Top Premier League storylines: Week 30
After a crazy week in European play that saw Manchester United come back to beat PSG, Tottenham defeat Dortmund, Man City win a wild one against Schalke, Arsenal fall to Stade Rennais, and Chelsea hammer FC Salzburg, the teams return to league action in the English top flight.
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The Premier League title race returns to focus as Manchester City has taken control with Liverpool slipping in form. While the Reds lick their wounds, the teams at the bottom also face a perilous home stretch of the season.
Below are a look at the top five storylines ahead of this weekend.
Champions League spot on the line at the Emirates
Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET: Arsenal v. Manchester United – NBC [ STREAM ]
While much of the focus the last few weeks has been the race at the top of the table, the battle for the final Champions League place has been just as fierce, and there is a critical matchup in that contest on Sunday. Manchester United, on the backs of its improbable escape midweek in Champions League play, takes on Arsenal at the Emirates with any potential winner claiming the advantage in the struggle for fourth. The visitors currently hold just a one-point lead, so victory by either side would change the course of the season’s final two months.
Man City can tighten Premier League control
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET: Manchester City v. Watford – NBC [ STREAM ]
After taking a one-point lead atop the Premier League table and meandering to a 3-2 victory over Schalke in Champions League play midweek, City now hosts Watford at the Etihad looking to strengthen its hold at the league summit. It will be a tough test against a Hornets side that has won four of its last five. Without Fernandinho, Manchester City will have to earn all three points to avoid remaining vulnerable to a quick stay at the top.
Pochettino returns to St. Mary’s... in the stands
Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Southampton v. Tottenham Hotspur – NBCSN [ STREAM ]
The Spurs boss has two wins and two draws at St. Mary’s since joining Tottenham from Southampton in 2014, but this time he will be forced to look on from the crowd after being handed a two-match touchline ban for his clash with the referee last time out against Burnley. While Spurs now are out of the title race, they must focus on fending off Manchester United and Arsenal below them or risk finding themselves on the less desirable end of one of the more notable Premier League collapses in recent memory.
Southampton, meanwhile, continues to battle relegation and will be motivated to earn a shock result for the home fans as they sit just two points above the drop in 17th. After nearly pulling off a result against Manchester United last time out, Southampton is not to be taken lightly by their former boss.
Liverpool clinging to title hopes
Sunday, 7 a.m. ET: Liverpool v. Burnley – NBCSN [ STREAM ]
The Reds may have fallen out of the lead, but just a point back of an injury-riddled Manchester City, the race is far from over. Facing a Burnley team that’s tasted two defeats in a row, Liverpool can meet the perfect opportunity to get back on track. The Reds saw a 10-point gap at the top closed after dropping points in three of their last five league matches, facing an inconsistency that plagued them last season as well. Any more dropped points against a vulnerable Man City squad could see the window of opportunity close as Pep Guardiola tightens his grip around the trophy.
Everton looks to return to form
Saturday, 10 a.m. ET: Newcastle United v. Everton – CNBC [ STREAM ]
The Toffees have just one win in their last five and visit a surging Newcastle side that has pulled itself away from the drop in another second half Rafa Benitez masterclass. The Magpies fell to West Ham on the road last time out, but have won their last four home matches to leap into 14th, six points above the relegation zone. As Everton flirts with a bottom-half table position, the 10th-placed Toffees must regain their form in a hostile environment.