Threat to United re­vival

Manch­ester derby on Sun­day could see a tight bat­tle, with a City win hand­ing them a use­ful 12-point lead

Daily Dispatch - - Sport -

Pre­mier League lead­ers Manch­ester City can en­sure Manch­ester United’s re­cent re­vival is short­lived by open­ing up a 12-point gap on their lo­cal ri­vals on Sun­day.

Mean­while, a se­ries of trib­utes are planned as Le­ices­ter re­turn to the King Power Sta­dium for the first time since club owner Vichai Sri­vad­dhanaprabha and four other peo­ple were trag­i­cally killed in a he­li­copter crash.

Here, AFP Sport looks at three things to watch out for in the Pre­mier League this week­end:

The cham­pi­ons hold just a two­point lead over Chelsea and Liver­pool at the top of the ta­ble, but have looked re­lent­less in re­cent weeks and shown no sign of a slip in stan­dards from their record­break­ing 100-point Pre­mier League cam­paign of last sea­son, scor­ing 12 times in their last two out­ings alone.

One of pre­cious few blem­ishes from last term, though, was blow­ing the chance to claim the ti­tle by beat­ing United at the Eti­had as City threw away a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2.

That re­sult only marginally stemmed the tide in the power shift across Manch­ester to­wards City since Alex Fer­gu­son’s re­tire­ment in 2013.

United have failed to fin­ish above City in the league since, and are al­ready nine points be­hind the lead­ers.

How­ever, Jose Mour­inho’s men were also buoyed by their best re­sult of the sea­son by a dis­tance in win­ning at Ju­ven­tus in dra­matic fash­ion on Wed­nes­day to back up vic­to­ries over Ever­ton and Bournemouth.

De­fen­sive con­cerns re­main for Mour­inho, though, with United keep­ing just one clean sheet in their last 10 matches.

Stop­ping a City side av­er­ag­ing four goals a game at the Eti­had in the Pre­mier League this sea­son is a mon­u­men­tal task.

Two weeks af­ter Vichai’s he­li­copter crashed in the car park of the King Power shortly af­ter Le­ices­ter’s last home match against West Ham, the Foxes will again pay trib­ute to the man who helped pro­duce one of the great­est upsets in sport­ing his­tory as a team la­belled a 5,000-1 shot won the Pre­mier League in 2016.

Le­ices­ter play­ers, staff and fans united for an emo­tional vic­tory at Cardiff last week­end be­fore the play­ers flew to Thai­land to pay their re­spects at Vichai’s fu­neral.

More trib­utes will be made ahead of kick-off, with an ex­pected 20,000 fans set to take part in a walk from Le­ices­ter city cen­tre to the sta­dium in Vichai’s hon­our, as well as a video trib­ute be­fore kick-off and a two-minute si­lence jointly in mem­ory of the vic­tims of the crash and Re­mem­brance Sun­day.

Liver­pool are first up as they look to make amends for a ter­ri­ble re­sult in los­ing 2-0 against Red Star Bel­grade in the Cham­pi­ons League in mid­week to jeop­ar­dise their chances of pro­gress­ing to the last 16.

Ful­ham are there­fore wel­come op­po­nents to An­field, hav­ing slipped to the bot­tom of the ta­ble with a run of five straight de­feats.

Chelsea then have the chance to take top spot a cou­ple of hours later when Ever­ton are the visi­tors to Stam­ford Bridge, hop­ing to in­flict Mau­r­izio Sarri’s first de­feat as Blues boss.

Arse­nal are also in ac­tion as they look to ex­tend a 15-game un­beaten run and at worst re­main just out­side the top four at home to a Wolves side who have faded in re­cent weeks af­ter a great start on their re­turn to the top flight.

But top billing is re­served for the bat­tle of Manch­ester’s gi­ants, with City likely to need at least a point to end the week­end where they start it – com­fort­ably at the top of the ta­ble.

Fix­tures: Cardiff v Brighton, Hud­der­s­field v West

Sat­ur­day: Ham, Le­ices­ter v Burn­ley, New­cas­tle v Bournemouth, Southamp­ton v Wat­ford, Crys­tal Palace v Tot­ten­ham Sun­day : Liver­pool v Ful­ham, Chelsea v Ever­ton, Arse­nal v Wolves, Manch­ester City v Manch­ester United

Pic­ture: Oli SCARFF / AFP

RAIS­ING THE BAR: Manch­ester City’s Brazil­ian striker Gabriel Je­sus cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a hat-trick to make it 6-0 dur­ing a Uefa Cham­pi­ons League group F foot­ball match against Shakhtar Donetsk at the Eti­had sta­dium in Manch­ester, Eng­land on Wed­nes­day..

Pic­ture: Lau­rence Grif­fiths/GETTY IM­AGES

FRIENDLY RI­VALS: Josep Guardi­ola, man­ager of Manch­ester City and Jose Mour­inho, man­ager of Manch­ester United shake hands. They meet again on Sun­day.

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