Liverpool, Man City face defining moment in title race

Liverpool host Manchester City in a defining moment in the Premier League title race as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola conclude their top-flight rivalry on Sunday. BSS

Free-scoring Arsenal can go top for at least a day when they host Brentford, while Aston Villa face Tottenham in a vital showdown in the battle for a top-four finish.

AFP Sport looks at three talking points ahead of the weekend’s action:

One more sleepless night for Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola faces one last sleepless night as he wrestles with the problems posed by his great rival Jurgen Klopp.

Klopp’s bombshell revelation that he will quit as Liverpool manager at the end of this season has given extra gravitas to Sunday’s crucial clash with City at Anfield.

Although Guardiola has won five of the last six Premier League crowns, Klopp has been a constant thorn in his side, with Liverpool’s 2020 title the only break in City’s dynastic reign.

Guardiola revealed the depth of his respect for Klopp when he admitted the German’s departure would make it easier for him to relax before meetings with Liverpool.

“I will sleep better. The games against Liverpool have almost been a nightmare,” said Guardiola, whose second placed team are one point behind leaders Liverpool with 11 games remaining.

Although Klopp and Guardiola also faced off during spells with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively, their time in the Premier League elevated their battle for supremacy to new heights.

The pair have met 15 times in the Premier League since 2016, with Klopp earning four victories and Guardiola claiming five wins.

However, beating Liverpool at Anfield in front of a crowd is one of the few feats still to elude Guardiola as City boss.

The English champions only victory away to Liverpool since 2003 came behind closed doors three years ago.

With so much at stake this weekend, Guardiola will have been shifting restlessly under his duvet this week as he plots one more memorable moment at Klopp’s expense.

Arsenal have no margin for error

Declan Rice has warned Arsenal they have no margin for error in the chase to win a first Premier League title since 2004.

After finishing 2023 with damaging defeats against West Ham and Fulham, Mikel Arteta’s men have responded with seven successive league victories.

Sheffield United were crushed 6-0 at Bramall Lane on Monday, moving Mikel Arteta’s third placed side back within two points of Liverpool.

With Liverpool and City meeting on Sunday, Arsenal can temporarily seize pole position if they beat Brentford at the Emirates Stadium 24 hours earlier.

“It has been a hell of a comeback since the Christmas period, when we lost two in a row,” Arsenal midfielder Rice said.

“But it is the Premier League, you need to be on it every single game. You can’t have any slip-ups.

“If you look at the two other teams at the top, they don’t look like they are going to slip up anytime soon.”

Villa fuelled by European dreams

Aston Villa face top four rivals Tottenham on Sunday bidding to take a huge step towards playing in the Champions League for the first time in 41 years.

Villa’s unexpectedly impressive campaign has raised hopes of a return to Europe’s elite club competition, a level they last played at as holders in 1982-83 after Tony Barton’s team won the tournament the previous year.

Over four decades later, Unai Emery’s fourth-placed side are five points ahead of Tottenham in fifth and a victory at Villa Park would put them firmly on track to finish in the top four.

“The Premier League is 38 matches and we are now in the fourth position and it is a very good opportunity to try to compete,” Emery said.

“If we want to raise our levels, playing important games, it is important to play matches like this week.”


Saturday (1500 GMT unless stated)

Manchester United v Everton (1230), Bournemouth v Sheffield United, Crystal Palace v Luton, Wolves v Fulham, Arsenal v Brentford (1730)

Sunday (1400 GMT unless stated)

Aston Villa v Tottenham (1300), Brighton v Nottingham Forest, West Ham v Burnley, Liverpool v Manchester City (1545)


Chelsea v Newcastle (2000)

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