Manchester City, Liverpool lock horns at the Etihad Stadium
Last season’s top two are both chasing different targets heading into the latter stages of this campaign, with the Citizens seeking to close the gap to league leaders Arsenal and the Reds battling to make the top four.
Man City embark on an important stage in their season as they endeavour to get their hands on the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, and Pep Guardiola‘s side will be keen to pick up from where they left off after putting together a strong run of form before the international break.
The Citizens have won each of their last six games across all competitions. Victories over Liverpool in all competitions have been hard to come by for Man City in recent seasons and they have already lost two of their three meetings against them this season, although a 3-2 EFL Cup fourth-round home win in December ended a five-game winless run against the Reds.
Securing maximum points in the lunchtime kickoff will see the Citizens win four successive Premier League games for the first time this season and put the pressure back on Arsenal when they play host to Leeds United a few hours later.
As they did against Man United in March and Man City earlier this season, Liverpool need to step up for the big occasion on Saturday and put aside their poor away form if they wish to come away with a positive result to boost their top-four hopes.
Chelsea, Aston Villa in mid-table clash
Just when the pressure on Graham Potter‘s shoulders was slowly being lifted, the under-fire Englishman once again felt the full force of fans’ frustrations, as Everton twice came from behind to travel back to Merseyside with a point in the bag.
While hopes of Champions League qualification are surely too far-fetched for Potter’s crop, the consolation prize of Europa League football is a distinct possibility for the Blues, who are now at least unbeaten in four games and have scored at least twice in each of their last three contests.
Inconsistency on their own patch continues to bedevil Chelsea too, as only three of their last nine Premier League home matches has ended in victory, and only 26 top-flight goals have been scored at Stamford Bridge this term – the fewest out of all 20 grounds.
Since the ex-Arsenal boss returned to the Premier League landscape, Villa have scored in all of their 16 competitive matches under Emery.
Consistently troubling opposing defences under Emery, Villa’s sensational scoring run under the Spaniard should not cease at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea have hardly typified consistency.
The visitors entered the international break off the back of a 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at Camp Nou, while Elche suffered a 2-0 defeat at Real Sociedad, which left them rock bottom on 13 points.
Unless something extraordinary happens over the next couple of months, Elche will be playing Segunda Division football during the 2023-24 campaign.
Indeed, a record of two wins, seven draws and 17 defeats from 26 matches has seen the strugglers collect just 13 points, which has left them rooted to the bottom of the table entering the final straight.
Barcelona’s league form this season has been stunning – winning 22, drawing two and losing two of their 26 matches, scoring 49 times and conceding just nine; they have been comfortably the best team in Spain’s top flight this term and are well on course to win the title.
There has again been disappointment in Europe this season, exiting both the Champions League and Europa League, but the Catalan outfit won the Spanish Super Cup in January and are chasing more success in both La Liga and the Copa del Rey, where they are in the semi-finals.
Napoli tipped to fly-over AC Milan
It is a preview of the Champions League quarter-final as Napoli welcome Milan to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Sunday. The hosts are just a few steps away from mathematically sealing the Scudetto and will be keen to do the double over the reigning champions.
For Milan, defeat on Sunday would not only mark their third in four Serie A matches but would also have phycological implications for their upcoming Champions League double-hitter against Napoli. Given that the UEFA competition is the Rossoneri’s last chance of success this season they will be keen to make a statement against the Partenopei on Sunday.
Unfortunately for Stefano Pioli’s side, it is hard to see past a Napoli win this weekend, despite the hosts losing their first game at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona just the other week to Lazio. In spite of this brief blip, Luciano Spalletti’s men have been ruthless at home and are our tip to storm to an easy win.