Man City refocuses on pushing for the Premier League title as Leeds sweat



Manchester City must get off the floor for Newcastle’s visit to the Premier League after a painful exit from the Champions League or risk ending the season empty-handed, with Liverpool lurking.

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Pep Guardiola’s men, faltering after losing two goals in the last minute of the semifinal against Real Madrid by losing 6-5 overall, are one point clear of the Reds, but have the disadvantage of playing after their rivals for the second consecutive weekend.

At the other end of the table, Norwich are already relegated and Watford seem confident to follow, with Burnley, Leeds or Everton joining them in the league next season.

AFP Sport examines some of the key points of discussion ahead of this weekend’s action.

Bruised city

Manchester City were in contention for the treble before Liverpool won last month’s FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Now they only have one trophy to play for.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have a chance to turn the screw on Saturday even though they have a tough game against Tottenham, who desperately need points as they chase a spot in the top four.

Newcastle lost 1-0 to Liverpool last week, but it came after four straight wins for Eddie Howe’s reanimated side, who are now safe in mid-table after early-season troubles.

City know the math is simple: win the remaining four Premier League games and be champion for the fourth time in five seasons.

Guardiola is confident that his team can shake off the agony of leaving Europe, but he has no room for error.

“We need time now, a day or two, but we’ll get up,” he said. “We have to do it”.

Leeds stares at the barrel

Leeds fans may have shrugged off Burnley’s last-breath comeback win over Watford last weekend, but Everton’s shocking win over Chelsea the next day made them sweat.

After a difficult start under new manager Jesse Marsch, who took over from the sacked Marcelo Bielsa at the end of February, Leeds seemed to have turned the corner.

But City’s 4-0 last week puts them in serious danger of returning to the league after just two seasons in the top flight.

Leeds have 34 points – on par with Burnley and just two ahead of Frank Lampard’s Everton, who have a game in hand – with a tough game against Arsenal on Sunday followed by a home game against Chelsea.

US manager Marsch said he knew the relegation battle would fail when he took the job and believes his team is still ready for the fight.

But if the results go against them this weekend, they could be in the bottom three on Sunday night.

Race of golden boats

Mohamed Salah remains the favorite for the third Golden Boot, but will look forward to Son Heung-min and Cristiano Ronaldo in form.

The Egyptian striker, with 22 league goals, has only scored two goals since scoring against Brighton in mid-March, although Liverpool have continued their relentless pursuit of an unprecedented quadruple.

South Korean Son has scored eight goals since then, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa and two goals against Leicester, bringing his tally to 19.

Ronaldo, a goal behind Son, has a chance to end a miserable season with Manchester United at the top, but the Red Devils only have two games to play while Liverpool and Spurs, fifth, both have four.

Salah and Son are likely to go head-to-head at Anfield on Saturday, with personal milestones an added spice element in a match that could prove pivotal for both teams.

fixtures

Saturday (1400 GMT if not indicated)

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 if not indicated)

Arsenal v Leeds, Leicester v Everton, Norwich v West Ham, Manchester City v Newcastle (1530)