LONDON – Manchester City’s 16-point lead atop the Premier League means the most intriguing battle looks to be who will finish as runners-up with Manchester United aiming to keep their grip on second place when they host Chelsea on Sunday.
Antonio Conte’s west London side have bounced back from two successive defeats to comfortably beat West Bromwich Albion in the league and secure an impressive 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League last 16, first leg on Tuesday.
United, meanwhile, were held to a goalless draw against Sevilla in Spain on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho’s side, who suffered defeat by Newcastle United in their previous league outing, could be third by the time they welcome his former club to Old Trafford on Sunday.
Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool, only two points behind United, take on West Ham at Anfield having not lost at home in the league so far this season.
Chelsea can ill afford a poor result with the threat of finishing outside the Champions League qualifying places a real possibility for any of the sides immediately behind City.
Tottenham, in fifth place and trailing Chelsea by a solitary point, travel to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday.
In a week that signals the 10-game countdown to the end of the season, jockeying for position intensifies significantly. That can also be seen at the other end of the table where a margin of five points separates 10th from the relegation places.
Bottom side West Bromwich face Huddersfield at the Hawthorns looking to snap a run of three successive defeats.
It is the first of two games that British media has said West Brom manager Alan Pardew has to save his job.
The weekend kicks off with Stoke City visiting fellow Midlands club Leicester City with both sides winless in three.
Third-bottom Southampton could climb out of the relegation zone with a victory at Burnley, whose own run without a win stretches back 12 games to the middle of December.
Sean Dyche’s side have only picked up two points in the league so far this year, dampening their early-season surge.
Brighton face fellow strugglers Swansea while the late kickoff is a mid-table tussle between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road.
Arsenal and Manchester City skip league action this weekend due to their League Cup final clash at Wembley on Sunday. They next play in the league on March 1 when they, coincidentally, face each other at the Emirates.
* Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho praised youngster Scott McTominay for his performance in his side’s goalless Champions League draw at Sevilla but questioned the club’s medical staff after Ander Herrera was forced off injured.
Spanish midfielder Herrera made his first appearance in three weeks after returning from a hamstring injury as Mourinho left record signing Paul Pogba out of the Champions League last-16 first leg.
Yet the Portuguese coach was forced to call on the out-of-form France midfielder after 17 minutes when Herrera was forced off with what appeared to be another hamstring problem.
“I think it is a bad injury,” Mourinho told reporters after his side withstood frequent attacks from Vincenzo Montella’s adventurous yet wasteful side. “He had a small injury that stopped him from playing the last couple of matches, but the medical department said he was 100 percent ready for last Saturday (against Huddersfield).”