It seems the inevitable is just around the corner. Manchester City is certain to be crowned champions of the English Premier League well before the season ends in May. Anyone who thought City would slip after their defeat at Anfield (We tried) or any other team like United (LOL) would step up to challenge them was mistaken. This season has been Manchester City’s, done and dusted.
That’s not what makes this season’s EPL interesting, however. With over a dozen points ahead of the rest of the pack, the coronation of City is merely a formality. What’s exciting is who’ll get relegated from the League. What’s even more exciting is who’ll finish second, third and fourth, in line for a berth in the Champions League next season.
So, here’s a low down on the fixtures and chances for each team in contention. For the sole purpose of making up words, I shall include Arsenal too.
To anyone who thought this season would be a slugfest between the Red and Blue of Manchester, LOL. It hasn’t even been close. To United’s credit though, they have done pretty well to strengthen their hold on the 2nd position despite the growing discontent with their style of play under Mourinho at times.
United are a troubling team. They are capable of performing efficient performances as they did against Chelsea but, also able to give performances that put fans to sleep (see their CL match against Sevilla). With players like Pogba, Sanchez, Lukaku and the world’s best keeper in De Gea, it’s difficult to see United slip up often. This, despite their CL commitments. And sure, their remaining fixtures include visits from Liverpool and City but, probably won’t be enough to shake them off the 2nd place perch.
A team that has one of the best attacks in Europe coupled with a defense that is more in line with a bottom six club. Liverpool has largely impressed in the CL, despite their calamitous 3-3 draw with Sevilla. They have impressed in the Premier League too, with victories over champions-elect City and a more recent ability to beat teams who sit with a back six.
Alas, Liverpool still has its defensive frailties to take care of. Van Dijk has done a decent job but, a single CB won’t do. Liverpool is prone to make simple mistakes and its keeper, Lorius Karius hasn’t done enough yet to merit the Kop’s 100% confidence.
The Reds will surge through the round of 16 and may just go some way in the CL. In the PL, however, where teams are more likely to sit back and defend with ten men behind, it’s difficult to see Liverpool displace United for the 2nd position. Especially considering they are yet to visit Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, alongside matches against West Brom and Crystal Palace, teams LFC have recently struggled against.
And because it’s Liverpool, I can’t even say with the utmost confidence if Liverpool can hang onto 3rd. After all, Spurs are only 2 behind and Chelsea 4. Those are some great teams at our tail.
Liverpool and Spurs have one common characteristic; the inability to crack teams that sit back and defend with ten men. Whereas Liverpool’s attack is a blitzkrieg led by all three of its front line, Spurs is headed by Englishman, Harry Kane. Like Liverpool, Spurs have flirted with moments of brilliance and frustration.
Despite their great showing in the CL, consistency in the English Premier League eludes them. And this is bound to continue with the kind of fixtures lined up. Spurs are yet to meet City and Chelsea the second time as well as a visit from former champions, Leicester.
One of the primary factors why it’s unlikely that Spurs will end higher than 4th is because how dependent they seem to be on Harry Kane (an argument with some merit) and Christian Eriksen. Dele Alli, for all his talent, is inconsistent with his diving performances having more flair than his play.
Chelsea was the best team by a mile last season in the Premier League. And sure, their dominance pales in comparison to City’s this season but, after a turbulent 2015-16 season in the wake of Mourinho’s departure, Conte has developed Chelsea into a more efficient footballing machine.
However, this season is not last season. The goals have dried up and defensively, Chelsea seems to have holes. Kante seems to have lost some shine and despite Conte not admitting it, Chelsea does miss the sheer drive and physicality of Diego Costa up front (for all his talents, Morata isn’t cutting it). Resounding defeats to Burnley and Watford only seem to highlight these points.
On the other hand, you see Chelsea performing the way it did against Barcelona. A simple mistake was all it took for Barca to equalize but for much of the game, the Blues did overrun and neuter Barca’s vaunted forward line.
This is a team capable of so much more and despite the recent defeat to United, I think they might do better. Especially Hazard, if he’s leaning for a move to Madrid. I’d have Chelsea and Liverpool battling it out for 3rd and 4th in the Premier League.
As I said, just here for the sake of it. Not only are they in danger of missing a CL playoff spot but, they may even be out of Europe next season if they don’t finish 5th. Winning the Europa may be out of the question too, considering they face AC Milan next and may just face Borussia Dortmund and Athletico Madrid down the road.
If the League Cup final defeat and the manner of it is any indication, don’t expect a lot from Arsenal. And that is a shame. Not only for all the talent in their ranks but, for the great Arsene Wenger who may just be in his final season. Don’t see any glory, Premier League or otherwise.
Well, at least there’s ArsenalFanTV
Image Sources: Google Images
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