Tuesday 12 December 2017

Who will be in control of the Premier League title race after this weekend?

Brendan Rodgers, left, and Manuel Pellegrini, right, are both hoping to lead their sides to the title
Brendan Rodgers, left, and Manuel Pellegrini, right, are both hoping to lead their sides to the title

Simon Rice

After a week dominated by the Champions League semi-finals the focus returns to domestic matters - and most notably one of the most exciting Premier League title races in recent memory.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are all in contention to take Manchester United's crown and with just seven games involving those teams to come, it looks set to go to the wire.

This weekend will see all three teams in action, one day after the other. Manchester City play on Saturday, Chelsea on Sunday and Liverpool on Monday night.

With unexpected results and dramatic events at nearly every turn in the run-in so far, this weekend promises even more.

But what clues are there to who will be in control come Monday night? We take a look at this weekend's fixtures involving the top three to find out....

SATURDAY

Everton v Manchester City, 5.30pm

The first of the seven matches remaining involving the top three sides will arguably be the most pivotal of them all. Manchester City have three games remaining, but their first one is the only one away from home and sees them take on easily the toughest opponents of the lot. Ironically, those tough opponents are Liverpool's great local rivals Everton.

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Romelu Lukaku has scored four goals so far this season for Everton

The Toffees have slipped up in the race for fourth in recent fixtures - losing to both Crystal Palace and Southampton. However, victory over City will keep their hopes of Champions League football next season alive. Their rivals for the top four, Arsenal, do not play until Sunday, so three points here will ramp up the pressure on the Gunners.

There have been suggestions that Everton fans might rather lose this game than help Liverpool in the bid for the title. Roberto Martinez should have serious concerns if his players look at it the same way. It could just be that on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku could do his parent club a favour.

City should be wary that Everton have won the last four meetings between the sides at Goodison Park. The match-up between the teams earlier this season ended 3-1 in City's favour.

Where to watch it: Live on Sky Sports 1

 

SUNDAY

Chelsea v Norwich, 4pm

Chelsea play the following day and it appears a straight forward assignment for the Blues - although that's what they thought before they played (and lost) against Sunderland in their last home league match.

Norwich will come to Stamford Bridge as desperate as Sunderland were. The Canaries have slipped into the relegation places and with Arsenal in their final game, they need points from somewhere. Might they find them at Chelsea? They haven't beaten the Blues since 1994 and lost 3-1 when they played earlier this season.

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Oscar of Chelsea on the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Chelsea

Chelsea go into the game off the back of Champions League heartbreak. They lost 3-1 to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, but past form suggests they shouldn't suffer a hangover. They've won the last six games following Champions League ties. Having tasted defeat in their last two home games, it's been over a decade since it was three on the bounce. Victory here will take Chelsea top of the table.

Where to watch it: Live on Sky Sports 1

 

MONDAY

Crystal Palace v Liverpool, 8pm

If results go in favour of their rivals, the side many thought were destined for the title before the defeat to Chelsea at Anfield could be third in the table by the time this Monday night fixture comes around.

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Luis Suarez tries to avoid Damien Delaney's tackle at Anfield

Manchester City may have overcome Tony Pulis' side last weekend, but a trip to Selhurst Park is still a daunting one in light of the way the Eagles are finishing the season. That Palace are now safe should work in Liverpool's favour with the home side having little to play for. Brendan Rodgers will hope for a repeat of the result earlier this season in which Liverpool won 3-1. They took a familiar early lead in that match with all three goals for the home side going in inside 38 minutes.

However, Liverpool will be wary of their form on Monday nights. The Reds haven't won a fixture on a Monday for three years, a spell spanning five games.

Where to watch it: Live on Sky Sports 1

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