Manchester City and Liverpool clashed in the title battle as Arsenal were aiming for top four bids

Premier League leaders Manchester City and their tireless challengers Liverpool expect to go head-to-head in the title race following this weekend’s games.

In the battle for the top four, Arsenal can deliver a hammer blow to Manchester United’s hopes, while Chelsea cannot avoid another slip against West Ham.

No margin for error

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City will have to hold off one of the best teams ever if they are to beat Liverpool to the title.

Guardiola’s side are one point clear of second-placed Liverpool after both sides won comfortably in the middle of the week.

With six games left, it will likely only take a slip from one of the two teams to decide the enthralling game.

It would be a big surprise if that happened this weekend when City host penultimate place at Watford on Saturday, while Liverpool play fourth to last against Everton in Sunday’s Merseyside derby at Anfield.

Guardiola acknowledged that City will have to win all remaining games to be sure they can lift the trophy, and this is a fitting tribute to the quality of Liverpool’s quadruple pursuers.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (center) in action against Manchester United in Liverpool, Britain on Tuesday. | REUTERS
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (center) in action against Manchester United in Liverpool, Britain on Tuesday. | REUTERS

“Liverpool are one of the best teams in the entire history of football, we are facing one of the best teams ever,” said Guardiola this week.

“They have it all, that’s why being there with them means a lot. The players know this. They have faced them and they know it.

“We have no chance of losing anything, but we have been in this position and played with this pressure.”

A story of two Manchester

Manchester United’s decision to announce the long-awaited appointment of Ajax manager Erik ten Hag as next season’s new manager came just two days after the Dutch manager received a stark reminder of the enormous task he will face at the Old Trafford.

United’s poor performance in Tuesday’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool underscored just how much they have fallen since Alex Ferguson took them to their last Premier League title in 2013.

Languindo in sixth place – 23 points behind Manchester City – United have been reduced to scrapping for a spot in the top four and even that goal could be way beyond that.

United will head to Arsenal on Saturday, trailing both Gunners’ fifth place and Tottenham fourth place by three points.

Defeat to a direct rival for Champions League spots would be a fatal blow for interim boss Ralf Rangnick and his team, who were rocked by the bomb threat received by out-of-shape captain Harry Maguire on Thursday.

Arsenal, behind Tottenham for goal difference, enter the clash strengthened by Wednesday’s 4-2 at Chelsea, a fundamental success that ended the three-game losing streak.

“I told the players, if you want to play in the Champions League, you have to beat the best teams,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

Chelsea need defense

Prior to the 4-1 home defeat to Brentford, Chelsea had won six straight games and showed little sign of being affected by the penalties against Russian owner Roman Abramovich.

But since that unexpected setback, Thomas Tuchel’s team has been mired in an inconsistent spell that threatens to ruin their hopes of an uplifting conclusion to a difficult campaign.

The painful exit of the Champions League quarter-finals against Real Madrid was marked by a 3-1 first leg defeat in which Karim Benzema demolished the cracks in Chelsea’s defense that Brentford had already exposed.

The feel-good factor of a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi-finals quickly faded as Arsenal sacked Stamford Bridge to awaken fears that the Blues might lose a spot in the top four.

Currently five points clear of fifth, Chelsea have conceded 11 goals in three home games and would have plunged into further turmoil if they lost to West Ham on Sunday.

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