Photo Credit: Premier League
For all those who don’t know, in European soccer, there are ways to have a successful season without winning the title. Specifically, if you are a team in the Premier League (top league in England), finishing in the top 4 can often be considered a success.
This is because the biggest club competition in Europe, the Champions League, is comprised of (mostly) the top 4 finishers in each domestic league. For instance, whoever finishes top 4 in England’s top league, France’s top league, Germany’s top league, and etc… qualify for the Champions League for the following year.
Because this competition is so big and pulls in so much money for teams in terms of ticket money, merchandise, and sponsorship, teams will often 1. celebrate a top-4 finish as if they have won a trophy, and 2. owners of teams will often allocate extra money to the player transfer funds for the team IF they qualify for the Champions League.
Having said all this, this year’s English Premier League has two very interesting races: The race for the title, which is a clear two-horse race, between Liverpool and Manchester City, and the race for the top four, which is just as closely contested, between Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Chelsea.
Every team left in the top 6, excluding Liverpool, has played 32 matches, meaning they have 6 left until the end of the season- meaning there are 18 potential points on the table if they win out. Liverpool, who are currently leading City by 2 points, have played 33 matches, so there are only 15 potential points on the table for them. (Remember: 3 points for each win, 1 for a tie, 0 for a loss). So, my prediction for the top 6 is as follows:
- Manchester City (96 points) I believe City will walk away with the title for the second consecutive season. They are on a very hot streak, having won 8 games in a row. Their only potential downfall could be the huge number of games they will have to play in the upcoming month, as they are still alive in the Champions League, and the FA Cup
- Liverpool (95 points) Liverpool are in their greatest chance in years to win the title, and they seemingly have luck on their side as well, as evidenced by unconventional last second wins this season against Everton and Tottenham. However, with the fact that they are still alive in the Champions League, and playing an inferior team meaning they will have to manage the semifinals of that competition with managing the Premier League, I do not see them being able to manage all this and win all their remaining games, which is what I think they need to do to take the league.
- Tottenham Hotspur (79 points) Spurs are in a decent position to finish top 4 after a rough middle part of the season saw them lose their title chances by the beginning of 2019. However, having to play City 3 times within 3 weeks (1 Premier League and 2 Champions League games) will be very difficult on their chances to win the Premier League game, and I believe they will drop that one, but still win enough to finish in the top 4.
- Arsenal (78 points) Arsenal, almost inarguably, has the easiest remaining schedule of any of the top-6 teams. They don’t have to play any of the other top 5, and 4 of their remaining games are against teams in the bottom half of the League table. However, 4 of the 6 they have left are away games, and they have been in dreadful form in away games, emphasized by Sunday’s 1-0 loss to an Everton team that is almost 20 points behind them in the table. So, it should be a struggle to the finish, but I believe they will pick up enough wins to scrape out a top-4 finish
- Chelsea/United: (76 points each) These two teams have the toughest schedules left of any top-6 team. They both have to play another top-6 team twice (Chelsea plays @ Liverpool and @ United, United plays at home to City and Chelsea), added to the fact that they are ALSO both still alive in European competitions (Chelsea in the Europa League, United in the Champions League). Both teams will likely deal with a lot of fatigue problems in this last month, therefore, and I think this will keep each of them from making the run to the top-4.
There you have it, my predictions for the top 4 this season… It should be a very exciting finish to this season, so definitely stay tuned in to the Premier League until the end!