ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Intriguing battle for second place as United face Chelsea
London — Manchester City’s 16-point lead atop the Premier League means the most intriguing battle is who will finish as runners-up with Manchester United aiming to keep their grip on second place when they host Chelsea on Sunday.
Antonio Conte’s west London side have bounced back from two successive defeats to comfortably beat West Bromwich Albion in the league and secure an impressive 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday.
United, meanwhile, were held to a goalless draw against Sevilla in Spain on Wednesday.
Jose Mourinho’s side, who suffered defeat at Newcastle United in their last league outing, could be third by the time they welcome his former club to Old Trafford on Sunday. Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool, only two points behind United, take on West Ham United on Saturday at Anfield having not lost at home in the league so far this season.
Chelsea can ill afford a poor result with the threat of finishing outside the Champions League qualifying places a real possibility for any of the sides immediately behind City.
Tottenham Hotspur, in fifth place and trailing Chelsea by a solitary point, travel to Crystal Palace earlier on Sunday. In a week that signals the 10-game countdown to the end of the season, jockeying for position intensifies significantly.
That can also be seen at the other end of the table where only five points separates 10th from the relegation places.
Bottom side West Brom face Huddersfield Town at the Hawthorns on Saturday looking to snap a run of three successive defeats. It is the first of two games that British media has said West Brom manager Alan Pardew has to save his job.
The weekend kicks off with Stoke City visiting fellow Midlands club Leicester City with both sides winless in three. Third-bottom Southampton could climb out of the relegation zone with a victory at Burnley, winless in 12 games.
Sean Dyche’s side have only picked up two points in the league in 2018, dampening their early-season surge. Elsewhere on Saturday, Brighton face fellow strugglers Swansea City while the late kickoff is a mid-table tussle between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road.
Arsenal and Manchester City skip league action this weekend due to their League Cup final clash at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. They next play in the league on March 1 when they face each other at the Emirates.
West Brom defender Jonny Evans is set to reclaim the captain’s arm band after apologising for the "taxi theft" incident in Barcelona last week.
Evans, teammates Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill were questioned by Spanish police after taking over a taxi to return to the hotel after curfew.