Sunday is all about the Champions League chase.
With fifth, sixth, eighth, and 11th all in action and all separated by just five points, these teams need points and they need them now. Who knows if fifth will eventually earn a spot in the Champions League or not, but no team would like to leave that to chance.
With fourth-placed Chelsea drawing Bournemouth earlier in the weekend, the opportunity is there for anyone to claw closer. Manchester United especially needs to push now or never, with the Red Devils currently four points back of the Blues in fifth. Tottenham sits a point back of Man United and could overtake them with the right results, while Wolves sit just one more point back of Spurs.
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Everton v. Manchester United — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
Manchester United has not lost in its last six matches across all competitions, conceding just a single goal across that span. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side appears to be hitting its stride, but a tough league stretch will test that form. After its trip to Everton, the Red Devils will take on Manchester City and Spurs followed by a tough home date with Sheffield United.
Dropped points at Goodison Park could be deadly given what’s to come and the deficit to fourth they still need to make up. It certainly was last season as Solskjaer was forced to issue a public apology after a brutal 4-0 defeat that the boss called “the lowest I’ve been.” That squad did not have Bruno Fernandes, however, as the Portuguese midfielder has come into the Red Devils side and made an immediate difference. Still, Manchester United is without both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial up front. Odion Ighalo scored his first goal for the club against Club Brugge midweek, and it will be interesting whether Solskjaer sticks with the former Watford frontman or goes with in-form youngster Mason Greenwood up front.
The Toffees will not want to see Greenwood, as the 17-year-old equalized in the 77th minute of the reverse fixture earlier this year. Everton is fighting for a Europa League position at the moment, with Carlo Ancelotti downplaying this particular game in favor of the bigger picture. Still, a home win could move them as high as eighth, a real boost moving forward given they are scheduled to face Chelsea and Liverpool in their next two games plus two more against Leicester City and Spurs to start April. Morgan Schneiderlin is a long-term absence after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week, but Theo Walcott will be back after missing out against Arsenal.
Tottenham Hotspur v. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 9:00 a.m. ET, on NBC Gold and NBCSports.com
Spurs are struggling with injuries up front, but are surprisingly right in the Champions League race. A 2-1 loss to Chelsea last time out stopped a four-match league unbeaten run, but otherwise Spurs have weathered the storm. Without Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son, Spurs have found a way to score in each of the last four Premier League games but will match up against a Wolves side that has not conceded in each of the last three.
Jose Mourinho will also be without Ryan Sessegnon and Moussa Sissoko who have each suffered difficult injuries, so it will be interesting to see if the boss sticks with the three-center-back formation Mourinho utilized in the Chelsea loss or if he brings Dele Alli back into the side in a 4-2-3-1.
Wolves has been in the European hunt all season long, and with Nuno’s side in good form, they’ve lost just once in the last six Premier League games. With a soft schedule to finish the season, this is a great opportunity for Wolves to make a statement and push forward in Europe against those around them. They have a nearly clean bill of health, with just Jonny missing out thanks to a foot injury.