West Ham need to win this game. There are no two ways about it.
They sit perilously close to the drop zone after picking up just one point from their last four games and a quick glance at their upcoming fixtures highlights the significance of claiming three points on Saturday.
West Ham will face Chelsea, Arsenal, Wolves, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham in their next seven league games and should they fail to beat Brighton on Saturday, relegation would look a near certainty.
For their part, Brighton have wobbled in the new year and are now looking nervously over their shoulder. They sit just two points ahead of the Hammers and have collected just two points in their last four games – a run of results that has precipitated their slide down the Premier League table.
Yet, their fixture list is far kinder than that of West Ham and they don’t need to win this game as badly as their opponents. It should just about make for a home win.
Watford have stalled somewhat in recent weeks following a superb run of results over Christmas and have slipped back into the bottom three as a result.
Recent defeats against Aston Villa and Tranmere will not have inspired confidence and Nigel Pearson’s men could do with a win on Saturday to hoist themselves out of the bottom three.
Their FA Cup elimination was probably a blessing in disguise as it gave them a much-needed break following a hectic period of three games in five days. Had they beaten Tranmere, it would have been four games in eight days. Everton, meanwhile, have had a lot of time to ponder their spectacular collapse at home to Newcastle last week.
For the most part, Everton have been solid if unspectacular since Carlo Ancelotti took the reins so that utter capitulation will not sit well with either the Everton faithful nor the players.
It does not do well to dwell on this kind of thing, however, and Everton will look to bounce back immediately.
They have only lost once in the league under Ancelotti – in a narrow defeat to Manchester City – and they will hope to continue that mildly impressive record on Saturday afternoon.
It all points towards a stalemate.
Things are starting to look bleak for Norwich.
They may only be six points adrift of safety, but they have a difficult run of games in-store and simply can’t seem to string a run of results together.
They were by far the better team at Tottenham last week but still fell short in a 2-1 defeat and they have picked up just one point on the road in their last five.
Newcastle, on the other hand, have bounced back from a bumpy spell over Christmas to all but secure their Premier League status by virtue of three injury-time goals in their last two games.
Steve Bruce’s side were heading for a point out of their last six but have somehow managed to come away with four and they now sit seven points clear of the bottom three.
It is a far cry from the return fixture against Norwich at the beginning of the season when a Teemu Pukki hattrick sent Norwich on their way to an easy victory and seemed to signal the end of Newcastle’s three-year stint in the Premier League.
Newcastle should win on Saturday and come full circle.
*All odds correct at time of publication