Newcastle, England – The Premier League title chase is in full effect with two games remaining, and Manchester City is in pole position to claim its first top-flight title since 1968 despite sitting tied with Manchester United atop the table.
The Citizens earned a clutch win over the Red Devils on Monday to go level on 83 points, and with a goal differential of 61 to United's 53, it would take a colossal crumble on City's part to miss out on the coveted piece of silverware.
But taking maximum points is not a foregone conclusion as Roberto Mancini's men will take on a motivated Newcastle side looking to crack the top-four and climb into a Champions League qualification spot.
With a great deal at stake for both sides, City defender Pablo Zabaleta knows that his side must be in top-gear when it faces Newcastle at SportsDirect Arena on Sunday if it wishes to continue its march toward the title, recognizing the treat that the Magpies and their in-form striker pose.
"I think the momentum within our team is incredible," Zabaleta told the club's official website. "We won the derby, which was an incredible result for the players, the club and the fans and our confidence has never been higher.
"[Newcastle has] probably been one of the best teams in the Premier League over the last three months and in Papiss Cisse, they have made a real find. The guy is unbelievable and every goal he has scored has been world class. All their players have done very well so it's going to be a really difficult game, but we always thought it would be.
"Having said that, we have all the incentive we need," he continued. "We know that we're playing for the title and I think this game will make the difference. We need three points, especially with United playing later in the day."
Should City falter, United will have a golden chance to reclaim first place later on Sunday when the Red Devils host Swansea City at Old Trafford. With Sir Alex Ferguson's men needing to reduce their goal differential deficit behind City and with Swansea coming off of a disappointing defensive outing that saw the club concede four goals to lowly Wolverhampton, we could be in store for plenty of goals at the Theater of Dreams.
The relegation battle is arguably just as enthralling as the title chase, and Sunday's action should provide plenty of drama involving teams at the bottom of the table.
Aston Villa and QPR enter the weekend in safe positions but they could easily get pulled closer to danger should results go against them. Villa, sixth from bottom on 37 points, faces a stern test against Tottenham at Villa Park while QPR, sitting one spot clear of relegation on goal differential, welcomes Stoke City to Loftus Road.
Bolton sits tied with QPR on 34 points but will most likely have to eclipse the London club outright on points if it wants to avoid the drop - the Trotters trail QPR by eight goals in the goal differential category. Owen Coyle's men will look to make up some ground heading into the final matchday of the season with three points against West Bromwich at the Reebok on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, Fulham welcomes Sunderland to Craven Cottage and Everton heads to Molineux to face Wolverhampton.
Saturday's lone contest sees Arsenal host Norwich City at the Emirates, while Monday's fixture is a relegation six-pointer as Wigan heads to Ewood Park to face Blackburn.