Another crunch week in the Premier League Title Race awaits Manchester City after the huge 4-1 win over Arsenal midweek at the Etihad. I’ll look ahead at the upcoming weeks fixtures and the possible title ramifications of the week ahead.
First up to begin the crunch week is a visit to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham. Fulham have by far exceeded expectations this season upon their promotion back to the Premier League to lie 10th in the table, and at times have played some fantastic football this season.
It’s a credit to Fulham manager Marco Silva & his staff & players that they’ve performed so well this season, so this clash at Craven Cottage won’t be a easy one for Pep Guardiola’s men on the back of the resounding win over Arsenal.
This game does have the feel of a potential banana skin for me, and Manchester City will need to be at their best to get out of Craven Cottage with all three points.
In mid February City followed a 3-1 win at the Emirates with a 1 all draw away at Nottingham Forest. While City dominated that game at the City ground, the failure to take chances on that day proved costly and City dropped 2 points that day against Forest.
That was the last time Manchester City dropped points in the league, so another big performance will be needed against Fulham to capitalise on the momentum from the Arsenal win, and to set up the crunch week ahead.
No doubt Guardiola will have his squad up for this game, so three points is vital here as all points are at this point of the season, especially in close title race.
West Ham (h)
Following the trip to Craven Cottage is a home game at the Etihad against West Ham. West Ham have not lived up expectations this season, and lie 15th in the table, just 5 points above the relegation zone, and come in on the back of 4-3 loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday.
West Ham under David Moyes still possess a squad with plenty of match winners and talented players, despite their low league position.
Players like Danny Ings, Jarrod Bowen, Lucas Paqueta, Said Benrahma, Pablo Fornals and Declan Rice on paper are a lot better then their low place on the league table, and you’d think they’d be up for game given the need for West Ham to give themselves breathing space from the relegation zone and scrap.
West Ham also recently came from 2 goals down to get a point at home against Arsenal, so they are capable of getting a result against the big sides on their day.
I’m expecting a tough game at home in this one, especially with the fixture congestion and games for City every 3/4 days.
This may well be a game where the result is more important then the quality of performance, and it’s the second game of a massive week of Premier League fixtures.
Leeds United (h)
Finally to complete the crunch week of Premier League fixtures will be a home clash next Saturday against Leeds United.
Leeds will come into the clash next weekend needing all the points they can get given their precarious position in the table, sitting 16th and 1 point above the relegation zone at the time of writing.
Leeds have shipped goals of late, with the 6-1 loss at home to Liverpool and the 5-1 loss to a resurgent Crystal Palace fresh in the memory.
Leeds squad does have the feel of not quite being good enough to maintain its place in the Premier League this season, but no games are a formality at any point of the season, especially this late on with every game a massive one for teams in situations like Leeds United, or in situations like we find ourselves in at Manchester City contending for the title.
In conclusion for me this week ahead feels like a huge moment in the title race. If we sit here a week from now with Manchester City having picked up 3 more wins to continue the fantastic recent run we will well placed to secure three consecutive Premier League titles.
A draw or worse in any or more then 1 of the 3 massive games ahead may well open the door or keep it ajar for Arsenal to keep touch with Manchester City in the title race.
Arsenal have their own big games ahead this week, but that’s their problem and not something I’m going to touch on here.
Here’s hoping the Manchester City end of season surge continues this upcoming week, and sets us up for huge final 4 games of the Premier League season.
This weeks three games also lead into the Champions League Semi Final first leg away at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid, but we’ll touch on that game closer to the tie. Now is not the time of the season to look to far ahead.
So bring on Fulham and another massive week awaits.