Leaders Manchester City face a tantalising showdown with title rivals Liverpool in the pick of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Elsewhere, Chelsea will bid to end another turbulent week on a high, while lowly Everton are among a handful of relegation-threatened sides scrapping for points.
Here, the PA news agency picks out some of the main top-flight talking points.
Many declared the title race over months ago when Manchester City were a staggering 11 points clear of Liverpool. Even the most optimistic Reds fan is unlikely to have envisaged the current state of play. Jurgen Klopp’s men have won a remarkable 10 league games in a row and have genuine prospects of an unprecedented quadruple. They now sit just a single point behind City – and hold a superior goal difference. Pep Guardiola’s team are slight favourites going into Sunday’s mouthwatering clash and have history on their side. City have lost only one of their previous 12 top-flight encounters with Liverpool at Etihad Stadium.
Much of the recent focus at Chelsea has been on off-the-field matters due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding the club’s ownership. Yet turmoil has transferred on to the pitch during a chaotic seven days. Thomas Tuchel’s side suffered a shock 4-1 thrashing at home to west London rivals Brentford last weekend and sit on the verge of Champions League elimination following Wednesday evening’s 3-1 quarter-final first-leg humbling at the hands of Real Madrid. The Blues’ European salvage operation takes place at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. Before then, they must ensure their tight grip on a top-four spot does not loosen at Southampton on Saturday.
Toffees in sticky situation
Everton are in danger of dropping into the relegation zone for the first time this season. Seven defeats from nine top-flight games since the appointment of Frank Lampard has left the beleaguered Merseyside club just a point and a place above the bottom three. Fellow strugglers Burnley were the latest side to defeat the Toffees – winning 3-2 at Turf Moor on Wednesday – and have gained seven points on their rivals during Lampard’s short reign. Top-four hopefuls Manchester United are the visitors to Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime. Another loss for the hosts could make a precarious position slightly more perilous.
Big games at the bottom
Pressure on Everton is perhaps intensified by the fact that some of their rivals for survival are guaranteed to pick up points over the next couple of days. Second-bottom Watford – just three points below the Toffees – have a chance to rein in improving Leeds when the clubs meet on Saturday afternoon at Vicarage Road. On the other hand, victory for the 16th-placed West Yorkshire visitors could open up a significant gap to the bottom four. There is then a major clash on Sunday. Depending on the result at Goodison, Burnley could escape the bottom three for the first time since September. The Clarets travel to rock-bottom Norwich, who are now firmly in ‘last chance saloon’ territory.
London rivals seeking to capital-ise
Aside from seventh-placed Manchester United, a tense battle for the top four is very much centred on the capital. Behind Chelsea, Tottenham currently occupy the final Champions League place – above Arsenal on goal difference, albeit having played a game more. The Gunners – reeling from a 3-0 thumping at Crystal Palace – have a chance to leapfrog their great rivals at home to goal-shy Brighton on Saturday, before Spurs face Aston Villa in the evening kick-off. While the two north London clubs control their own destinies due to the small matter of next month’s derby, sixth-placed West Ham are reliant on slip ups. The Europa League quarter-finalists visit Brentford on Sunday.