Preview: Man City vs Chelsea, Champions League dress rehearsal with title at stake


LONDON, May 7 (Xinhua) — Manchester City host Chelsea this week in what is both a dress rehearsal of the Champions League final they will play later this month and also a repeat of the FA Cup semifinal that Chelsea won in April.

To add even more interest to the game, Manchester City will be crowned as this season’s Premier League champions if they can beat Thomas Tuchel’s side, who again showed their progress under the German with their midweek demolition of Real Madrid in the Champions League.

With City holding a comfortable lead at the top of the table, coach Pep Guardiola may be tempted to keep some of his cards for the final close to his chest and continue with squad rotations, but even so, the entry of players such as Sergio Aguero, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy into his side is hardly a significant drop in quality.

The weekend kicks off on Friday night with a big match for third place Leicester City, looking for three points to lift them closer to assuring a top-four finish. Newcastle United visit the King Power Stadium to start a hectic period for Leicester, who will play Manchester United and Chelsea in their next league games, before facing Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Points in the bag now would be a huge boost to Brendan Rodgers’ side.

Recent results under stand-in coach Ryan Mason have given Tottenham the chance of qualifying for Europe and their visit to play Leeds United is vital if they are to keep the pressure on West Ham and Chelsea.

Dele Alli has returned to the starting 11 under Mason and it will be interesting if the 25-year-old former England international can return to being the decisive player he once was.

Liverpool kick off their home game against Southampton two points behind Tottenham, but with a game in hand and this looks like a must-win game for Jurgen Klopp’s men, who should at least be well-rested after fan protests led to the postponement of last weekend’s game at Old Trafford.

Saturday also sees a relatively meaningless match between Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.

Manchester United qualified for the Europa League final on Thursday night and travel to Aston Villa on Sunday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs his side to defend better than they did on Thursday when they lost 3-2 on the night. Defeat in Birmingham for United would also crown Manchester City as champions, no matter what happens at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

West Ham kept up their push for Europe with a 2-1 win over Burnley last Monday and more of the same would be welcome when they entertain an Everton side that is clinging to the shirttails of the race for Europe.

A win for Brighton away to Wolves would end their relegation worries for another season, while defeat for West Brom away to Arsenal would condemn Sam Allardyce to the first relegation of his long career.

An Arsenal win is by no means assured, however, as their Europa League exit to Villarreal showed once again that Mikel Arteta’s side offers more style than substance and sometimes they also lack style.

Fulham visit Burnley on Monday knowing anything other than a win would see them relegated for the second time in three years. Enditem


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