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Derby day in Manchester and the Premier League talking points

There’s also a Tyne-Wear derby, while Leicester continue their unbelievable title challenge.

Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin surrounded by Man City players.
Manchester United's Morgan Schneiderlin surrounded by Man City players.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

1. City rivalry renewed

SUNDAY SEES THE Etihad Stadium host the 171st Manchester derby with both clubs aiming to strengthen their claims for a top four spot.

United, who were knocked out of the Europa League by Liverpool on Thursday, have been awful on the road with just one win and four defeats in the last eight away matches and currently trail their city rivals by four points after the recent 1-0 defeat to West Brom.

City, meanwhile, secured their place in the Champions League quarter-final this week thanks to their scoreless draw with Dynamo Kiev after their 3-1 first leg victory.

They will be favourites to prevail in this one, although the loss of captain Vincent Kompany to a calf injury is a considerable blow.

2. Foxes aim to take one step closer

It’s exactly a year since Leicester City sat bottom of the table after losing 4-3 to Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Now they’re battling it out with the same club in the most unlikely title race in Premier League history.

With eight games to play, the Foxes have shown remarkable staying power and hold a five-point cushion at the top going into Saturday’s trip to Selhurst Park.

Fifteenth-placed Crystal Palace will be looking to cause an upset but their recent form in the league hasn’t been great — two points and no wins from their last six outings.

3. Tyne-Wear in relegation scrap

In only his second game in charge of Newcastle, Rafael Benitez faces into a derby meeting with Sunderland at St James’ Park.

Winless in their last four and stuck in the middle of a relegation dog fight, the Magpies has entrusted the Spaniard with rescuing their season after sacking Steve McClaren.

There were signs of improvement in his first game even if they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Leicester and it will be interesting to see how they fare against Sam Allardyce’s Black Cats, who are a point better off than them in 17th.

4. Can the Reds make it four-in-a-row?

Southampton v Liverpool - Capital One Cup - Quarter Final - St Mary's Jurgen Klopp and Ronald Koeman. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

It’s seventh versus eighth as Southampton entertain Liverpool. St Mary’s has proved a happy hunting ground for the Reds this season as they hammered the Saints 6-1 in the Capital One Cup back in December.

Jurgen Klopp booked a meeting with his old club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-finals after knocking out Man United on Thursday, while Southampton’s last game saw Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane get on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win over Stoke.

Liverpool are aiming make it four league wins on the trot after already getting the better of Aston Villa, Man City and Crystal Palace over the past month.

5. Arsenal in real need of a win

After crashing out of the Champions League and the FA Cup in the past week, Arsenal turn their attention back to Premier League where they must claim a win over Everton to keep their slim title hopes alive.

The Gunners have been branded bottlers after how this season has panned out — defeats to Barcelona, Watford, Swansea and Man United mean they won’t get their hands on silverware in 2016 unless they can make up ground lost in the league.

With a game in-hand, they trail leaders Leicester by 11 points. The Toffees, currently mid-table, have been hampered by inconsistency but overcame Chelsea in the FA Cup last time out and they are unbeaten in the last three meetings between these two clubs.

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About the author:

Ben Blake

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