5 things to know about the Premier League
LONDON (AP) — Jose Mourinho might have been right after all. Since Chelsea inflicted Manchester City its sole home defeat of the season in February, the Blues manager has been insisting his players are not the frontrunners in the race for the Premier League title, instead sticking the favorite tag on City.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to struggling Crystal Palace, Chelsea sits atop the table with a one-point lead over Liverpool. But following the 3-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, City is very much in the hunt, trailing Chelsea by just three points with two matches in hand. City travels to Arsenal on Saturday.
Mourinho has found an ally in Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, who also claimed City is favorite. “If City win their games, they win. It’s simple maths,” Rodgers said.
Here are five things to know about this weekend’s Premier League matches:
FROM TITLE HOPEFULS TO TOP-FOUR CONTENDERS
Arsenal’s form has nosedived to such an extent that the Gunners will have to fight until the final rounds of the season to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.
Having followed up their humiliating 6-0 loss to Chelsea with a disappointing home draw against Swansea, Arsene Wenger’s team is six points behind Chelsea and fifth-place Everton is just six points off with a game in hand. The Merseyside team is at Fulham on Sunday before hosting Arsenal on April 6.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, chasing a first trophy since 2005, acknowledges that his Premier League title hopes are all but gone and is focusing on the FA Cup and a top-four finish.
“Winning the title isn’t our biggest worry at the moment because we have to be realistic,” Wenger said. “Man City look unstoppable and are favorites because they have two games in hand. Everton won, so we have to focus and prepare well for the next game. It will be open until the end, we can still have surprises.”
SUAREZ GREATEST EVER?
Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Sunderland lifted the Reds within one point of leader Chelsea in their bid for a first league title in 24 years. Currently on a seven-match winning streak, Brendan Rodgers’ team seems unstoppable, spurred on by Uruguay star Luis Suarez’s superb performances day in day out.
Suarez has scored 28 league goals in 26 games this season, only six shy of the record held by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.
According to former Liverpool great Steve McManaman, Suarez would become Liverpool’s greatest striker if he can lead the Reds to the title.
“He missed the first five games of the season and that suggests he will go down in Liverpool history,” McManaman said. “If he takes them to the league title, everybody will say he is the greatest center-forward ever. The fact you are even talking about Suarez, after just a couple of years at the club, in the same breath as Robbie (Fowler) or Rushie (Ian Rush) or Kenny (Dalglish) and whoever else shows how much he has learned at Liverpool and how much he has improved.”
STILL THE CHOSEN ONE, BUT FOR HOW LONG?
Stewards had to protect “The Chosen One” banner in honor of David Moyes at the end of Manchester United’s loss to bitter rival Manchester City midweek. Moyes, who was hand-picked by his predecessor Alex Ferguson, is overseeing a dismal first season in charge at United, as the Red Devils are now guaranteed to finish the season with their lowest ever Premier League tally.
After standing behind Moyes for most of the season despite the sense of shambles surrounding Old Trafford, United fans are now openly expressing their anger. British media reported on Thursday that a group of supporters are trying to raise enough money for a plane carrying an anti-Moyes banner to fly over the club’s stadium during Saturday’s match with Aston Villa.
Before Saturday’s match, the Red Devils are five points behind sixth-place Tottenham with seven games left and finishing in the Europa League positions may be beyond their grasp.
ALLARDYCE CAN’T BELIEVE HIS EARS
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce slammed the London club’s fans after his players were booed off the pitch despite their 2-1 win over Hull City that ended a three-match losing streak.
West Ham has endured a difficult season but a good run of four consecutive wins in February has eased the club’s relegation fears. The victory over Hull lifted Allardyce’s team to 11th in the standings before Monday’s match at Sunderland.
“I’ve not experienced that before in the time I’ve been in the game,” Allardyce said about the fans’ reaction. “Obviously, for us, today was all about coming off with three points, whether we played brilliantly, indifferently or not so good. It was about getting the three points. I was hearing booing, I couldn’t quite believe it. I’d seen something I’ve never seen before. Nothing surprises me, I suppose.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR LUKAKU?
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is still pondering whether he should bring back Belgium international Romelu Lukaku to Stamford Bridge next season.
The powerful striker, who is currently on loan at Everton, is unsure about his short-term future as Mourinho is expected to sign a big-name forward this summer. Lukaku has been instrumental in Everton’s excellent season so far, scoring 12 goals in 23 matches for the Toffees.
Many Premier League clubs including Tottenham have reportedly shown their interests in signing the highly rated player that Chelsea signed for 17 million pound ($28 million) three years ago, and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is among the forward’s admirers.
“I think he is a player a lot of clubs will be looking at in the summer. I don’t think Everton will get a free run at him,” Pardew said.