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EPL Table Week 30: Premier League Title Challengers Who Must Win This Weekend

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger applauds fans after the English Premier League soccer match between Stoke City and Arsenal at Britannia Stadium in Stoke On Trent, England, Saturday, March 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press
Rory MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2014

Chelsea are currently sitting seven points clear at the top of the Premier League table, but with more games played than their nearest challengers the title race is closer than it looks.

However, this weekend sees some crunch games for those in the top four, and losses for the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal could see them fall off the pace.

Manchester City sit nine points off the top in fourth. But with three games in hand over Chelsea, Manuel Pellegrini's side could run Chelsea very close. 

To keep up the pressure on the West London side, all the challengers must keep winning.

Let's have a look at how it stands in the EPL and the must-win fixtures for those challenging for the title. 

Premier League Table: As it stands
TeamPlayedWonDrawnLostGDPoints
Chelsea2920633466
Liverpool2818553859
Arsenal2818552459
Man City2618354257
Tottenham291658053
Man Utd2814681548
Everton2713951148
Newcastle2813411-243
Southampton291199442
West Ham288713-431
Aston Villa288713-731
Stoke2971012-1431
Hull288614-530
Swansea287813-429
Norwich297814-2229
Crystal Palace288317-1927
West Brom2841311-1125
Cardiff296716-2825
Sunderland266614-1624
Fulham296320-3621
BBC Sport

 

Manchester United vs. Liverpool

Jon Super/Associated Press

Liverpool have had a terrific season under Brendan Rodgers and are seriously challenging for the Premier League for the first time since 2009. 

However, a loss to fierce rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday could put a serious dent in their title prospects.

Assuming Chelsea win against 11th-placed Aston Villa, a defeat in Manchester would see the Reds move 10 points behind Jose Mourinho's side with just one game in hand.

And as reported in the Daily Telegraph, Rodgers is insistent his side should be competing at the top:

The benchmark for us is the best.

First of all we are always challenging the team at the top - not Manchester United, who are further down.

Liverpool has its own great history both domestically and in European football so for us the benchmark has always been the best and we will always look to do that.

I never said when I came in here we wanted to be fourth. Top four is where we want to be but Liverpool will always be judged on being the best.

The Liverpool boss may be able to call on Mamadou Sakho and Lucas, who are returning from injury, but Jose Enrique is still out.

The Anfield side come into Sunday's game on the back of four consecutive league wins, but losing to United could see them drop as low as fourth come Sunday evening.

 

Tottenham vs. Arsenal 

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Arsene Wenger's side are currently third in the table, tied on points with Liverpool. And the similarities between the two sides do not stop there.

Arsenal could also see their title hopes derailed by their local rivals on Sunday, when they travel to Spurs.

The Gunners have the most difficult run-in of all the top-four teams and cannot afford to be dropping many points.

A defeat over Tim Sherwood's side is essential to keep up momentum in the league and would be a morale boost after being knocked out of the Champions League midweek.

Arsenal will be without Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, but Kim Kallstrom may be available to make his Arsenal debut against Spurs, per BBC Sport.

 

Hull vs. Manchester City

Jon Super/Associated Press

As Mourinho keeps insisting, his Chelsea side are not the favourites, for the title because the table is inaccurate due to Manchester City's games in hand.

As reported by Nick Lustig in the Daily Starthe Portuguese made this point again ahead of Chelsea's trip to Villa Park on Saturday:

You look at the table and if you have just the number of points, the table is fake, because before the number of points is the number of matches.

We could have 30 points more than them [City] and 10 matches more. It means nothing.

When everybody has the same number of matches - I don't know when this is going to happen, maybe in the last week of competition - is when the table is real.

And to a certain extent, Mourinho is right. If City win all their games in hand, they will be tied on points with Chelsea and a superior goal difference would win them the league.

But one slip from the Sky Blues, and that is no longer true. Games such as this trip to the KC Stadium on Saturday are must-wins.

Their last two games have seen them knocked out of the FA Cup to Wigan and the Champions League to Barcelona. They must beat Hull to stay in the Premier League race.

Sergio Aguero is a major doubt for this clash, meaning, City must look elsewhere for their goalscorers. 

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