London, April 29: The race for the Premier League title this weekend temporarily puts an end to Liverpool and Manchester City’s efforts to produce another English Champions League final, as both teams must put aside their European ambitions to focus on the domestic crown.
Both teams are likely to make changes ahead of the Champions League semi-final second legs in Spain next week, but City have a slight edge over Liverpool given they have a longer recovery time and will start knowing the result of their rivals.
On Thursday, Jurgen Klopp signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Anfield until June 2026 and he wants to celebrate with three points in one of the toughest games of the remaining season.
Liverpool will start the weekend away from home against Newcastle United, whose better form has taken them from looking certain for relegation to ninth in the table, Xinhua reports.
Newcastle have won their last four league games and morale will be high at St James’ Park on Saturday lunchtime for what promises to be a fascinating match.
Manchester City make the short trip across the Pennines to take on Leeds United, who have posted three wins and two draws since Jesse Marsch took over as first-team manager. However, Burnley’s improving form means Leeds are still not out of the woods and have a difficult run at the end of the season.
Pep Guardiola will have Joao Cancelo back after he missed Tuesday’s thrilling Champions League game 4-3 at home to Real Madrid through suspension, and Guardiola would no doubt wish he could give right-back Kyle Walker something of playing time before next week’s visit to Madrid.
As well as the title race, Saturday sees a vital game in the dogfight to avoid relegation as second-from-bottom Watford entertain Burnley.
Back-to-back wins over Southampton and Wolves have knocked Burnley out of the last three and three points at Vicarage Road against a side that have lost their last ten home games would leave them five points clear of Everton (and possibly above Leeds too). ) to pile the pressure on the Toffees, who play Chelsea on Sunday.
Chelsea have been erratic in recent games and Everton manager Frank Lampard needs his players to show the determination they produced in last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool to try to get something out of the game against them. club that sacked him last season.
Other games on Saturday see Dean Smith return to Villa Park as Norwich City look to delay what looks like an inevitable return to the Championship. Aston Villa have struggled in recent weeks with just one point from a possible 15, giving Smith a chance to make a point against his old club.
Meanwhile, Wolves take on Brighton and Southampton entertain Crystal Palace in matches that have little more than pride on the line.
Both Tottenham and Arsenal play on Sunday as they duel for a top four finish. Arsenal’s back-to-back wins have put them two points clear of their north London rivals and Mikel Arteta hopes that even without Bukayo Saka, who is an injury doubt, his side can take advantage of tired legs at West Ham after their defeat at the Europa League against Eintracht. Frankfurt on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Tottenham have their inconsistencies to manage but will also enjoy their three-point chances when they entertain Leicester City, who were also in European action on Thursday night.