Premier League 2020/21: Final Four Games & Champions League qualification – originally posted on Sportslens.com
The closing stages of the Premier League are fast approaching, and there isn’t much left to play for.
Manchester City are one win away from wrapping up the title, while Fulham and West Bromwich Albion need to be almost perfect to stand a chance of survival.
However, the race for the Champions League places is still wide open. Man City have already booked their place in next year’s competition, and Manchester United are also looking pretty secure.
This leaves two remaining spots, with up to six clubs fighting to make it into the top four. Here is how each of these clubs’ run-in looks like.
Current position: 3rd, 63 points
As of now, Leicester’s position is the most secure. With just four games remaining, they sit five points clear of fifth place.
However, they have arguably the toughest run-in of the competing six clubs. They face Newcastle United next, who are not yet safe, and then follow this up with a trip to Old Trafford.
Their final two games of the season also come up against ‘Big Six’ opposition, facing Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur. Not to mention, they’ve got an FA Cup final to worry about, also against Chelsea.
Brendan Rodgers’ men narrowly missed out on a Champions League spot last season, having looked nailed on for a top-four place at one point. They will be hoping to exorcise that demon this time around.
Current position: 4th, 61 points
Under Frank Lampard, Chelsea’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were looking slim. They sat in ninth place when the club legend was axed.
The appointment of Thomas Tuchel has turned their fortunes around, and they now look on course to reach the top four.
Barring one nightmare afternoon against West Brom, the German has had an excellent time in the Premier League. In his 15 league outings, Tuchel has accumulated 32 points, keeping 11 clean sheets.
Much like Leicester, the Blues also have a tough final four fixtures. They begin with a trip to Champions-elect Man City, before a home game against Arsenal.
Their final two come against Leicester and Aston Villa. From the reverse fixtures, Chelsea picked up just one point.
In addition, Tuchel also has two other major trophies to worry about. They face Leicester in the FA Cup final and have an upcoming Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, as well as a possible final.
If they finish outside the top four but win the Champions League, they will still qualify, and the team in fourth will drop down into the Europa League.
West Ham United
Current position: 5th, 58 points
No one really knows how this happened, but West Ham have ended up in fifth place. As things stand, they are on course to equal their best-ever Premier League finish. And they’ve done it all without a natural striker.
Back-to-back defeats against Newcastle and Chelsea put their challenge for the top four in doubt, but a victory away at Burnley on Monday night has got them right back among the contenders.
Their next fixture comes at home to Everton before finishing against Brighton and Hove Albion, West Brom and Southampton.
It is highly likely that all of the last three will have nothing to play for. And, with no other distractions, it would be unwise to underestimate the Hammers.
Should he guide them to a Champions League place, David Moyes would be the favourite for the Manager of the Year award.
Current position: 6th, 56 points
Remember when Tottenham were top of the league? Feels like so long ago now.
The Lilywhites have been pretty poor since their defeat at Anfield back in December but still have a chance of reaching the Champions League.
They will fancy themselves to win their next three, coming up against Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa. They end the season with a potentially decisive away game against Leicester.
Champions League qualification could be vital for Spurs. Recent reports suggested that star man Harry Kane would seek a move away from the club if they fail to finish inside the top four.
Current position: 7th, 54 points (with a game in hand)
Liverpool’s title defence has been a bit of a car crash. They started off fine, finding themselves top of the table at Christmas, but have since gone on a nightmare run. It’s a good thing that no writers expected them to run away with it again (*GULP*).
Despite their calamitous home form, which has seen them win just one of the last their last ten league games at Anfield, they still aren’t out of the contest.
Sunday’s postponed fixture against Man United is their toughest remaining fixture. The other four come against Southampton, West Brom, Burnley and Crystal Palace. Jurgen Klopp should be aiming for at least 13 points from these games.
Current position: 8th, 52 points (with a game in hand)
Four games into the season, and it looked like Everton fans were in for a season to remember. They had a 100% record, scoring 12 goals.
Things haven’t been so smooth since then, but they still stand a chance of making the top four – although their recent run of one win in their last six has put this in doubt.
On Sunday, they travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham. If they lose this, then their Champions League chase is all but over.
If they win, however, then they could be right back in the mix. They face Aston Villa away, before welcoming Sheffield United and Wolves to Goodison Park.
They finish the season with a trip to the Etihad Stadium, against a Man City side who will almost certainly be lifting the Premier League trophy on that day.