Manchester United and Liverpool are chasing a return to the Premier League’s top-four, while the former — led by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho — have can kill two birds with one stone on Sunday: better position themselves in relation to the top-four places, and complicated the Blues’ sprint to the title.
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West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
The 2016-17 season’s run-in is rather straightforward for Liverpool: with leads of six and nine points on Man United and Arsenal (having played two more games than each), respectively, Jurgen Klopp‘s side just about controls its own destiny. A return to the UEFA Champions League next fall is well within reach, doubly so given their current six-game unbeaten run (four wins, two draws). Arsenal, meanwhile, have lost five of their last eight; United are unbeaten in 20 league games, but have drawn just as many games (10) as they’ve won during that stretch.
“With Jordan, it was clear from the beginning that it’s not a fixed time until he is back. We have to wait until he feels absolutely nothing, that’s how it is,” Klopp said. “That’s what we are still waiting for. … With Adam, it is a little bit easier to say. I am pretty sure after the Crystal Palace game he will probably be in normal training and that means then (for Watford) he is in the squad or we can think about him then.”
Manchester United vs. Chelsea — 11 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
As he would have it, Mourinho is the focal point ahead of Chelsea’s first visit to Old Trafford since the former Chelsea manager took charge last summer. The Blues routed the Red Devils in their first meeting of the season, 4-0 back in October.
“You say it’s emotional, but for me, it’s a game,” Mourinho insisted this week. “It’s one more game. No different for me. Not at all. They are top for some reasons – it’s not just because they are fresh. It is also because they have individual quality. It’s because they have collective quality. They have a certain style of play. They stick to it. They do it very well. So they are a strong team.”
Chelsea, meanwhile, saw their lead in the PL title race cut to just four points by Tottenham Hotspur’s scintillating destruction of Bournemouth on Saturday. The two sides, Chelsea and Tottenham, will meet in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley Stadium next Saturday.