The Phuket News

Premier League enters the critical final stretch

- Editor3@classactme­

The Premier League returns to action this weekend following the internatio­nal break as the season enters its final stretch.

There is still much to play for at both ends of the table with Liverpool and Manchester City fighting it out for the title and a number of teams desperatel­y trying to escape the relegation trap door at the bottom.

Liverpool kick off the weekend’s action at home to Watford tomorrow (Apr 2) in a game they are widely expected to win with ease – the Reds have faced the Hornets 27 times in the Premier League era, winning 20 and drawing 2. The last time they faced one another, on Oct 16 last year, Liverpool romped to an embarassin­gly easy 5-0 victory in what was Claudio Raineri’s first game in charge.

The Hornets are now under the tutorship of wily Englishman Roy Hodgson, facing one of his many former clubs, although they are still in a woeful situation in 18th place in the table having played at least two extra games than their fellow relegation threatened rivals.

They couldn’t pick a tougher opponent as Liverpool have been purring of late. They sit a point behind rivals Manchester City, having both played 29 games, and will want all three points tomorrow before they travel to the Etihad Stadium on Apr 10 for a game that many are saying will truly determine the fate of this year’s title.

Whoever starts from Liverpool’s formidable front five of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz, expect them to cause the Hornets a torrid time and the Reds to be top of the league by the time Pep Guardiola’s team travel to Burnley a few hours later.

One expects City to emerge victorious but Sean Dyche’s team are always a difficult opponent and will be desperatel­y trying to ensure this year isn’t the one where they finally drop out of the league, having flirted with relegation in so many years previous.

Leeds face Southampto­n at home in a game they need to win to edge further away from the drop zone and all eyes will be on Frank Lampard on Sunday as his struggling Everton team travel to West Ham.

The Toffees do have games in hand but are desperatel­y low on confidence and a trip to face David Moyes’ stubborn Hammers will be a stiff challenge that they will do well to get anything from.

In the race for the final top four spot, Spurs face a buoyant Newcastle side and Arsenal travel to Crystal Palace, who are still on cloud nine after reaching the FA Cup semifinal. Expect tough games for both the north London teams.

 ?? Photo: AFP ?? Luis Diaz (left) and Digo Jota have added further potency to Liverpool’s feared attack.
Photo: AFP Luis Diaz (left) and Digo Jota have added further potency to Liverpool’s feared attack.

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