As the English Premier League season winds toward its conclusion, the race for a spot in the top four and the Champions League spot that comes along with it is heating up. There are still a couple berths up for grabs heading into the final weeks.
Rivals Manchester United and Manchester City are both going to earn one barring a massive collapse. That leaves two spots available among Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Everton and, if everything falls exactly in their favor, Liverpool.
While those clubs battle for positioning and others attempt to fight off relegation, the secondary focus around the league is the summer transfer window. The rumor mills are starting to heat up as managers begin to plot their offseason strategies.
It all makes for a hectic sprint to the finish. Let's examine some of the latest rumors from around the league, followed by a preview of the week's top match and predictions for all next weekend's Premier League action.
Vincent Kompany has been limited to 21 league appearances for Manchester City this season due to a lingering leg injury. It hasn't impacted the 26-year-old center-back's market value, however, as he's still a highly coveted commodity.
Last year's Premier League Player of the Season is one of the most reliable defenders in Europe. Now it appears City will be forced to fend off interest from La Liga superpower Barcelona in order to keep him in the middle of their defense, according to Pete Jenson of the Daily Mail.
Given their sustained success in recent seasons, it's clear Barca doesn't chase mundane talents. Kompany is a player capable of transiting to Spanish football without missing a beat and would be yet another big name playing alongside Lionel Messi. City must work to make sure that doesn't happen.
Nani is no stranger to transfer rumors. The talented yet streaky winger has only played for two clubs during his career (Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United) but has been linked to countless others over the years.
It appears this summer's window will bring more of the same. David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror reports the Red Devils haven't been able to reach a new contract agreement with him and are now ready to move on from him.
Nani has only scored once during Premier League play this season and hasn't been able to create the same type of matchup problems on the outside. Unless something changes over the final part of the season, it sounds like a new home is on the horizon.
This spot would have gone to the high-profile matchup between Chelsea and Tottenham, but it was postponed due to the Blues' appearance in the FA Cup semifinals. So instead, the Premier League leaders get highlighted for a match against Stoke City.
Manchester United are trying to cruise to another EPL title with as little drama as possible. The club's dynamic attack, which ranks first with 70 goals on the campaign, faces a tricky road test against a strong Potters back line.
Stoke City have faded to 15th place after a solid start, which has dropped the club within range of the relegation zone. It means the Potters should be the more desperate side on Sunday as they look to earn at least a point against the Red Devils.
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Tomas Rosicky stepped up in a major way to help Arsenal survive a challenge from West Brom. The Gunners can't expect another match like that from the veteran, but they should cruise past Norwich.
Prediction: 3-0 Arsenal
Aston Villa vs. Fulham
Aston Villa have climbed out of the relegation zone with three wins in their last four matches. They aren't out of danger yet, though. A home draw with Fulham would be an acceptable result.
Everton vs. Queens Park Rangers
Everton watched another late lead evaporate over the weekend, this time against Tottenham. The Toffees have let a lot of points get away throughout the campaign but should handle relegation-bound QPR.
Prediction: 2-0 Everton
Reading vs. Liverpool
The Reds have no margin for error between now and season's end if they want a European spot. Reading is riding an eight-match losing streak, meaning Liverpool should be able to keep pace for another week.
Prediction: 2-1 Liverpool
Southampton vs. West Ham United
There are two main factors in play here. Southampton have discovered their best form of the season, winning three straight. And West Ham has struggling mightily in road matches. It equals a Saints win.
Prediction: 1-0 Southampton
Newcastle United vs. Sunderland
Sunderland are squarely in the relegation race, and Newcastle want to avoid falling into it with a cold streak down the stretch. Expect a lot of conservative play from both sides, leading to a draw.
Stoke City vs. Manchester United
It will be interesting to see if Stoke City decide to change their style of play now that they are fading toward the bottom of the table. Should they open things up more, it will play right into United's hands.
Prediction: 2-0 Manchester United