By Neil Leverett and Niall Clarke
- Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur meet for the second time in four days, after their midweek Champions League epic
- Cardiff City eye climbing out of the bottom three versus title chasing Liverpool at the Cardiff City Stadium
- Wolverhampton host Arsenal, with the Gunners looking to win a second away game on the bounce
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – After their midweek European classic in the UEFA Champions League, can Manchester City exact league revenge against Tottenham in game of the week?
-Premier League Kits-
Game of the Week: Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 12:30)
Niall: For the second time in less than a week, Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium, though part two will be under much different circumstances. Wednesday night’s classic will go down as one of the greatest European games ever. It was packed full of goals, drama and all the emotions you can think of.
The Citizens will no doubt be out looking for revenge against the side that dumped them out of the Champions League in midweek. That game was indeed a classic, but both sides will want to tighten up at the back for this one. Uncharacteristic mistakes were at the forefront, and if the games ends up in a firefight again you would back the home side to have too much go forward.
City have the tougher run in than Liverpool on paper as after this game they have a trip to Old Trafford to worry about. Dropped points can not be afforded with the Reds looking strong towards the back end of the season, so the Champions will need to bounce back quickly from their Champions League exit.
Spurs have a lot to fight for themselves though. Top four is far from a guarantee and a loss could see Tottenham leapfrogged by Arsenal and Chelsea. They will be on a high after making the semi finals of the Champions League, but will they have a hangover on Saturday? They conceded four that day and a repeat will no doubt see them lose this match.
I do doubt that we will see a repeat of the mid-week classic, but this should be an entertaining clash none the less. Both managers will make changes to adapt and tighten things up at the back, but will it be enough to keep both sides out? Spurs have shown they have what it takes to defeat the Citizens, but with key players injured I think City will be too strong and determined to avenge their defeat.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Neil: One could forgive both teams if there are a number of tired legs on the field in Manchester here, after Wednesday night’s modern classic UEFA Champions League encounter. After seven goals and 90 pulsating and relentless minutes, this might well be a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show.
City however, have a job do. With the quadruple gone, the battle for the Premier League heats up further and with Liverpool traveling to a buoyant Cardiff on Sunday, this is another must-win game for Pep Guardiola‘s bruised champions.
The damage psychologically of having both that late Raheem Sterling goal ruled out and Fernando Llorente’s controversial winner left to stand, could have a massive bearing on the rest of the season, but it could work as advantage to drive the Citizens even further for the remainder of the campaign.
The Lilywhites displayed emphatically they can capitalise on City’s growing inability to defend under pressure, so Spurs cannot be taken lightly here – especially given their back-to-the-wall defensive show at the Etihad a few short days ago.
As I’ve mentioned there will be a lot of tired legs on show here, but that might only serve up more goals on the Saturday lunchtime menu. Whilst there surely will not be a repeat of the antics of their last encounter, we should be in for another open and attacking game but I feel the hosts will exact their revenge.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Niall’s One to Watch: Cardiff City vs Liverpool (Sunday 16:00)
The title race is very much the focus this week, and Liverpool’s trip to Cardiff City is my one to watch for gameweek 35. The Reds are very much engrossed with the bottom half of the table with three of their last four fixtures being against sides in the final ten sides in the standings. On paper that makes for a nice run-in for a title challenging side, but could be a difficult trip as the Welsh club are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table.
Make no mistake, Neil Warnock’s side’s win over Brighton & Hove Albion in midweek was huge and has given Cardiff a fighting chance at survival. They sit only two points behind the Seagulls who have a game in hand on their rivals, but form and fixtures suggest Brighton will struggle to pick up points for the rest of the season.
The odds are Liverpool come out on top here and that could all but spell the end of Cardiff’s tenure in the Premier League if results do not go their way. However football is not that simple, and if the Welsh club can keep a good shape at the back they can frustrate Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Liverpool struggle more against sides that sit back and soak up the pressure as their wingers are not afforded space in behind the defence. This season though, the Reds have been able to find ways of unlocking defences and picking up the three points when needed. It could be a difficult game for the visitors, but I still back Liverpool to get the goal or two they need to stay ahead of Manchester City.
Prediction: Cardiff City 0-2 Liverpool
Neil’s One to Watch: Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Arsenal (Wednesday 24 April, 19:45)
By this point, both teams will have played already in the week and that will likely have an impact on team selection. Particular for the visitors, who are still gunning for a top four finish, but who are now set on a Europa League final in Baku next month, after breezing past Napoli after two resilient showing against the Partenopei.
Whilst Arsenal will have played Crystal Palace three days prior, Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men will have benefited from an extra day’s preparation after the weekend exerts against relegation-haunted Brighton side – also at Molineux.
With the Manchester derby taking place this same evening, this game might just steal the show for a spectacle however. The Gunners have won their two of the their three on the road after a record away from home nothing short of horrific. But Wolves have proved to be a stiff opposition for the top six this season and the hosts gave Unai Emery’s men a scare in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates earlier this season.
This is the sort of game the visitors will struggle in, and with a fixture list with games of growing importance by the day, the Gunners could slip up here. Diogo Jota is likely to be the key man and with his link-up with Raul Jimenez, Wolves might just nick this – despite Arsenal’s improved defensive showing on the road of late.
Prediction: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Arsenal
Premier League Game of the Week sees Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium
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