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Real Madrid rests starters in 4-0 defeat of relegated Granada with focus on Champions League final

LONDON: Arsenal have hardly put a foot wrong in the Premier League in 2024, but as the title race nears the finish line they desperately need a favor from Fulham, who host ruthless Manchester City this weekend.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners, who travel to Manchester United, are one point clear at the top of the table with two games left to play but, crucially, Pep Guardiola’s men have a game in hand.

Nottingham Forest will take a big step towards safety if they beat in-form Chelsea, who are battling Newcastle and Manchester United for a European spot.

Here’s a look at three pre-action talking points.

When the fixture list for the 2023/2024 season was announced, Sunday’s outing to Manchester United looked like a difficult task for Arsenal, but it doesn’t look like that now.

The Gunners, who are chasing their first Premier League title in 20 years, are likely to be knocked off the top of the table by the time they kick off at Old Trafford on Sunday.

That’s because second-placed City, in the hunt for a historic fourth straight Premier League title, were in action at Fulham the day before.

City are unbeaten against London in 21 games in all competitions.

Arsenal will be confident they can beat a sputtering United team who are looking increasingly likely to miss European football next season after their embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday.

City’s match is against Tottenham next week, where they have never scored a goal in the league, but Spurs’ form has let them down and Erling Haaland is back to his best.

Arsenal, who have a superior goal difference, need City to stumble, but the signs are not promising.

Newcastle and Chelsea are both making a claim for a European place at the end of the season, helped by Manchester United’s slump.

Eddie Howe’s Newcastle are in pole position to clinch a place in the Europa League or the UEFA Conference League, depending on the results in the last few rounds of the Premier League and in the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United.

They could even end up in fifth place if Tottenham implodes further.

Sixth-placed Newcastle host Brighton on Saturday and have won five of their past seven league games.

Free-scoring Chelsea were still well off the pace a few weeks ago, but a run of one defeat in their past 12 league games has given them hope of salvaging a troubled season.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men travel to relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest knowing victory will keep their hopes of a European spot alive.

Nottingham Forest heard this week that an appeal against their four-point penalty for breaching Premier League financial rules had been unsuccessful, but they are still close to securing top-level safety.

If Forest improves on Luton’s result against West Ham, they will be on the brink of a third successive year in the top flight.

It has been a rollercoaster season for Forest, who were accused of inappropriate behavior by the Football Association earlier this month after the club criticized VAR Stuart Attwell on social media following their defeat to Everton.

Forest boss Nuno Espirito Santo said he had “already moved on” after the failed appeal against their points deduction.

They are favorites to avoid defeat, but if results are disappointing this weekend they could face a shootout against Burnley in the final weekend.

Fixtures

Saturday (1400 GMT unless otherwise stated)

Fulham vs Man City (1130), Bournemouth vs Brentford, Everton vs Sheff Utd, Newcastle vs Brighton, Tottenham vs Burnley, West Ham vs Luton, Wolves vs Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest vs Chelsea (1630)

Sunday

Manchester United vs Arsenal (1530)

Monday

Aston Villa vs Liverpool (1900)