|Image Source: Daily Mail|
As we enter the business end of the season, the matches get tenser, the timer goes off, and only the strongest prevail. This has been one of the closest Premier League campaigns we have witnessed in a while. Liverpool and Manchester City’s title bid will go down to the last day of the season while Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United fight it out for the top 4 spots. As we know, the third place spot automatically qualifies for the Champions League next season, the fourth placed team qualifies for a play-offs spot and the fifth and sixth placed teams qualify for the Europa League.
As it stands, Tottenham are in third place with 61 points, Arsenal are fourth with 60 points, Manchester United are fifth with 58 points and Chelsea are in sixth with 57 points and a game in hand. Clearly, one slip up by even one of these teams will change the dynamics of the table completely. It is very difficult to predict which teams will emerge on top, but with just 8 games to it is still possible to make a calculated estimation. This is how I think it will pan out.
|Source: Sky Sports|
3rd – Arsenal
4th – Manchester United
5th – Tottenham Hotspurs
6th – Chelsea
Starting from the top, I feel Arsenal will take the third spot for various reasons. First, they don’t have any top 6 fixture left. Their only tough games are Watford away, Everton away and Leicester away. They also have to face Crystal Palace at home. While all these aren’t really tough fixtures, they’re bogey teams. If Arsenal can get through these fixtures without considerable damage, they will definitely take the third spot. Also, I don’t see them going too far in the Europa League which will make them place all their eggs in the top 4 basket.
In fourth place, I see us just making the top 4. Our tough fixtures are Wolves away, Everton away, Man City and Chelsea at home. On top of this, we have the FA Cup and the Champions League to worry about. But with our key players coming back from injury and some fringe players like McTominay and Pereira proving their worth, I think we should come out unhurt.
Just missing out on top 4 are Spurs. The defeat at Burnley was the figurative downfall of Tottenham, in my opinion. Since then, they are yet to win in the league, even losing to Southampton. They went from challenging for the title to fighting for top 4 in a very questionably short time. With trips to Liverpool and Man City remaining, I don’t see them making top 4 this season.
Lastly, I feel Chelsea will look to the Europa League for their dose of Champions League football next season. They have games against Everton, Liverpool, United, Watford, and Leicester left. Along with the long trips to Eastern Europe, they play 5 more away games in the league. All this will take a toll on them and the fatigue will be their downfall.
So that’s how I think the Premier League table will look at the end of the season. Obviously a lot can change, primarily because this is the Premier League. Anything can happen here and nothing should be ruled out. I believe that if we don’t have anymore injuries to key players, Solskjaer can get us top 4 football, something that felt so elusive in November or December. Anyway, there’s a lot to play for and hopefully we can make it to the Champions League next season, an FA Cup win or trips to Wembley will just be a bonus.