There are just four fixtures to go in the 2017-18 Serie A season. And my word, do we have a title race on out hands.
Napoli’s remarkable win over Juventus last weekend puts them within a point of the league leaders and defending champions. Coming up for both sides are crucial away fixtures that may result in another twist in this thrilling campaign.
Elsewhere, there may be some late drama in the Premier League in the scrap to stay up and the race for a Champions League spot. An eye-catching contest from Major League Soccer wraps the weekend up.
All times listed are in the Eastern US Time Zone
In the final weeks of the Premier League season one of the scrap to stay up or the battle for a top-four finish will occupy the attentions of supporters. This contest between Swansea and Chelsea may determine which one.
Swansea were mauled by Manchester City last weekend and will be keeping an eye on the 3 p.m. kick offs nervously ahead of this game. Should Southampton beat Bournemouth, the gap between them and the Welsh outfit would be just one point; the two sides will meet each other before the end of the campaign too.
As for Chelsea, they will hold slender hopes of reeling in Tottenham to earn a spot in the top four. A win for them at the Liberty Stadium would close the gap to two points to Spurs, with Mauricio Pochettino’s side up against Watford on Monday.
Following a testing start to 2018, Chelsea appear to have turned a corner as of late, notching three wins in succession and moving into the FA Cup final. They should be braced for a hostile atmosphere here, though, as Swansea will be desperate for a win that’d be a huge step towards safety.
After their last-gasp loss to Napoli last weekend, Juventus will be tasked with bouncing back on Saturday in the Derby D’Italia against Inter Milan.
Few would’ve envisaged Juve losing on home soil to their nearest challengers on Sunday, especially in that manner. For so long they’ve been the dominant force in Italy and it’s going to be fascinating to see how they respond to that blow and Napoli’s late charge.
Inter need the points too. Luciano Spalletti’s side started the campaign looking like serious title challengers and while those hopes have faded away, a Champions League place is still up for grabs for the Nerazzurri; they start the weekend in fifth, just a point behind Roma and Lazio.
Given the rivalry that exists between these two massive sides, Inter will also be desperate to knock Juventus off course and hand the initiative to Napoli. However, this Bianconeri side are made of strong stuff and have so many big characters within their squad that a big performance under pressure feels almost inevitable.
Although this match means little for both of these sides at this point in the campaign, there are a couple of intriguing storylines that’ll make the showdown at Old Trafford a watchable one.
Most pertinently, it’ll be the final time Arsene Wenger takes an Arsenal side to Manchester United. It’s a fixture that has produced so many wonderful memories for the Gunners boss down the years; Arsenal famously clinched the Premier League title at the stadium with a win towards the end of the 2001-02 stadium.
Both teams are in a very different position now. Arsenal, in particular, have been rotten away from home throughout this season. Since the turn of the year they’ve yet to pick up a point in any of their Premier League matches on the road, with the most recent 2-1 surrender at Newcastle United indicative of their issues.
As for United, they appear to be finding some form at a crucial point, beating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Wembley on Saturday to secure an FA Cup final berth. Alexis Sanchez, who joined the Red Devils from Arsenal in January, will also be out to impress up against his former club.
Fresh from one of the biggest results in the football club’s history, Napoli will bounce to Fiorentina on Sunday with their title dreams reignited.
Kalidou Koulibaly’s header in the last minute of the clash in Turin will live long in the memory and will be especially cherished if Napoli do go on and win the title this term. Still, there’s a job for Maurizio Sarri’s team to do against Fiorentina in what is arguably the toughest fixture remaining of their four games.
Fiorentina were struck by tragedy earlier in the season after the death of their captain Davide Astori. They went on an inspired run of six wins in a row, but their form has dropped off in recent weeks, losing their last two.
It’ll be a special atmosphere at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, as the visiting supporters will make plenty of noise. Even if Juventus were to win on Saturday, three points for Napoli keeps the pressure firmly on the league leaders going into the final three weeks of the campaign.
NEW YORK CITY VS. FC DALLAS
Sunday, April 29, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Amid recent speculation linking him with a move to Arsenal to replace Wenger, New York boss Patrick Vieira will want to see his side continue their strong start to the campaign against FC Dallas.
The former Gunners midfielder has been doing a fine job in charge of NYCFC this term, as they’ve marched to the top of the Eastern Conference. However, a draw and a defeat in their last two outings are threatening to stunt the momentum built up by a brilliant start.
Sunday’s meeting with Dallas is unlikely to be straightforward either. Oscar Pareja’s side have won three and drawn three of their six MLS games so far, showcasing a real steel at the back. With just three goals conceded so far, they have comfortably the best defensive record in either conference.
New York will definitely put that robustness to the test, as they have some excellent attacking talent in the form of Maximiliano Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi and, of course, David Villa. Still, Dallas will go there confident of soaking up pressure for long spells and snatching something away from home.
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