There are now just two league games left to go in the Premier League season and after their win over Burnley last weekend, Manchester City seem to have done the hard part, coming through a run of tough fixtures with a series of wins to reclaim top spot in the title race from Liverpool by a single point. The Reds themselves have been in superb form too, winning all their most recent fixtures and we now reach the point of the season where the finish line is very much now in reach.
However, there is an unusual twist in the games this weekend as both Manchester City and Liverpool will be facing teams that are currently being managed by a former manager of Liverpool Football Club. The Reds are in action first on Saturday evening when they make the trip North to face Newcastle United, managed by their former boss, the much-loved Rafael Benitez.
Meanwhile on Monday Night, Manchester City are back in action at the Etihad facing a Leicester City team that appointed ex-Liverpool and former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers as manager midway through the season. A game that is made all the more intriguing seeing as Leicester have already beaten City in the Premier League, as well as holding them in the Carabao Cup (before losing the tie only on penalties).
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Other than that there are more crucial games involving Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United as the battle for fourth spot continues, although given the rate at which these teams have been losing or drawing games over the past few weeks, it seems that somebody will take those Champions League qualification spots in spite of a dismal run of form.
With Cardiff looking even more likely to be relegated, it seems the main focus this weekend will be on things at the top of the table, so that is where we will be focusing our article on today and bringing you our preview and tips on both of these huge games.
Saturday 4th May
Newcastle United v Liverpool (7.45pm)
After a season-long battle against the drop, Newcastle have dug themselves out of the relegation mire and now sit in a rather more mid-table position. Talks are ongoing over Rafa Benitez’s contract at the club but there is no doubt that the Spanish ace has worked wonders once again on a very modest budget imposed by the Newcastle owners.
They have a good record at home of late and beat Manchester City at St James’ Park earlier on this year, City’s last defeat in the Premier League. Now Rafa will put his wits against the club where the Spaniard is still revered as a legend, Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will know that only six points from their last two games will possibly be enough to keep the pressure on City but even then, it may not be enough. Despite this, it has still been an incredible season for the Reds and their away form has been a key part of that.
With Roberto Firmino likely back to full fitness and the return of Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in recent weeks, not to mention Dejan Lovren getting back to something like full fitness, the Reds could be in rude health for once coming into this must-win game, but they will face a Newcastle side determined to ruin their chances of a title.
Nobody has given Newcastle a real thumping this season and I can see Rafa Benitez setting his side up to keep things tight. I think they will do that but that the Reds may just do enough to claim a narrow win to send the title race into the final week.
Full Time Result – The pressure is off Newcastle who are now safe from relegation and it is very much on Liverpool (3/10) and that brings its own pressures, but even so, I think the Reds will do just enough to grab the win, but Rafa won’t make things easy for them.
Correct Score – Newcastle 0-1 Liverpool – 11/2
Anytime Goalscorer – Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 21/20
Monday 6th May
Manchester City v Leicester City (8pm)
City have faced Leicester twice already this season, they first drew in the Carabao Cup, winning the game on penalties and then a few days later, Leicester City beat City 2-1 in the Premier League to inflict one of just four defeats City have endured so far this season (the others coming at home to Crystal Palace and on the road to Newcastle United and Chelsea).
So it is fair to say that Pep Guardiola’s team will have the bit between their teeth for this game especially knowing that depending on Liverpool’s result at Newcastle, a win here could mean they are champions with still one game left to play in the season. A win however would ensure that regardless of Liverpool’s result, they would head into the final game of the season leading by at least a point.
For Leicester City, following on from their 3-0 win over Arsenal last weekend, Brendan Rodgers will be focused on trying to finish as high up the league as possible this season. The Foxes manager has already stated his ambition to take the club back into Europe once again and while that could still happen his season (they are three points behind Wolves in 7th, which may be good enough for a Europa League spot, depending on who wins the FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League) it is more likely that this will be something for Rodgers to aim for next year.
Leicester have already proven their worth against the top six sides. They have drawn at Anfield against Liverpool earlier on this year and have also picked up a win at Chelsea and also beaten Everton on the road. They will certainly not be a pushover, even though City will start as clear and unequivocal favourites.
Full Time Result – It’s hard to back against Manchester City here, even if Leicester are a tough opponent for them, but at 1/8, you are not going to get great value on the bet.
Correct Score – Manchester City 2-0 Leicester City – 8/1
Anytime Goalscorer – Raheem Sterling (Man City) – 4/5