LONDON: Title-chasing Arsenal must beat bottom club Southampton this weekend if they are to hold off fast-charging Manchester City ahead of next week’s Premier League summit meeting.
Tottenham risk losing touch with Newcastle in the battle for a top-four place unless they avoid defeat at St James’ Park, while time is running out for Leicester to lift themselves out of the relegation mire.
AFP Sport looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the action.
Must-win for Arsenal Arsenal could have been 11 points clear of Manchester City heading into the clash at the Etihad on April 26 but draws against Liverpool and West Ham have cost them.
The Gunners were 2-0 up in both of those matches, adding to the sense of frustration among fans who are desperate to celebrate a first Premier League title triumph since 2004.
If Arsenal beat relegation-threatened Southampton on Friday they will be seven points ahead of Pep Guardiola’s men, who are in FA Cup action this weekend. But the Gunners will have played two games more.
Manager Mikel Arteta says his men are ignoring the noise around the City game to concentrate on Southampton. “We have to become really boring to everybody and be very repetitive, and just focus on what we have to do this morning, and that’s it,” he said on Thursday.
“What we are playing for is something incredible,” he added. “The club hasn’t fought for this position for a long, long time. It’s in our hands and we want to do it.”
Magpies eye top four Newcastle have the chance to put clear daylight between themselves and Tottenham in the race to finish in the top four.
Eddie Howe’s team slumped to a 3-0 defeat against in-form Aston Villa last week, ending a five-game winning run, while Spurs conceded a last-gasp goal to lose 3-2 at home to Bournemouth.
Howe accepted it was his side’s worst performance of the season but said it was crucial to “focus on what’s ahead rather than what’s gone”.
If Newcastle beat inconsistent Spurs they will leapfrog third-placed Manchester United and move six points clear of Sunday’s visitors, with the added luxury of a game in hand. Aston Villa, who travel to Brentford, are also in the hunt for a top-four place after an impressive run of seven wins in eight games but remain outsiders to qualify for next season’s Champions League.