We analyse all the potential eventualities which may occur in the race for top four, with Arsenal, Man United, Man City and Liverpool vying for two spots.
The Premier League is lauded in the whole footballing world as the most competitive league and it has often panned out the same. However, in the entire history of the Premier League, never have we seen a possibility where Arsenal and Manchester United may lose out on a place in the top four.
Liverpool and Manchester City are currently in the lead, sitting third and fourth respectively. But, with only 2-3 games remaining for each of the four sides, everything is wide open, with just 5 points separating sixth-placed Manchester United from third-placed Liverpool.
We at The Hard Tackle provide you with all the potential eventualities which may occur in the top-four race. But first let us take a look at who each of them are scheduled to face in the run up to the end of the current campaign.
Liverpool – 36 Matches 70 Points + 29 Goal Difference
Liverpool are possibly best primed to make it to the top four, despite having played a game more than all the other teams in the race for the top four. The Reds do face a tough test at the London Stadium against West Ham but if their final match – a home game against Middlesbrough – seems like a pretty easy fixture.
However, Liverpool fans are all too familiar with their side’s inability to brush aside relatively weaker opposition, which may come back to haunt them. West Ham, though, will not be an easy fixture by any means. The Hammers will be looking to secure a win, which would catapult them to ninth on the table depending on other results.
Liverpool will have to be wary of Adama Traore, too, in their match against Middlesbrough. The winger will be eager to give a good account of himself in order to generate interest in his ability, which could see him secure Premier League football for himself for the next campaign.
Manchester City – 35 Matches 69 Points + 33 Goal Difference
In all fairness, Manchester City are better placed than Liverpool, having played a game less. However, in such a crunch phase, points matter more than games in hand, which sees Liverpool edge them. City, though, have a more complicated run-in compared to Liverpool.
They first have to face the resurgent Leicester City, who are looking to overlap West Bromwich Albion to eighth on the table. The game against the Foxes will be followed by a trip to the Hawthorns. West Brom are winless in the last two months or so but if they do manage a point or three against Chelsea over the weekend, their form could see them be a threat to Guardiola and his men.
Their last fixture is also far from a piece of cake. Watford have been poor but have the ability to shock the opposition on the day and the Citizens will have to be wary of the threat they possess.
Arsenal – 35 Matches 66 Points + 26 Goal Difference
Their win against Manchester United have given the Gunners a newfound hope of making it into the top four, especially given the opponents they are set to face. Arsenal are away to Stoke in their first game of the weekend, which will be followed by Sunderland at home.
However, their toughest fixture would be when they welcome Everton in the final game of the season. The Toffees do not have anything to play for, sitting comfortably at seventh. However, they would be eager to finish their season on a high.
Also, Romelu Lukaku has been linked with a summer exit and the Belgian would be eager to give a blockbuster performance in what could just be his last Premier League game in an Everton shirt.
Manchester United – 35 Matches 65 Points +24 Goal Difference
Jose Mourinho seems to have sacrificed the race for the top four in favour of the Europa League – a competition which provides entry into the UEFA Champions League to its winner. United are already in the final and are unlikely to risk too much in the league leading up to the final against Ajax.
However, they are still in with a shout to secure a top-four finish. United, though, have the most difficult run-in, with the Red Devils set to go to the White Hart Lane to face Tottenham before another away trip to Southampton, which was followed by a season-ender against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
United already have a lot of injuries but Eric Bailly’s unavailability for the final against Ajax could see Mourinho field the player in all of the league matches and if Jose Mourinho intends of giving Marcus Rashford some rest, Anthony Martial could spearhead the attack.
The Potential Eventualities
How many spots can be decided over the weekend ?
1 – Liverpool Win, Manchester United Lose, Arsenal Draw – Liverpool would secure top-four finish.
How many points do Manchester City need to secure a place in the top-four ?
7 – Manchester City need 7 points from 3 games to secure a place in the top-four.
Which team can afford to drop points this weekend?
Manchester City – With their superior goal difference over the other three, even if they lose Arsenal will come level on points with them and it is unlikely that the Gunners will be able to neutralise the +7 Goal difference in just one game.
Team most likely to end in Top Four
Manchester City – The Citizens are fourth, one point behind Liverpool. But, with a game in hand and their recent form, Guardiola’s men are likely to book one of the two places for themselves.
Team Most Likely to bow out of the top-four race over the weekend?
Manchester United – The Red Devils face Tottenham – the toughest of all opponents the top four aspirants face this weekend and Jose Mourinho will also be handing rest to some of the players who started on Thursday, which all but confirms United’s approach going into the game and a defeat will ensure United are out of the race.