It’s been a long, dramatic and, in many ways exhausting, season, but the end is in sight.
The Premier League’s 20 teams have only a handful of games remaining before the climax a month from now on May 12.
And, after a thrilling week of Champions League action, there are some big games in the English top-flight. Here, we preview Sunday and Monday’s action.
Crystal Palace v Manchester City
Quadruple-chasing City may have Champions League commitments either side of this weekend but they can ill afford a slip-up at this stage in the Premier League title race.
Pep Guardiola’s men have a game in hand on Liverpool but can ramp up the pressure on the Reds by taking three points away from Selhurst Park.
City have been irresistible in the league recently, totting up eight wins on the bounce. They have also kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven league games, further underlining the scale of the task facing Palace.
Crystal Palace v Manchester City Preview, Betting Tips And Enhanced Odds
But Roy Hodgson’s Eagles pulled off one of the shocks of the season when they beat City 3-2 at the Etihad three days before Christmas, a game lit up by Andros Townsend’s spectacular long-range missile.
Palace also held City to a scoreless draw here last season so it’s far from being a foregone conclusion.
Sergio Aguero boasts a strong record against Palace, having been involved in five goals (three goals, two assists) in his last five league games against them.
Liverpool v Chelsea
What a day this could prove to be in the history of Liverpool Football Club. If City drop points against Palace, victory over Chelsea would put the Reds in the driving seat heading into the final four weeks of the season.
If results go against them, though, Jurgen Klopp will require assistance from one of the sides still to face City (Manchester United, for example, on April 24).
And Klopp would perhaps rather face anyone else than Chelsea. The German hasn’t beaten the Blues in each of his last five attempts. One feels he hopes Maurizio Sarri’s squad show signs of fatigue after their Europa League adventure in Prague on Thursday night.
Eden Hazard is expected to be rested once again for Thursday so Liverpool face the prospect of keeping the well-rested Belgian quiet at Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
That, of course, will require defensive vigilance of the highest order. Hazard, who already has two goals against Liverpool this season, has been in scintillating form recently, with three goals and an assist in his last two outings. His devastating solo effort to help dispatch West Ham on Monday would have struck fear into the hearts of Liverpool defenders, even if they do boast the strongest record in the division.
These games are always tight. In fact, the last one to be decided by more than a single goal was Klopp’s first win as Liverpool boss back in October 2015. At this stage, he doesn’t care how it’s done. It’s just about getting it done.
Watford v Arsenal
Whatever happens between now and May 12, it’s been an encouraging first season for Arsenal boss Unai Emery.
The Spaniard has matched the 63 points Arsene Wenger managed to accrue in his final year at the helm with six games to spare.
Now, the objective is to return Champions League football to the club, whether it’s by winning his fourth Europa League or pipping the Gunners’ rivals to fourth place.
Watford v Arsenal match odds*
The same could be said of Javi Gracia, who has exceeded expectations in his first full season in charge of Watford.
The quietly impressive Spaniard has already sealed the Hornets’ first FA Cup final appearance since 1984 and can rubber-stamp a thoroughly satisfying campaign by doing one of the few things that have eluded them; beating a top-six side.
Indeed, Watford’s record against the Premier League’s top half dozen is truly dire. Since returning to the top-flight in 2015, they have taken four points from an available 69 against sides in the top six at the time and have lost the last 14 in a row, including September’s 2-0 reverse at Arsenal.
Whereas Wolves, who they beat to reach the cup final, have relished meetings with the country’s biggest clubs, it is a black mark against Watford.
Riding high after their cup heroics, they can put that right by downing the Gunners at Vicarage Road.
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