The race for the top four position is set to go down the wire with the concluded round of fixtures indicating that there are still places up for grabs in the bid to secure Champions League football next season.
Chelsea made a massive statement of intent by grabbing a narrow 1-0 victory against Liverpool at home, while fellow top 4 rivals Spurs lost by the same scoreline to relegation-threatened West-Brom. With United set to seal the second position, the race for the remaining spots may be decided on the final day of the League.
A few weeks ago, most Liverpool fans would have doubted their current League position considering they were in a fantastic situation to seal Champions League football. However, their involvement in Europe has slightly hampered their League form acknowledging the hectic fixtures and loss of key players to injury. The Reds are currently on a four-game winless streak in the League and are finding it difficult to replicate their swashbuckling attacking style of football which could be attributed to fatigue, a thin squad and lackluster defending.
In the fixture vs. Chelsea, you could sense the players were still basking in the Euphoria of qualifying for the Champions League finals. Most of the players were scared of losing their places in the finals to injury. One can make an argument that they were the better side in the game but Klopp and his lads still haven’t figured out a Plan B of beating teams that are bent on defending just like the resilient Chelsea side on Sunday.
Chances: High. The Reds like it the hard way.
The Reds are well placed to secure Champions League football next season. The only need to beat Brighton on the last day to seal that position. It could be nerve-wracking, but they were in a similar situation last season when they needed to beat Boro to confirm 4th position ahead of Arsenal. They can draw from the experience to see them through.
Champions League Final: In the worst case scenario, Liverpool could still be in Europe’s top-tier competition even if they fail to qualify via the League route by winning the trophy in Kiev.
Just like the Reds, Spurs have been somewhat lethargic and inconsistent in their League form. The Londoners seem to be suffering from the psychological blow of their F.A Cup and Champions League exit notably the F.A Cup semi-final where they were tipped to win the trophy but ended losing to United in what culminated to a record of eight semi-final losses in their club history.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men have failed to live up to the billing in the past few weeks despite beating the Hornets at home. The Londoners would have overtaken Liverpool on the log with a win against the Baggies, but they were outfoxed by Darren Moore’s men leaving them only two points ahead of Chelsea with two games to play.
Tottenham Hotspurs only need to win their remaining two home games against Newcastle and Leicester City to seal a top-four slot.
Many fans thought the Blues were destined for the Europa League after going 10 points behind Liverpool. Even though Antonio Conte’s side have suffered a couple of demoralizing home losses to the likes of Burnley and Bournemouth this season, the Italian gaffer deserves some plaudits for bridging the point gap and rekindling the hope of booking a top-four spot.
A run of four successive wins and slip-ups from fellow rivals have seen the West-Londoners close the gap on the log. However, they need results to go their way to have a chance of sneaking into that top four even if they get the job done on their side.
Chances: Slim. Too little too late for the Blues?
Chelsea players have performed brilliantly by piling up the pressure on the other rivals with their consistent wins in recent weeks. However, they still have to navigate a tricky home tie against David Wagner’s Huddersfield before an away trip to Newcastle on the last day.
With Liverpool and Spurs boasting a superior goal difference ahead of Conte’s men, the Blues will be relying on a few slip-ups from the others to secure a ticket for Champions League next season. It may look difficult on paper but in football, you never know…