LONDON – Manchester City must pick themselves off the floor for the visit of Newcastle in the Premier League after their painful Champions League exit or risk ending the season empty-handed, with Liverpool on the prowl.
Pep Guardiola’s men, reeling after blowing a two-goal lead in the final minute of their semi-final against Real Madrid to lose 6-5 on aggregate, are one point clear of the second-placed Reds but have the disadvantage of playing after their rivals for the second consecutive weekend.
At the other end of the table, Norwich have already been relegated and Watford look certain to follow, with Burnley, Leeds or Everton set to join them in the Championship next season.
AFP Sport looks at some of the key talking points ahead of this weekend’s action.
Manchester City were on course for a treble before Liverpool won last month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Now they have just one trophy to play for.
Jurgen Klopp’s team have the chance to turn the screw on Saturday even though they have a tricky fixture against Tottenham, who are in desperate need of the points as they chase a top-four spot.
Newcastle lost 1-0 to Liverpool last week but that came after four straight wins for Eddie Howe’s revived side, who are now safely in mid-table after their early season woes.
City know the maths is simple — win their remaining four Premier League games and they will be champions for the fourth time in five seasons.
Guardiola is confident his side can shrug off the agony of their European exit but he has no margin for error.
“We need time now, one or two days, but we will rise,” he said. “We have to do it.”
Leeds stare down barrel
Leeds fans might have shrugged off Burnley’s last-gasp comeback win against Watford last weekend but Everton’s shock victory against Chelsea the following day left them sweating.
After a sticky start under new manager Jesse Marsch, who took over from the sacked Marcelo Bielsa at the end of February, Leeds appeared to have turned the corner.
But last week’s 4-0 drubbing by City leaves them in real danger of dropping back down to the Championship after just two seasons in the top flight.
Leeds have 34 points — level with Burnley and just two ahead of Frank Lampard’s Everton, who have a game in hand — with a difficult match at Arsenal on Sunday followed by a home game against Chelsea.
US coach Marsch said he knew the relegation battle would go to the wire when he took the job and believes his team are still up for the fight.
But if results go against them this weekend they could be in the bottom three on Sunday evening.
Golden Boot race
Mohamed Salah remains the heavy favourite to win a third Golden Boot but will be looking anxiously over his shoulder at in-form Son Heung-min and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Egypt forward, with 22 league goals, has only scored twice since netting against Brighton in mid-March even as Liverpool have kept up their relentless quest for an unprecedented quadruple.
Since then South Korea’s Son has scored eight times, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa and two goals against Leicester to take his tally to 19.
Ronaldo, one goal behind Son, has the chance to end a miserable season with Manchester United on a high but the Red Devils have just two games to play while Liverpool and fifth-placed Spurs both have four left.
Salah and Son will likely go head to head at Anfield on Saturday, with personal milestones an added element of spice in a fixture that could prove pivotal for both teams.
Saturday (1400 GMT unless stated)
- Brentford v Southampton, Burnley v Aston Villa, Chelsea v Wolves, Crystal Palace v Watford, Brighton v Manchester United (1630), Liverpool v Tottenham (1845)
Sunday (1300 GMT unless stated)
- Arsenal v Leeds, Leicester v Everton, Norwich v West Ham, Manchester City v Newcastle (1530)