Alonso wary of United threat, Spurs ready to pounce

With just seven games remaining, Chelsea is looking to land the knockout blow as it slugs out with second placed Tottenham in the fight for Premier League supremacy.

Marcos Alonso said that United will be having extra motivation to do well after losing twice to Chelsea this season.   -  Getty Images

Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso has warned the leader to beware of a Manchester United backlash, while Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham can provide a dramatic finale to the title race.

With just seven games remaining, Chelsea is looking to land the knockout blow as it slugs out with second placed Tottenham in the fight for Premier League supremacy.

Antonio Conte's side hold a seven point lead at the top, but Tottenham can temporarily trim the gap to four if it beats Bournemouth at White Hart Lane in Saturday's early kick-off.

Alonso admits that would pile the pressure back on Chelsea, which faces a tricky trip to Old Trafford to face a United team fuelled by a revenge mission on Sunday.

Managed by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, United has already endured a humiliating 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea in October and an acrimonious 1-0 loss on its return to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup quarterfinals in March.

But Mourinho's fifth placed team, four points behind fourth placed Manchester City in the Champions League qualification scrap, is unbeaten in its 21 league matches since that first painful loss to Chelsea this season.

"It will be tougher this time around. They are one of the best teams in England, no doubt," Alonso said.

"It will be a very hard game, even more so after losing twice against us. They will give even more to try and beat us. We will have to do the same or more than before to get another win. They will be hard to beat. We will have to be ready."

Chelsea, unbeaten in its last 12 meetings with United, has won back to back matches since its shock defeat against Crystal Palace, but Tottenham remains hot on its heels.

Pochettino's side have reeled off six successive victories, sparking dreams of winning the club's first English title since 1961 and finishing above bitter rival Arsenal for the first time since 1995.

It currently sits 14 points clear of Arsenal, but Pochettino is understandably more concerned about catching Chelsea than earning north London bragging rights.

"I think we're playing and fighting for bigger things," said Pochettino, who may hand a first start to Harry Kane since the striker's ankle injury five weeks ago.

"If we look at the bigger picture it's to try to reduce the gap with Chelsea. I think today it's not important the gap we have with Arsenal.

"The most important thing is to do our job, try to win games and try to reduce the gap with Chelsea."

Furious

Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal flops head to Middlesbrough looking to redeem themselves in the eyes of their furious fans after its shocking 3-0 defeat at lowly Crystal Palace on Monday.

Subjected to vitriolic abuse from supporters during its fifth defeat in its last eight games and labelled as "cowards" by former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, Wenger's sixth placed side can't afford another debacle as it tries to close the seven-point gap on the top four.

Wenger, who endured calls for his resignation, has led Arsenal into the Champions League for the last 19 years, but that record is in severe danger and a defeat at the Riverside Stadium might usher the beleaguered Frenchman towards the exit.

"This isn't Arsenal in this moment in time. We thought we'd got out of this little rough patch," Gunners winger Theo Walcott said.

"Hopefully we haven't been dragged straight back into it, but judging on that performance, it looks like we have."

Second bottom Middlesbrough, six points from safety and without a win in 14 league matches, has no margin for error either as it tries to avoid relegation.

City travels to Southampton, while third placed Liverpool are at West Bromwich Albion.

Bottom of the table and 10 points from safety, Sunderland will surely be doomed to the drop if it loses at home to West Ham.

Beaten by a controversial penalty from Antoine Griezmann in Atletico Madrid's 1-0 Champions League quarterfinal first leg victory on Wednesday, Leicester will look to take out its frustrations on Crystal Palace.

Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated):

Saturday

Crystal Palace v Leicester, Everton v Burnley, Southampton v Manchester City (1630 GMT), Stoke v Hull, Sunderland v West Ham, Tottenham v Bournemouth (1130 GMT), Watford v Swansea

Sunday

Manchester United v Chelsea (1500 GMT), West Brom v Liverpool (1230 GMT)

Monday

Middlesbrough v Arsenal (1900 GMT)

  Dugout videos