Liverpool and Man City duelling it out in what could be the best title race EVER, a mad top four scramble, Everton trying to stay up and English hopes in THREE Euro competitions... Here's what we can get excited about as club football returns

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With the World Cup guest list pretty much confirmed, it's time to turn our attention back to club matters and what promises to be a thrilling climax to the season.

We're on the home straight now with the remaining couple of months set to be decisive in both domestic and European competitions.

Sportsmail picks out just a few of the things to get excited about as club football makes its return this weekend.

Liverpool and Man City will fight it out in at least two competitions between now and May

Liverpool and Man City will fight it out in at least two competitions between now and May

Liverpool and Man City will fight it out in at least two competitions between now and May

THE MOST EXCITING PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE RACE YET?

Just a couple of months ago, it seemed inevitable that Manchester City would romp away to win another Premier League title.

But a combination of their own slip-ups and Liverpool's relentless winning form - they've won nine straight in the league - means we could be set for the most dramatic of season finales.

The rivalry between these two clubs is the defining one right now in English football with both pushing each other to ever greater heights on the pitch.

With nine matches left to play for both, City currently lead Liverpool by a single point. There will be absolutely no margin for error during the finishing straight.

Just a single point separates the top two as we enter the final nine rounds of the season

Just a single point separates the top two as we enter the final nine rounds of the season

Diogo Jota was on target as Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 in their last Premier League outing

Diogo Jota was on target as Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-0 in their last Premier League outing

Manchester City's momentum was halted by Crystal Palace in a goaless draw last time out

Manchester City's momentum was halted by Crystal Palace in a goaless draw last time out

This Saturday, the title tussle resumes with Liverpool hosting Watford and City making the short trip to Burnley.

But everyone knows the really key fixture will come when the two teams meet at the Etihad Stadium the following weekend.

If City take the three points, they'll open up some much-needed and potentially decisive breathing space. A draw keeps it wide open and a Liverpool win will really mean it's game on.

Premier League: Resumes this weekend, concludes on May 22 

WHICH BIG HITTER WILL MISS OUT ON THE TOP FOUR?

It will be of little concern to the top two but the battle to claim the other Champions League places is set to glow white hot.

Chelsea, in third, have an eight-point buffer to fifth spot and so look likely to return to Europe's elite competition next season despite all their current problems.

Below them, however, it's anybody's guess who finishes fourth. Much-improved Arsenal are certainly in the box seat, sitting as they do three points ahead of rivals Tottenham and still with a game in hand.

Chelsea look fairly secure in their top four spot but it's anyone's guess beneath them for fourth

Chelsea look fairly secure in their top four spot but it's anyone's guess beneath them for fourth

Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo have it all to do if they want a top four finish

Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo have it all to do if they want a top four finish

Bukayo Saka scored an important winner at Villa as Arsenal strengthened their grip on fourth

Bukayo Saka scored an important winner at Villa as Arsenal strengthened their grip on fourth

But Manchester United, West Ham and even Wolves haven't yet given up on overhauling the Gunners in the final weeks of the season.

Certainly for United, the strong desire not to have to play in the Europa League or, worse still, the Europa Conference League, should prove motivation but nothing has clicked for them this season with consistency elusive.

Antonio Conte has galvanised Spurs but they're still susceptible to an off-day when it truly matters. They will almost certainly have to beat north London rivals Arsenal once that game is finally rearranged.

West Ham looked to be the favourites for fourth before Christmas but have gone off the boil and may wish to concentrate on winning the Europa League.

ARE EVERTON TOO BIG TO GO DOWN?

There's still plenty of intrigue at the wrong end of the table as well.

Rock bottom Norwich have it all to do - they're eight points from safety after a torrid run of six straight league defeats and would require a miracle escape.

Any bounce Everton enjoyed after Frank Lampard took over has vanished

Any bounce Everton enjoyed after Frank Lampard took over has vanished

But hope remains for Burnley, who retain two games in hand, and Watford as they look to clamber out of the bottom three.

And much of the reason for that optimism comes from Everton's flakiness. There's no point the Toffees believing they're too good to go down as the likes of Newcastle, Leeds and Aston Villa have in the past.

Any boost from Frank Lampard's arrival in February has proved depressingly short lived and if not for a last-gasp win over Newcastle last time out in the league, their situation would look even bleaker.

Before that, however, they're lost four straight league games and their risible FA Cup exit to Crystal Palace ensured a depressing international break for Lampard and his squad.

As Leeds begin to slowly drag themselves away from safety and Newcastle now looking safe, all eyes will be on Everton and whether they can muster a bit of fighting spirit.

This Sunday's trip to West Ham will be tricky but then comes an absolutely huge midweek meeting with Burnley. A classic six-pointer and a game in hand they can't afford to lose.

The Toffees are only three points above the relegation zone but have games in hand

The Toffees are only three points above the relegation zone but have games in hand 

THE MAD SCRAMBLE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY-OFFS

In terms of who will replace them, Fulham are almost there with nine rounds of the Championship season left to complete.

Marco Silva's side have set a ferocious pace all season and round the final bend with a 14-point cushion to Luton in third, with automatic promotion likely to be sealed very soon.

Bournemouth, managed by ex-Fulham boss Scott Parker, are the favourites to follow them having recovered their form to open up a six-point buffer, with two games in hand, to third.

Harry Wilson and Aleksandar Mitrovic (right) are powering Fulham back to the Premier League

Harry Wilson and Aleksandar Mitrovic (right) are powering Fulham back to the Premier League

Luton's 3-1 win at Hull City kept them in third position entering the international fortnight

Luton's 3-1 win at Hull City kept them in third position entering the international fortnight

However, below that, the scramble for the four play-off positions is anyone's guess with just six points splitting Luton in third place and Millwall down in 10th.

