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City’s 20-20 vision and Leicester’s response – Premier League talking points

Liverpool v Manchester City – Premier League – Anfield
(Image credit: Jon Super)

Manchester City are seeking a 20th successive win while the relegation battle is hotting up and there are some other intriguing games in the Premier League this weekend.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some talking points ahead of the latest round of fixtures.

City bidding for win number 20

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City enjoying a long winning run

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are enjoying a long winning run (Shaun Botterill/PA)

Leaders Manchester City have another record in their sights as they host West Ham at the Etihad Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s side have won their last 19 matches in all competitions, which is generally accepted to be a record for an English top-flight side. That statistic, however, does not include matches won by penalty shoot-outs. If penalties are included, City’s own record for successive wins is the 20 they notched up in the 2017-18 season. They could equal that by beating the Hammers and move a step closer to claiming the record beyond all doubt.

Foxes need reaction

Brendan Rodgers will hope Leicester can bounce back in the Premier League after their European disappointment

Brendan Rodgers will hope Leicester can bounce back in the Premier League after their European disappointment (Michael Regan/PA)

Leicester have looked strong candidates for a top-four place for much of the season but they will not have forgotten how they surrendered a similar position last year. Their disappointing Europa League exit at the hands of Slavia Prague on Thursday was a blow to confidence and manager Brendan Rodgers will want a reaction as they host Arsenal. The Foxes have coped well with injuries this term but they will not want key player James Maddison to miss many more games with a hip problem. Sunday’s opponents, who are 11th, have been blighted by inconsistency and look defensively suspect but their own Europa League triumph over could inject life into their campaign.

Champions head to bottom side

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has joined the champions' long injury list

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has joined the champions’ long injury list (Phil Noble/PA)

Football hardly matters when put in the context of the personal tragedies suffered by Jurgen Klopp and Alisson Becker lately but Liverpool play on as they travel to bottom side Sheffield United on Sunday. It has been a horrible campaign for the champions. Even when they topped the table in December the were doing so in spite of a lengthy injury list. That has since caught up with them and their form has nosedived to such an extent they now face an uphill battle to make the top four. Their defence will have to be patched up yet again after the loss of Jordan Henderson this week and even the Blades, who have shown fighting spirit despite their lowly position, are likely to be a tough proposition.

No more fantasy football at Villa

News of Jack Grealish's injury leaked out on social media last week

News of Jack Grealish’s injury leaked out on social media last week (Catherine Ivill/PA)

Aston Villa must press on without their inspirational captain Jack Grealish as they travel to Leeds on Saturday. His absence weakens Dean Smith’s side considerably and risks them being dragged back into mid-table. Leeds will be eyeing the chance to leapfrog them and put themselves into the European frame. News of Grealish’s injury sparked a storm last week when it leaked out on social media, apparently because his team-mates were playing online fantasy football. Further team leaks are unlikely to make the same impact, but the fantasy teams of Villa players will be closely watched from this weekend nevertheless.

Relegation battle hotting up

Fulham are fighting for their survival

Fulham are fighting for their survival (Andrew Coulridge/PA)

Fulham have been trapped in the bottom three all season but they have never thrown in the towel and are showing signs they could yet haul themselves out of trouble. They certainly set alarm bells ringing at Newcastle last week as they picked up seven points in the space of six days. They are now just three points behind the 17th-placed Magpies as they head to Crystal Palace on Sunday and Steve Bruce’s side, who host Wolves, will be looking over their shoulders.

Test for Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel has made a good start at Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel has made a good start at Chelsea (Neil Hall/PA)

There was plenty of sympathy for Frank Lampard when he was given the push by Chelsea last month but the progress since under Thomas Tuchel appears to be justifying the club’s decision. The German is unbeaten in eight matches in charge, with six wins including Tuesday’s impressive showing against Atletico Madrid. A test of the Blues’ revival comes on Sunday as they host second-placed Manchester United.

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