Premier League interrupts Liverpool, Man City's Champions League ambitions

Sports Saturday 30/April/2022 12:27 PM
Premier League interrupts Liverpool, Man City's Champions League ambitions

London: The race for the Premier League title this weekend temporarily interrupts both Liverpool and Manchester City's efforts to produce another all-English Champions League final, as both teams have to set European ambitions aside to focus on the domestic crown.

Both sides will probably make changes ahead of their Champions League semifinal return legs in Spain next week, but City have a slight advantage over Liverpool given they have a longer recovery time and will kick off knowing their rivals' result.

Thursday saw Jurgen Klopp sign a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Anfield until June 2026 and he wants to celebrate that with three points from likely one of the toughest matches in the remaining season.

Liverpool will kick the weekend off away to Newcastle United, whose upturn in form has lifted them from looking to be relegation certainties to ninth in the table.

Newcastle have won their last four league games and morale will be sky-high at St James' Park on Saturday lunchtime for what promises to be a fascinating game.

Manchester City make the short trip across the Pennines to face Leeds United, who have taken three wins and two draws since Jesse Marsch took over as first-team coach. However, Burnley's upturn in form means Leeds are still not safe and they have a tough run at the end of the season.

Pep Guardiola will have Joao Cancelo back after he missed Tuesday's 4-3 Champions League thriller at home to Real Madrid through suspension, and Guardiola would no doubt like to be able to give right-back Kyle Walker some game time ahead of next week's visit to Madrid.

As well as the race for the title, Saturday sees a vital game in the dogfight to avoid relegation as second-from-bottom Watford entertain Burnley.

Consecutive wins over Southampton and Wolves have lifted Burnley out of the bottom three and three points at Vicarage Road against a team that has lost their last ten home games, would take them five points clear of Everton (and possibly also above Leeds) to pile the pressure on the Toffees, who play Chelsea on Sunday.

Chelsea have been erratic in recent matches and Everton coach Frank Lampard needs his players to show the determination they produced in last weekend's 2-0 defeat away to Liverpool to try to take something from the game against the 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 the chance to make a point against his former club.

Meanwhile, Wolves face Brighton and Southampton entertain Crystal Palace in games that don't have much more than pride at stake.

Both Tottenham and Arsenal play on Sunday as they duel it out for a top-four finish. Consecutive wins for Arsenal have lifted them two points clear of their north London rivals and Mikel Arteta will hope that even without Bukayo Saka, who is an injury doubt, his side can take advantage of tired legs at West Ham after their Europa League defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday.

Tottenham meanwhile have to manage their inconsistencies but will also fancy their chances of three points when they entertain Leicester City, who were also in European action on Thursday night.