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With just 13 games left in the Premier League season the title race is looking clear and the only real question which other sides will occupy the Champions League qualification spots. Manchester City are 10 points clear at the top of the league and despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s recent comments, City will be crowned champions once again.
Manchester United are six points clear of fifth and barring a meltdown should make the top four, while Leicester have been one of the teams of the season and are surely too strong for a repeat of last season where they fell out of the top four late in the campaign. On that basis let’s have a look at the contenders for the final spot.
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The surprise package this year and amazing to think that this time last season it looked like a return to the Championship was on the cards. David Moyes has done an incredible job and they sit in fourth place on 45 points. They are out of all cup competitions which gives them a big advantage on their rivals.
They are also one of the teams that may have benefited from playing their home games in an empty stadium. It’s safe to say the London Stadium as a new home hasn’t worked for West Ham to date and you could imagine the toxic atmosphere there with the shaky start they made to the season.
While there are plenty of positives they have a really tough fixture list coming up with away games to both Manchester teams. They also face Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester and Everton at home. A Europa League spot will be a massive achievement for the Hammers.
Thomas Tuchel has certainly hit the ground running with a brilliant start to life at Stamford Bridge. Recent results are obviously encouraging and he has focused on discipline both on and off the pitch. It is showing on the field and their defence looks better than it has done for some time.
While it’s impressive, he has been lucky with a kind run of fixtures in the Premier League and the FA Cup. Things are about to heat up in the coming weeks though with games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Everton.
Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester are also down the line for Tuchel’s men. Throw in a return date with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and they certainly have the toughest run-in.
The team that has suffered most from having no fans in the stadiums. Aside from their disastrous run of injuries to key players, an empty Anfield has also played its part in the fall from grace. Jurgen Klopp is snappy under pressure and they have problems all over the pitch.
As big a loss as Virgil van Dijk is, Diogo Jota’s injury was also a huge blow. When Jota was flying just before Christmas, Liverpool were top of the table having destroyed Crystal Palace 7-0. They have a crucial match at home to Chelsea which could determine the race for fourth.
Jota, Fabinho and Naby Keita are all set to return which will give everyone a much-needed lift. In normal circumstances, they have an easy run-in and I expect them to go on a winning run. They’re away to Sheffield Utd and at home to Chelsea in their next two games. If they get six points they can still make the top four.
Everton are five points off fourth with a game in hand on their rivals. Carlo Ancelotti has done a brilliant job and they are also still in the FA Cup. However, they face a daunting task against Manchester City in the quarter-final.
The Toffees have tough fixtures in the Premier League too. They’re away to Chelsea and face Manchester City away on the final day of the season, while their inconsistency against the weaker teams will see them eventually come up short.
As always it’s going to be an exciting run-in and no doubt it will change a few times before the end of the season. However, I see Liverpool sneaking the fourth spot, joining Manchester City, Manchester United and Leicester, in that order.
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