Premier League Preview: Man City and Chelsea do battle in Champions League dress rehearsal
It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
Just a few days after both booked their place in the Champions League final, Manchester City and Chelsea will square up in the Premier League this weekend.
For City, the title is all but secure, but for their visitors, the battle is still very much on for a spot in the top four.
We’ve taken a closer look ahead to this weekend's match and the rest of the Premier League’s upcoming action below...
Leicester City vs Newcastle United – Magpies so close to survival
It may have been hard to envisage this time a couple of months ago, but Newcastle United are nine points clear of danger with just four matches left to play, and look to be all but assured of their Premier League status.
A win against Leicester on Friday night would essentially rubber-stamp their survival, but getting anything at the King Power will be no mean feat, especially given the fact that Brendan Rodgers’ men are still battling to land a spot in the Champions League next term.
Leeds United vs Tottenham – Which Leeds will turn up on Saturday?
Prior to last weekend’s tepid 2-0 defeat against Brighton, Leeds United had gone six game unbeaten.
An impressive run at the top level by any metric, it was a stint made all the more impressive by positive results against Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United.
The accusation, if there is one to be rolled out here, may be that the Whites struggled to then motivate themselves for a clash against lesser opposition.
Of course, anybody associated with the club would vehemently deny any such suggestion, and Marcelo Bielsa is hardly one to let his players coast into a match, but it will be fascinating to see how they get on against another of the Premier League biggest guns.
Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace – Nothing to play for but pride at Bramall Lane
Neither one of these sides can do much to affect their respective fates this term.
Sheffield United are already down, while Palace are idling along in midtable with little danger of going down or bothering the sides above them.
Still, the Blades in particular have pride to play for, and a win here could lift the mood around Bramall Lane as well as giving Paul Heckingbottom’s chances of landing the manager’s job on a full-time basis a welcome boost.
Manchester City vs Chelsea – More than just a Champions League dummy run
Of course, these two sides will be thrashing it out for the most prestigious honour in club football later this month, but before we get to that, we have a very tasty dress rehearsal to look forward to on Saturday evening.
To suggest this is nothing more than a dummy run would be a little wide of the mark though. City might have the title all but wrapped up, but Chelsea are still having to put the work to ensure that they finish in the top four this term.
Expect a fascinating encounter, and no shortage of intensity.
Liverpool vs Southampton – Reds simply must win
When Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived in England, he did so with the moniker ‘The Alpine Klopp’.
There are certainly recognisable similarities between the two men, but if Liverpool don’t win this one then it will be ‘The Actual Klopp’ who is heading downhill faster than an off-piste skier in an avalanche.
The Reds are in dire straits with regards to their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League next term, and anything but a victory in this one would severely dent their chances.
Wolves vs Brighton – Albion looking to finish strongly
Brighton’s win over Leeds United on Saturday not only put them 10 points clear of the relegation zone, but also elevated them to 14th in the table.
That should see them safe this season, and now that the threat of going down is subsiding, perhaps Graham Potter and his men can start to look further up the table.
A win against patchy Wolves would take them to within just two points of Wanderers, and could lift them above biggest rivals Crystal Palace too.
Aston Villa vs Manchester United – Where do United’s priorities lie?
Manchester United secured their place in the Europa League final on Thursday evening with an 8-5 aggregate victory over AS Roma.
The Reds aren’t mathematically assured of a top four finish just yet, but they are in a commanding position, and it begs the question as to whether or not Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players, subconsciously or otherwise, may just shift their focus a little towards the possibility of a major piece of silverware on the horizon.
West Ham vs Everton – Hammers still in Champions League hunt
The confirmation of an all-English Champions League final means that the likelihood is there will be five Premier League sides in the competition next season.
That’s fantastic news for West Ham, who have been there or thereabouts all season, but who now face an uphill battle to usurp Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea side, who currently sit fourth.
Finishing fifth, however, is much more attainable, and beating Everton this weekend would go a long way towards making that aim a reality.
Arsenal vs West Brom – How many more lives does Mikel Arteta have?
Throughout the entirety of Arsenal’s miserable campaign, the one saving grace has been the prospect of a major European trophy that would make it all worthwhile – or at least soften the blow on a domestic level.
Thursday night’s Europa League exit at the hands of Villarreal has put pay to those hopes, however, and now Mikel Arteta has been left grasping at thin air.
Already there are debates over his future in north London, and defeat against West Brom would do little to champion his cause.
Fulham vs Burnley – Clarets can put relegation battle to bed once and for all
Not only can Burnley guarantee their survival with a win over Fulham on Monday night, but they would also leave the Cottagers needing a major miracle to get out of their relegation predicament.
If Sean Dyche’s men beat them in the capital then they would only be able to stay up if they win their remaining three games, and if Newcastle lose their last three – assuming the Magpies don’t pick up anything against Leicester on Friday, of course.
By the final whistle on Monday, it could all be done and dusted.