City bearing down on title as EPL returns
london: The Premier League roars back into action this weekend for the season's home straight after a two-week hiatus for the final international break of the campaign. With a maximum of eight games left, AFP Sport looks at what is still to be decided at both ends of the table.
Manchester City travel to Everton on Saturday looking to take the penultimate step towards a first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola and kick off a huge week in City's season in style.
City lost 0-4 on their last visit to Goodison during a hugely disappointing first year under Guardiola but are a team transformed under the Catalan this season as they storm towards the title at a record-breaking pace.
The runaway league leaders boast a 16-point lead over Manchester United and could seal the league in the sweetest fashion against their local rivals at the Etihad next weekend.
However, Guardiola could have a daunting return to Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on his mind.
City's only league defeat of the campaign so far came on Merseyside, when Liverpool edged a seven-goal thriller 4-3 in January.
Behind City, the race for three remaining Champions League places will leave one of United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea disappointed.
Spurs travel to Chelsea this weekend seeking to end a 28-year wait to win a league match at Stamford Bridge.
Should they shake off the absence of the injured Harry Kane to do so, they could end Chelsea's realistic hopes of a top-four finish. Antonio Conte's men already trail fourth-placed Spurs by five points.
Liverpool are two points further ahead in third having played a game more and second-placed United are even more secure of a return to the Champions League, holding a nine-point lead over Chelsea.
Arsenal appear resigned to having to win the Europa League if they are to return to the Champions League next season as they trail Spurs by 13 points down in sixth.
Rock-bottom West Brom seem doomed on the back of eight straight defeats in all competitions but the battle to avoid joining them in the Championship next season is very much alive with eight teams separated by just seven points between 12th and 19th.
West Ham, just one place and two points above the drop zone, are calling on their fans to play their part in lifting the team during Saturday's six-pointer at home to Southampton.
An extra security banner will be erected near the directors' box while extra policing and stewarding will be in place at the London Stadium.
The measures are aimed at avoiding a repeat of shocking scenes when fans invaded the pitch while insults and missiles were thrown at joint owners David Sullivan and David Gold during a 3-0 home defeat to Burnley on March 10.
"Negativity can undoubtedly affect players' concentration and confidence, as I believe it did in the second half against Burnley," said Mark Noble.