Premier League Title Watch: Liverpool has momentum but City has the games in hand

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With Arsenal out of the title race, it’s down to Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Liverpool tops the table on 71 points while Chelsea is two points back in 2nd place and Manchester City is 3rd on 67 points, with two games in hand.

Schedule, form, other competitions and injuries will all play a role in determining the champion and below we review what each of the title favorites is looking at with just six match weeks to play.

1. LIVERPOOL 71 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Norwich City (A); Chelsea (H); Crystal Palace (A); Newcastle United (H)

League Form: WWWWWW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries (return date): Jose Enrique, knee (out for season)

Vegas odds to win: 7/4

Verdict: What a week it was for Liverpool, defeating Sunderland 2-1 and smashing Tottenham 4-0. That takes the Reds’ win streak to eight straight in the Prem and their unbeaten streak to 13 in a row. The title deciding matches will take place on April 13th (v. City) and April 27th (v. Chelsea) and with both of these fixtures at Anfield it’s tough to suppress those visions of Steven Gerrard raising the title.

2. CHELSEA 69 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Stoke City (H); Swansea City (A); Sunderland (H); Liverpool (A); Norwich City (H); Cardiff City (A)

League Form: WWWLWL

Other Competitions: Champions League (v. PSG on 8th)

Injuries (return date): Ashley Cole, knee (April 5th), Marco van Ginkle, knee (out for season)

Vegas odds to win: 13/2

Verdict: After losing to lowly Crystal Palace last weekend, Chelsea’s title-hopes hang by a thread. The Blues have no choice but to win out their matches (most importantly, beat Liverpool on April 27th) and pray that City takes only 1 point from their two games in hand. Trouble at the Bridge.

3. MANCHESTER CITY 67 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Southampton (H); Liverpool (A); Sunderland (H); West Bromwich Albion (H); Crystal Palace (A); Everton (A); Aston Villa (H); West Ham United (H)

League Form: DWWWWD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries (return date): Micah Richards, muscle injury (April 5th); Sergio Aguero, hamstring (April 5th); Matija Nastasic, knee (no return date)

Vegas odds to win: 4/5

Verdict: Vegas says City are more likely than Liverpool to win the title but not by much. City thumped United last week but failed to sparkle in the draw against Arsenal. Four points behind Liverpool and with a three goal advantage in goal differential, City can win the title with a draw at Liverpool and winning out the rest of the season – something that’s entirely possible given a favorable end-of-the-season schedule. It’s a feat that, while difficult, will be much easier to do with Aguero back in the fold as the Argentine striker is expected to return for this weekend’s match against Southampton.

 

AT THE HALF: Manchester derby scoreless after 45 minutes

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After 45 minutes, the final Manchester derby of the 2016-17 Premier League season — the one that’ll go a long, long way toward deciding which of the city’s sides will finish in the top-four — is scoreless, but not without incident.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The game’s best chances thus far fell Manchester City’s way, as Sergio Aguero missed a clear-cut chance after 10 minutes — Kevin De Bruyne whipped in the perfect ball to the back post, and Aguero put it wrong side of David De Gea‘s post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ander Herrera has, once again, be Manchester United’s danger man, combining well with Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Claudio Bravo made the one save he was forced into during the first half. One thing to keep an eye on during the final 45 minutes: Rashford picked up a knock very early on, and struggled to move around the field after that.

STREAM LIVE: The Manchester Derby

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The third Manchester Derby of the season is the first away from Old Trafford, as Manchester United visits Manchester City (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday.

There’s much on the line, as the sides sit just two points apart in the race for the Top Four. Man City would leapfrog third-place Liverpool with a win, while United could join the Reds on 66 points with a match-in-hand.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Sergio Aguero starts for Man City, with Gabriel Jesus on the bench.

On the other side, it’ll be a physical middle-third guarded by Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Marouane Fellaini. Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard start on the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester City: Bravo, Zabaleta, Kompany (C), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling, De Bruyne, Sane, Aguero. Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Fernando, Navas, Clichy, Gabriel Jesus, A. Garcia

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Herrera, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan; Rashford, Martial. Subs: Romero, Shaw, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Young, Lingard, Rooney.

Ex-Liverpool CEO shares biting story of Suarez transfer

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Ian Ayre’s got jokes.

The former Liverpool CEO lifted the lid on some transfer stories during a Merseyside lecture this week.

Of note, Ayre admitted that the club thought Dele Alli demanded too much given what he had produced when the Reds has the chance to sign him as a 16-year-old, and said that Liverpool could’ve landed Alexis Sanchez but the player wanted to live in London (“We couldn’t move the football club to London, unfortunately,” he quipped).

The best part relayed by Sky Sports had to do with Luis Suarez, and shows the relentless nature of the transfer market. Clearly Barcelona had interest in Suarez before the fiery striker bit Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, because, well…

“I remember the sporting director of Barcelona calling me during that game, immediately as Suarez bit the player, and he said to me ‘my friend, he’s bitten somebody, how can this be the price?’ I said ‘he’d already bitten somebody when you first bid!'”

We’re sure there’s a certain amount of storytelling in there, but undoubtedly some truth.

Given Barca paid a reported $84 million for the striker, the asking price couldn’t have started that much higher.

Men in Blazers podcast: Chelsea tops Spurs, Top Four predictions

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Rog and Davo return to discuss Chelsea’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Spurs, update their Top Four predictions (again), and dive into the depths of the relegation zone. Plus, the very important movement to change “Hudson Street” to “Ray Hudson Street.”

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