Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Man City, Liverpool in the spotlight

Published:Friday | March 17, 2017 | 3:00 AM
Manchester City’s manager, Pep Guardiola (right), and winger Raheem Sterling.
Liverpool's head coach, Juergen Klopp.
Torino’s Andrea Belotti celebrates after he scored during a Serie A soccer match between Torino and Milan, at Turin’s Olympic stadium, Italy, Monday, Jan. 16.
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LONDON ( AP):

Manchester City and Liverpool were expected to be slugging it out for the English Premier League (EPL) title on the home stretch. Instead, they meet at Anfield on Sunday in a tussle just to be among the four Champions League qualifiers.

City, who are reeling from their Champions League exit at Monaco, are only a point ahead of Liverpool in third place.

Despite the swirling storm around Arsene Wenger, fifth-place Arsenal are only five points behind Liverpool with two games in hand. But Arsenal travel to West Bromwich Albion tomorrow having only won twice in the last month both times against fifth-tier teams in the FA Cup.

Leicester are on a roll again since Claudio Ranieri was replaced by Craig Shakespeare. The ailing champions have moved three points clear of the relegation zone with two Premier League wins under Shakespeare, who has also steered the Champions League newcomers into the quarterfinals.

Middlesbrough will be hoping the end of Aitor Karanka's reign yesterday produces a similar uplift as they sit next-to-last in the standings going into Sunday's game at sixth-place Manchester United.

In Spain, Sevilla can't dwell on their Champions League elimination if they want to guarantee a return to the competition.

 

Five points ahead

 

At the start of the month, third-place Sevilla were nine points in front of Atletico Madrid. Now the gap is down to five points ahead of their meeting in Madrid on Sunday. Finishing fourth requires teams to contest a play-off to reach the group stage of the Champions League.

Besides the 2-0 loss at Leicester on Tuesday, Sevilla are coming off two league draws.

It will be a clash of Serie A's top scorers when Inter Milan visit Torino tomorrow.

Torino forward Andrea Belotti is at the top of the scoring chart with 22 goals. Mauro Icardi scored a nine-minute hat-trick in Inter's 7-1 rout of Atalanta last weekend to take his tally to 20.

Inter's victory kept their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive. Inter are fifth, six points behind third-place Napoli and the final Champions League spot.

Napoli visit Empoli on Sunday, when it will be a case of the league's best attack against the weakest. Napoli have scored 65 goals, while Empoli have found the back of the net only 15 times.

Lazio, who are four points below Napoli, visit Cagliari, while second-place Roma host Sassuolo.

Also, Juventus visit Sampdoria as they go for a record sixth straight Serie A title.