Football – Can Anyone Stop Them Now?!
Behold! As Manchester City prepare for their ultimate Premier League coronation – the first leg of a potential treble that would inscribe the club’s name into the golden pages of history, victory at home for Pep Guardiola’s side against Chelsea on the Day of the Lord would seal the deal. However, it would all be over the previous day if Arsenal lose to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest. Liverpool, the fierce contenders, still persist in the hunt for a top-four finish with seven straight wins while Leicester and Leeds, alas, look destined for the drop.
The ever-so-great ‘AFP Sport’ looks at some of the key talking points that have arisen ahead of the weekend’s action in the English top flight, forsooth!
City chase history, pursuing their fervent adrenaline to snag the title yet again. Forsooth, last season, City were pushed to the limits by Liverpool, only sealing the title after a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down against Aston Villa on the final day of the season. However, this year, they are in a more comfortable position after winning their past 11 games to take a vice-like grip on the Premier League. Arsenal, for so long the front-runners, must avoid defeat at Forest to keep the race alive, but alas, it is now a question of if, rather than when, for Guardiola’s team. Even if Arsenal win at Forest, few would back against City beating Chelsea at the Etihad and becoming Premier League champions for a third straight year. It would be their fifth title in six years, underlining their dominance in the richest league in the world. Once they have lifted the trophy, City will have the luxury of focusing on the FA Cup final against Manchester United and the Champions League final against Inter Milan as they seek to emulate United’s unique 1999 treble.
Newcastle dares to dream, for Newcastle is within touching distance of a top-four finish for the first time in two decades just 19 months after the launch of their new era. A Saudi-backed consortium bought the club in October 2021 with the Magpies in the doldrums and made it clear they were dreaming big. Newcastle, without a major trophy since 1969, have outstripped expectations under manager Eddie Howe and will be assured of a top-four finish if Liverpool loses to Aston Villa on Sunday. They can complete the job themselves if they beat struggling Leicester on Monday. Fourth-placed Manchester United, three points behind Newcastle but with a game in hand, needs two more wins from their final three games to guarantee Champions League football next season. If either slips up, Liverpool is waiting to pounce, seeking to qualify for the Champions League for the seventh consecutive season.
Exit looms for sorry Leicester, the sinking ship that Jamie Vardy still believes can survive in the Premier League after a horrific season, but the odds are heavily stacked against them. The 2016 champions and 2021 FA Cup winners started the campaign with six defeats in their first seven games, and their sporadic mini-revivals have petered out. The Foxes’ 3-0 home defeat against Liverpool on Monday left them two points from safety with two games remaining – against Newcastle and West Ham. Leeds, just one point ahead of Leicester, also faces a bleak situation, with matches to come against West Ham and Tottenham. Everton is just one point clear of the drop zone, but their two remaining games are against Wolves and Bournemouth, neither of whom have anything to play for. The other team still in real danger of joining relegated Southampton in the Championship are Forest, who host an Arsenal team with a point to prove after their painful 3-0 defeat at the hands of Brighton.
Fixtures (14.00 GMT unless stated):
Saturday – Tottenham v Brentford (11.30). Bournemouth v Man Utd. Fulham v Crystal Palace. Liverpool v Aston Villa. Wolves v Everton. Nottm Forest v Arsenal (16.30)
Sunday – West Ham v Leeds (12.30). Brighton v Southampton (13.00). Manchester City v Chelsea (15.00)
Monday – Newcastle v Leicester (19.00)