 loss to Chelsea in March.

Their previous three visits to Eastlands have resulted in defeats – although the ground holds good personal memories for striker Carlton Cole, who has scored two of West Ham’s last three goals there.

In the reverse fixture in London this season, West Ham held then-champions City to a 0-0 draw.

Verdict: Man City

Everton v Fulham

Betting: Everton 8/15 Draw 14/5 Fulham 6/1

Doubtful: Everton – Phil Jagielka, Darron Gibson, Victor Anichebe; Fulham – Sascha Riether

Suspended: Fulham – Steve Sidwell

Everton will be aiming to keep their European dream alive when they host Fulham.

David Moyes’ side have failed to win their past two in the league – hence falling out of contention for the UEFA Champions League, and are five points off Tottenham in fifth.

Everton must overhaul Spurs to gain entry into next season’s UEFA Europa League, but with just four games left that appears an unlikely outcome, especially with the London club having a game in hand.

However, it is the only meaningful thing either side has to play for at Goodison Park – with Fulham dwelling in 11th position on 40 points.

Fulham’s history on Merseyside, and against Everton overall, has been poor. The Cottagers last beat their upcoming opponents in September 2009, but have never beaten them in a top-flight fixture away from home. In the Premier League era, Fulham have failed to take even a point from a trip to Everton in 12 visits.

Verdict: Everton

Southampton v West Brom

Betting: Southampton 17/20 Draw 5/2 West Brom 10/3

Doubtful: West Brom – Billy Jones

Suspended: West Brom – Youssef Mulumbu

Southampton will be keen to add to their unbeaten streak when they welcome West Bromwich Albion to St Mary’s.

The Saints have steered away from relegation danger with 12 points in their past six fixtures – including momentous wins over Liverpool and Chelsea – to remain unbeaten since their 2-1 loss to Queens Park Rangers in early March.

They are one point from the magical ’40′ mark that is widely regarded as being the number required to secure safety.

West Brom have failed to win in their past four – including drab draws against Stoke and Newcastle, plus losses to West Ham and Arsenal – but still sit three points clear in eighth spot in the table.

Verdict: Draw

Stoke City v Norwich City

Betting: Stoke 6/5 Draw 21/10 Norwich 13/5

Doubtful: Stoke – Marc Wilson, Matthew Etherington; Norwich – John Ruddy

Stoke City and Norwich City will both be riding when they go head-to-head in the Premier League.

Both sides are fresh from victories in their most recent outings, with Tony Pulis’ men recording a much-needed 2-0 victory against Queens Park Rangers, while Chris Hughton’s side ended a six-match winless run with a 2-1 triumph over Reading.

The three points came in handy for both teams and the winner at the Britannia Stadium will be assured of a spot in the Premier League in 2013-14.

The loser will still likely be a part of the top flight, but they will still have to endure a nervy finish to the season – with only six points separating Stoke from the bottom three, with Norwich one point better off. Adding an extra element of intrigue is the fact 18th-placed Wigan have a game in hand.

Verdict: Draw.

Wigan Athletic v Tottenham Hotspur

Betting: Wigan 13/5 Draw 12/5 Tottenham 21/20

Doubtful: Wigan – Ben Watson; Tottenham – William Gallas

Tottenham Hotspur need all three points from their trip to Wigan to sustain their hopes of Champions League qualification.

Spurs are in fifth place, two points behind third-placed Arsenal in the last automatic Champions League qualification spot, and one point off Chelsea, who are fourth.

Both Tottenham and Chelsea have a game in hand over their London rivals, and Andre Villas-Boas’ side will be keen to take full points from their trip to DW Stadium against a Wigan team who are three points from safety.

Spurs enjoyed an outstanding win in their most recent match, a 3-1 victory at White Hart Lane against Manchester City on Sunday, which was a welcome return to form after a three-match run without a win.

The victory was highlighted by a fine goal from Gareth Bale, who made his first start after recovering from the ankle injury he suffered on Europa League duty against Basel on April 4.

Wigan, meanwhile, have lost their last two matches – 1-0 to Manchester City and 2-0 to West Ham – so Roberto Martinez’s side will be keen to arrest that slide .

Verdict: Spurs

Newcastle v Liverpool (5.30pm Saturday)

Betting: Newcastle 9/5 Draw 23/10 Liverpool 6/4

Doubtful: Newcastle – Fabio Coloccini; Liverpool – Raheem Sterling

Suspended: Liverpool – Luis Suarez

Newcastle and Liverpool will both be keen to shake off some poor late-season form when they clash at St James’ Park in this evening’s late kick-off.

Alan Pardew’s Newcastle side still have a faint chance of being relegated, sitting six points above 18th-placed Wigan, while Liverpool are at long odds to secure Europa League football next term – in seventh place and 10 points behind Tottenham in the qualifying spot with just four games to play.

Newcastle have won just once in their past seven matches in all competitions, and were held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom in their most recent league game.

Similarly, Liverpool have looked like a team with one eye firmly on their end-of-season holidays – drawing their past three games and needing an injury-time equaliser from Luis Suarez to secure a point in a 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Sunday.

The last time the sides met, a second-half goal from Suarez cancelled out Yohan Cabaye’s opener in a 1-1 draw at Anfield in November. But the Uruguyan will unavailable this evening as begins a 10-game ban for his bite on Branislav Ivanovic.

Verdict: Draw

TL;DR: the important bits from the Luis Suarez bite judgement

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