Another huge weekend in Premier League as title race hots up

Saturday, 2019-02-09 07:45:19
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Manchester United caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has helped the club remain in contention for a top-four finish. (Photo: Reuters)
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Who said the title race was over in the Premier League? England's top flight continues to surprise ahead of what promises to be another fascinating weekend of football.

Manchester City's midweek win at Everton made possible something that looked very unlikely a week earlier when they lost 2-1 away to Newcastle, but Liverpool's failure to beat Leicester City and West Ham United means that Pep Guardiola's men go into the weekend as league leaders, albeit having played a game more than Liverpool.

They probably won't be top of the pile when they kick off their home game against Chelsea on Sunday, however, as Liverpool have what should be a reasonably straightforward home game against Bournemouth on Saturday.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is probably tired of repeating that his players are not suffering nerves as they look for their first league title since 1990, and has pointed to a long injury list.

He had good news on Thursday as Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Georginio Wijnaldum returned to training and will give him more options on Saturday against a side that beat Chelsea 4-0 just over a week ago.

The weekend kicks off at Craven Cottage, with second from bottom Fulham hosting Manchester United.

Fulham are seven points off safety and are starting to look like a lost cause for Claudio Ranieri, while United travel with nine wins from 10 games under interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

A win for the visitors would lift them into the top four above Chelsea, something which looked virtually impossible two months ago when the team was sliding towards mid-table mediocrity under Jose Mourinho.

The club announced on Friday that defender Phil Jones has signed a new contract with them until 2023.

Arsenal will also look to strengthen their claim for a top-four finish as they visit bottom side Huddersfield who look doomed to relegation, while there is an interesting London derby between Crystal Palace, who still need points to ensure they avoid the drop, and West Ham United, who will travel boosted by their display against Liverpool.

Southampton host Cardiff City in a key relegation battle which would see the home side pull clear of the drop zone if they can claim all three points, while Everton boss Marco Silva desperately needs to see his side improve on recent displays in a tricky trip to Watford.

Brighton & Hove Albion have gone five games without a league win ahead of their game against Burnley, and 120 minutes of FA Cup football on Wednesday won't have done them any favors.

Sunday sees two massive games as Manchester City entertain Chelsea and third-placed Tottenham Hotspur face Leicester City.

Chelsea were the first side to beat Man City this season, but coach Mauricio Sarri has questioned his players' motivation twice after recent defeats. Just how keen they are for a battle will be made very clear in 90 minutes at the Etihad Stadium, as City look to consolidate their title hopes.

Finally, Tottenham know patience is a virtue after making a recent habit of scoring winning goals late on. "Never write Tottenham off", commented midfielder Harry Winks recently, and given that they are only five points off the top of the table, Spurs' title hopes also remain very much alive.

Xinhua