Top Premier League storylines — Week 19
As Manchester City run away with the Premier League title, we turn our attention to the battles for top-four spots, and places in the PL next season…
When Will Man City lose drop points?
We’re still asking this question, huh? With each passing week and win, it feels more and more like Pep Guardiola’s side has a real, legitimate shot at finishing the season unbeaten. It’s nigh impossible to envisage Man City dropping points in a game anytime soon, let alone losing one. While they’ve outscored their opponents by an eye-popping sum of 53-11 during their current 16-game winning streak (a PL record), they’ve also won their fair share of close games — seven of 16 games were one by one-goal margins. Even when they don’t hammer you for four or five or six goals, they have had to find their way through adversity on a number of occasions, and come out the other side every time. Up next: Bournemouth visit the Etihad Stadium (Watch live, Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).
Top-four credentials on show
Fifth hosts fourth at the Emirates Stadium on Friday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com), as Arsenal seek a bit of revenge for the 4-0 thumping given to them by Liverpool back in August. Despite the gulf in class being so evident on that day, only a single point separates the two sides in the table four months later. The Reds have dominated the Gunners in recent meetings, winning the last three by a combined score of 11-4.
- FULL PREVIEW: Arsenal host Liverpool in massive top-four battle
Pogback — but it’s too late now
Paul Pogba missed Manchester United’s last three games but the (former) world’s most expensive player is back for Saturday’s trip to Leicester City (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com). Alas, he returns with the Red Devils a seemingly insurmountable 11 points behind City. At the very least, one of the world’s most exciting stars is back where he belongs and United can continue growing together as they eye another (perhaps equally futile) title challenge next season.
Unexpected relegation six-pointer
Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion have, for the most part, enjoyed life as mid-table teams for most of the last decade. Suddenly, the Potters and Baggies find themselves facing a five-month relegation battle if things don’t turn around in a hurry. West Brom have already made a managerial change this season (Alan Pardew replaced Tony Pulis last month), and Mark Hughes’ position is looking more and more tenuous with each passing defeat. Saturday’s meeting at the bet365 Stadium (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold) could see either side remain or fall into the relegation zone.
Any hope for Swansea?
It’s tough to conjure up a situation worse than what Swansea are currently going through — bottom of the table, four points adrift of safety, and now manager-less with a still-active player taking charge of the team when a suddenly resurgent Crystal Palace side visits the Liberty Stadium on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports). Recent form favors Eagles over Swans: unbeaten in seven games (three wins), versus one win (and one draw) from their last 10 games, respectively.