Premier League battle for the top four

With the 2016-17 Premier League season ending on May 21, there is just under a month left. While nothing can live up to last year’s title race that ended with Leicester pulling off the improbable, it has still been an entertaining year. With the relegation battle almost settled, the only race still going on is the battle for the last couple Champions League spots.

The reason why the Champions League is so important is because it is another trophy for teams to compete for. It puts Europe’s best teams against each other. Finally, it is used as an incentive to sign players in the transfer window.

This is the current Premier League top six as of April 27:

Team GP W D L GD Points
Chelsea 33 25 3 5 40 78
Tottenham 33 22 8 3 47 74
Liverpool 34 19 9 6 28 66
Manchester City 33 19 8 6 28 65
Manchester United 33 17 13 3 26 64
Arsenal 32 18 6 8 24 60
Key: GP= Games Played, GD= Goal Difference

Chelsea

Games Left: 5

Opponents: @ Everton (4/30), vs. Middlesbrough (5/8), @ West Brom (5/12), vs. Watford (5/15), vs. Sunderland (5/21)

Analysis: At one point in the season, Chelsea had a 13 point lead. It looked as if Antonio Conte was going to lead Chelsea to a title in his first season in the Premier League. Then, Chelsea suffered a shocking 2-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace, and were then demolished by Manchester United in a 2-0 loss. Now, their lead has dwindled to a mere four points. Chelsea’s last five games are not difficult. The only hiccup could happen at Everton. Aside from that, the rest of their games are easy. Chelsea should see out their last five games and be raising the trophy by the end of the season, barring any major slip-ups.   


Tottenham

Games Left: 5

Opponents: vs. Arsenal (4/30), @ West Ham (5/5), vs. Man United (5/14), @ Leicester City (5/18), @ Hull City (5/21)

Analysis: For the second year in a row, Tottenham are in the title race. Last year, they were competing against Leicester City, but slipped in their last few games and ended the season in third. This year, Tottenham will use last year’s title race as a lesson and motivation to put pressure on Chelsea. The North London Derby against Arsenal could determine whether or not they are fake challengers this year. If Tottenham cannot get the win against their local rivals, the title is likely lost. However, if they can win, that would show the rest of the league that they are for real. Very similar to Liverpool’s situation, Tottenham have to keep winning and put pressure on Chelsea to keep the title race alive.


Liverpool

Games Left: 4

Opponents: @ Watford (5/1), vs. Southampton (5/7), @ West Ham (5/14), vs. Middlesbrough (5/21)

Analysis: Liverpool have the most favorable schedule out of any other team in the top six. The only problem is that Liverpool do not play well against the teams in the bottom half of the table. All six of their losses have come against teams in the bottom half. Liverpool had two wins in which they showed some improvement against bottom tier teams, a 1-0 win against West Brom and 2-1 win against Stoke. However, all of that hard work was undone after a disappointing 2-1 loss at home to Crystal Palace last Sunday. With the least amount of games left compared to the other top six, the objective is simple for Jürgen Klopp’s men: just win. If Liverpool can win their last four matches, then it will put pressure on the teams below them to keep up. It is just whether or not the Liverpool players have the fortitude to pull this off.   


Manchester City

Games Left: 5

Opponents: @ Middlesbrough (4/30), vs. Crystal Palace (5/6), vs. Leicester City (5/13), vs. West Brom (5/16), @ Watford (5/21)

Analysis: At times this season, Manchester City have looked like the best team in the league, but there have also been extremely low points for Pep Guardiola’s men. They certainly have the talent and an easy schedule to stay in the top four, but Guardiola will be telling his men to aim for third. As inconsistent as they have been this season, City should not be complacent in fourth. Manchester United has not lost a game in the Premier League since Oct. 23 (13W ,11D). With a healthy Gabriel Jesus and an in-form Sergio Aguero, City will try to fire their way past Liverpool in third and secure Champions League soccer for next season.


Manchester United

Games Left: 5

Opponents: vs. Swansea (4/30), @ Arsenal (5/7), @ Tottenham (5/14), @ Southampton (5/17), vs. Crystal Palace (5/21)

Analysis: United have a tricky last five games. The home games against Swansea and Crystal Palace look easy, but those teams are fighting to avoid relegation from the Premier League. On top of that, United have to play at Arsenal and Tottenham. Arsenal are top four competition, while Tottenham are currently in a title race with Chelsea. So there will be stiff competition in four of United’s last five games. What makes their top four push even trickier is the massive amount of injuries and suspensions that United have to deal with. Center backs Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo are all out for the season. Talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also gone for the season. Finally, midfielder Marouane Fellaini will likely be suspended three matches after he headbutted Man City’s Sergio Aguero.


Arsenal

Games Left: 6

Opponents: @ Tottenham (4/30), vs. Man United (5/7), @ Southampton (5/10), @ Stoke City (5/13), vs. Sunderland (5/16), vs. Everton (5/21)

Analysis: This season has not been kind to Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal team. Fans have been constantly protesting on whether or not to keep Wenger as manager. Arsenal have been poor against the top six this season. Their only win came against Chelsea on Sept. 24, way back in the beginning of the season. Since then, Arsenal have not beaten a top six side. So on that merit alone, Arsenal do not deserve to be in the top four. With six games left, Arsenal still have a chance to reach the top four, if they win out. This season could still be salvaged if Arsenal reach the top four and win the FA Cup final against Chelsea on May 27.