The teams in the hunt also include Huddersfield, Sheffield United, Blackburn, Middlesbrough, Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest.

Those positions will fluctuate with every set of matches and it really is a case of who holds their nerve and gets a little bit of consistency to get into the top six.

Championship: Resumes on Friday night, last weekend May 7. Play-off final May 29. 

While Fulham and Bournemouth are on course for automatic promotion back to the Premier League, a mad scramble for the four play-off positions is underway

While Fulham and Bournemouth are on course for automatic promotion back to the Premier League, a mad scramble for the four play-off positions is underway

TWO BRILLIANT FA CUP SEMI-FINALS

That aforementioned City-Liverpool rivalry intensified further when they were drawn together in the semi-finals of the FA Cup next month.

It means they will meet on consecutive weekends with crucial Champions League ties in between for both. Talk about the business end.

The scheduling of the Wembley semi-final on a weekend when train travel from the north-west is nigh on impossible has caused plenty of controversy and rightly brought into focus the ridiculous lengths and costs fans have to go to.

Diogo Jota scored Liverpool's FA Cup winner at Nottingham Forest to keep their hopes alive

Diogo Jota scored Liverpool's FA Cup winner at Nottingham Forest to keep their hopes alive

But the game - and the London derby between Chelsea and Crystal Palace the following day - will be brilliant spectacles with likely capacity crowds.

In this day and age, the FA Cup doesn't quite carry the same lustre as it did but it might provide some limited consolation for the heavyweight who misses out on the Premier League title.

The semi-finals will also signal the end of certain ambitions. Man City can still win a Treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, matching Man United's feats in 1999.

But Liverpool, having won the Carabao Cup, are still on for a truly historic Quadruple. Plenty of people have always maintained it can't be done but if Jurgen Klopp's side are still in the running after their April 16 meeting with City, then why not?

FA Cup semi-finals: Liverpool vs Manchester City on April 16; Chelsea vs Crystal Palace on April 17. Final on May 14. 

Crystal Palace proved they're up for the cup when they brushed Everton aside 4-0

Crystal Palace proved they're up for the cup when they brushed Everton aside 4-0

THREE ENGLISH CLUBS IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

We're very much into the business end of the Champions League and the exciting ties will come thick and fast now.

The first legs of the quarter-finals, for example, are next week with the returns the following week. Each one promises the usual dose of drama and unpredictability.

Chelsea vs Real Madrid is undoubtedly the stand-out tie and a re-run of last season's semi-final, which the Blues won en route to lifting the trophy.

Real will naturally be a tough proposition - they are comfortably leading LaLiga and have all the European nous of manager Carlo Ancelotti in the dug-out.

Defending champions Chelsea take on Real Madrid in their quarter-final tie next month

Defending champions Chelsea take on Real Madrid in their quarter-final tie next month

Manchester City, beaten finalists last season, will start as favourites against Atletico Madrid but we all know how wily Diego Simeone's team can be, something Man United discovered in the round of 16.

Liverpool were handed a quarter-final against Benfica which will see them begin heavy favourites and if they progress, the winners of the Bayern Munich-Villarreal tie await them.

The Champions League has never let us down for entertainment and Europe's leading club competition isn't likely to start now.

First legs: Benfica vs Liverpool and Man City vs Atletico Madrid on April 5; Villarreal vs Bayern Munich and Chelsea vs Real Madrid on April 6. Return legs the following week. 

Bayern Munich, with the goals of Robert Lewandowski, will be a tough side to beat in Europe

Bayern Munich, with the goals of Robert Lewandowski, will be a tough side to beat in Europe

WEST HAM AND RANGERS GO FOR EUROPA LEAGUE GLORY

It's good to see British interest in the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League as well with West Ham and Rangers flying the flag.

The Hammers did brilliantly to overcome Europa specialists Sevilla in the last round and have now been drawn against French side Lyon in the quarter-finals.

Rangers beat Borussia Dortmund in and epic play-off round tie and then made pretty light work of Red Star Belgrade. Now it's Portuguese opposition in the form of Braga, which should be a winnable tie.

Barcelona are the stand-out name remaining in the draw, though, and they must get past Eintracht Frankfurt, while the other last eight tie pairs RB Leipzig and Atalanta.

While winning the trophy is obviously nice, many of these clubs will equally value the shot at Champions League football it also brings.

Quarter-final first legs: April 7; Second legs: April 14 

Declan Rice and Mark Noble celebrate West Ham's win over Sevilla in the Europa League

Declan Rice and Mark Noble celebrate West Ham's win over Sevilla in the Europa League

Rangers overcame Red Star Belgrade to set up a quarter-final tie against Braga

Rangers overcame Red Star Belgrade to set up a quarter-final tie against Braga 

WILL LEICESTER BE FIRST-EVER CONFERENCE LEAGUE CHAMPS?

Let's not forget about the UEFA Europa Conference League either with Leicester City in with a shout of becoming the first-ever winners of the competition.

When they dropped out of the Europa League, manager Brendan Rodgers didn't seem to know too much about the new tournament but his players have warmed to it in wins over Randers and Rennes.

Next up are PSV Eindhoven and with Leicester mid-table in the Premier League and with not a great deal to play for, they might as well go for glory and get a return pass to the Europa League next season.

The final will be staged in the Albanian capital of Tirana on May 25 and the likes of Marseille, Roma and Feyenoord are also still in the draw.

Quarter-final first legs: April 7; Second legs: April 14  

Leicester City beat Rennes to reach the last eight in the Conference League and take on PSV

Leicester City beat Rennes to reach the last eight in the Conference League and take on PSV

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