By Neil Leverett and Niall Clarke
- With the penultimate Gameweek of the season, Manchester City face Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium
- The Citizens can go into final game needing just a win to retain their Premier League crown, with victory against the Foxes
- Liverpool travel to Tyneside to face old boss Rafa Benitez’ Newcastle United side, knowing only a win will do
PREMIER LEAGUE, UK – With just two games to play of the 2018/19 Premier League season, Manchester City host Leicester City in an intriguing clash at the Etihad Stadium.
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Game of the Week: Manchester City vs Leicester City (Monday, 20:00)
Niall: It’s crunch time as we reach gameweek 37 of the Premier League season, and the title is still up for grabs with two games left as Manchester City look to hold off the challenge of Liverpool in their bid to retain the Premier League.
The Champions welcome Leicester to the Etihad on Monday in a match that could seal top spot for another season if the result between Newcastle and Liverpool goes their way. A win for City and a loss for Jurgen Klopp’s men on Saturday will seal a second straight title for Pep Guardiola and will end one of the most tense title battles we have seen. Both sides would have already done enough to win the Premier League in most seasons, but we are talking about two special teams here and that has made for an extraordinary race.
Manchester City will go into Monday Night’s match as the favourites against Leicester as they are against most sides in the World, but that does not mean they should underestimate the Foxes. Under Brendan Rodgers Leicester have picked up some form and this youthful side proved to be too much for Arsenal in their last outing. Leicester themselves are fighting for a potential European spot, so they have stakes in this contest too.
We have seen sides come to the Etihad and take points from the Champions this season, and Leicester have the talent to pull off a shock result. However it is difficult seeing the hosts dropping points in such a key fixture. It will no doubt be a nervy night in Manchester, but it is a match City should and probably will win.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Leicester City
Neil: The narrative for this penultimate weekend of the campaign – certainly at the summit of the table – is the meetings of old foes and familiar faces, with one side hoping for a favour from a former employee. For Liverpool, that comes in the shape of Rodgers’ Foxes side against the reigning league champions.
No side has retained the Premier League crown in over a decade, but should City record a win here, they will be one game away from doing so. In their way stands a former Reds boss, who himself can agonisingly close to becoming a top flight winning manager. Here, the Northern Irishman can put a major spanner in the works against the team that beat his Liverpool to the title back in 2014.
City are somewhat limping to the line in defence of their title but continue to do just enough to stay on track. Three points at Turf Moor last weekend felt like it was a big result in determining the destination of the title, but it will Kun Aguero‘s lone goal last time out will mean nothing, if Pep Guardiola‘s men fall here.
The visitors are defensively not where they have been in the past, in attack their are as potent as any side in the league on their day. City have shown they are not reliable also at the back and with the way Rodgers will set his side up to counter at speed, this could be a real humdinger on Monday evening.
I have always sensed there is still to be a twist in this season so it has panned out, and because of the way Leicester are currently molded in, coupled with the fact they have already beaten Chelsea on the road and taken a point at Anfield earlier this season, I am sticking my neck out and going for a draw here, which could leave the ball – literally in the Reds’ court.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-2 Leicester City
One to Watch: Newcastle United vs Liverpool (Saturday, 19:45)
Niall: There is something rather poetic about this match and the potential stakes it has. Rafa Benitez could cost his former employers the Premier League title this very weekend if his Newcastle side manage to defeat Liverpool, and that is one of the several storylines heading into Saturday night’s clash.
With the Champions League also on agenda for Klopp’s men, I wonder how much focus will be on this fixture. Despite playing fairly well at the Nou Camp, the Reds suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona because… well Lionel Messi doing Messi things. Luckily they will not have to deal with the best player in the World (the Balon dor can not convince otherwise) on Saturday, but they will have the unenviable task of breaking down a well organised side.
Newcastle do not have the best talent in the league, but in Benitez they have a manager who knows what it takes to get the win. The Magpies have upset Manchester City this season and there is no reason they can not do the same to Liverpool. The Reds may be reeling after their defeat in midweek and that could cause a dip when they travel to Tyneside.
A positive for Liverpool is that their opponents are not fighting for anything after securing their survival for another season whilst the Reds have everything to pay for. They will fight more for every ball and play with that extra intensity that could see them through. Newcastle will be a tough side to break down, but I think Liverpool will eventually do so and that may be enough to send the title ace down to the last day.
Prediction: Newcastle United 0-1 Liverpool
Like City, nothing less than three points will do, but as I have said though unpredictable, at home the hosts could spring a real surprise here and I have a hunch they will. Could both top two sides drop points this week. leaving a case of as you were into next weekend’s finale? Very possibly, yes.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-1 Liverpool
Premier League Game of the Week sees Manchester City host Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium
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