London (AFP) – Manchester City have set their sights on a clean sweep of the four major trophies as the runaway Premier League leaders prepare to host high-flying West Ham this weekend.
To have any chance of putting City under pressure, second-placed Manchester United must end Thomas Tuchel’s unbeaten start as Chelsea boss.
AFP Sport looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the weekend action in the English top-flight.
Man City flex muscles
Manchester City’s march to the top of the Premier League was not a surprise given their title-winning pedigree, but their record-breaking surge has fuelled belief that they can achieve greatness.
City chalked up their 19th successive win in all competitions — a record for an English top-flight side — as they eased to a 2-0 victory at Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola’s side are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League, face Tottenham in the League Cup final and have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Bernardo Silva, who was on the scoresheet against Borussia, gave voice to City’s swaggering confidence after they moved a step closer to an unprecedented quadruple.
Unbeaten in 26 matches stretching back to November, Silva said City could set a new standard of excellence after their domestic treble two years ago.
“We know we have good momentum, but this is just the last 16 of the Champions League,” he said. “We have the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
“It is going to be a tough season but we are going to try to win them all.”
Man Utd face Tuchel test
Manchester United are the closest challengers to Manchester City, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will need a major collapse from their rivals if they are to win the title for the first time since 2013.
Victory at Chelsea on Sunday is essential to keep United’s faint hopes alive.
That will not be easy given the Blues’ revival under former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel.
Since replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January, Tuchel has won six of his eight games in all competitions to lift Chelsea up to fifth place.
But United are unbeaten in five league games and their forward Marcus Rashford believes they are becoming a force to be reckoned with.
“I think we’ve said all season that we’re a team that’s still improving, learning lessons about ourselves every game,” he said.
“We have to concentrate on ourselves and keep giving the best version of us. Ultimately that’s going to make us win the games.”
Alli comes in from the cold
After spending much of the season cast into exile by Jose Mourinho, Dele Alli’s return to form has given the Tottenham manager a welcome selection headache.
Alli appeared close to leaving on loan during the January transfer window before the club reportedly blocked the England midfielder’s attempt to rejoin his former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino at PSG.
The 24-year-old has since held clear-the-air talks with Mourinho and has been reintegrated into the squad.
Alli used Wednesday’s 4-0 Europa League win over Wolfsberger to underline his qualities, scoring a brilliant overhead kick and providing two assists.
Ninth-placed Tottenham must beat Burnley on Sunday to get back in top-four contention.
“These are the headaches that I love,” Mourinho said, referring to his selection quandaries. “The headaches that you don’t like are lots of people not performing. Lots of doubts, by negative reasons.
“These are the wonderful problems. The players they need to understand this concept of team, and the intensity of matches. If you have everybody ready or play at this level, it’s the best thing to happen to the team.”
Manchester City v West Ham (1230), West Brom v Brighton (1500), Leeds v Aston Villa (1730), Newcastle v Wolves (2000)
Crystal Palace v Fulham (1200), Leicester v Arsenal (1200), Tottenham v Burnley (1400), Chelsea v Manchester United (1630), Sheffield United v Liverpool (1915)
Everton v Southampton (2000)