Chelsea dispatched West Ham in style today, with their star play maker Eden Hazard scoring two wonderful goals to send his team in third position. With five games remaining for Chelsea and six for fellow top four contenders (Spurs, United and Arsenal), this year promises a fantastic rat race for the Champions League spots on top of the ongoing title race between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Let’s see which teams are most likely to qualify for the Champions League.
Next five games: Liverpool (A), Burnley (H), ManUtd (A), Watford (H), Leicester City (A)
I expect Sarri’s men to come out of Anfield bloodied but with a point to show for it. They will then defeat Burnley in a narrow win. The trip to Manchester United will end in defeat. United have not beaten Top 7 opposition the whole season – I expect them to finally do so in this game. A couple wins to end the season and Chelsea will have amassed 76 points.
Next six games: Huddersfield (H), Manchester City (A), Brighton (H), West Ham (H), Bournemouth (A), Everton (H)
I believe Pochettino’s men will finish the season strongly with 4 wins, 1 draw (against Everton in the last game) and 1 defeat (obviously the away game at ManCity), meaning they end up with 77 points, one more than Chelsea.
Next six games: Watford (A), Crystal Palace (H), Wolves (A), Leicester City (A), Brighton (H), Burnley FC (A)
On paper, Arsenal has the easiest run-in with no top six opposition on the horizon. In reality however, Arsenal fans know too well how this team can crumble when it matters most. Away games have not been their forte this season and I expect this problem to persist. Watford, Wolves and Leicester are going to be tough away games and Arsenal might draw them all and win their other three games, resulting in a total of 75 points.
Next six games: West Ham (H), Everton (A), City (H), Chelsea (H), Huddersfield (A), Cardiff (H)
Manchester United have been the best team in the EPL ever since Solskjaer took over but the huge number points dropped before he joined means they are still in sixth position. The Norwegian manager mentioned his teams needs 15 points from a potential 18 to earn a place in the top four. I think United will get those 15 points, with 5 wins and a defeat at home to Manchester City.
However, this might not enough to get a top four spot.
United would end up with 76 points, similar to Chelsea, meaning Spurs end up third and Arsenal sixth. Now, Chelsea currently have a better goal difference (23 against United’s 18). United may run riot in the last two games and fill this gap but it’s highly unlikely.
My take on the top four race is that Spurs and Chelsea will take the Champions League spots.
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Picture from flickr