Prediction: Premier League’s Top Four At The End Of The 2018/19 Season
The second half of the Premier League campaign is underway and the competition between the top six as the fiercest we’ve known in recent years. Liverpool and Manchester City are contesting for the title, while Spurs are hovering just behind as somewhat ‘pretenders’.
Mauricio Pochettino has conceded that his team aren’t seriously involved in the title race nor should they really be expected to be, given the lack of funds available to the Argentine boss.
There is a clearer fight to fill that final Champions League spot between Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United with six points separating those three teams. The Red Devils have enjoyed a mini-renaissance since the arrival of the ‘Baby Face Assasin’ – Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
The Norwegian has been brought in as interim boss following the sacking of Jose Mourinho and has led Man Utd to five consecutive wins in all competitions.
Below, we take an educated guess as which clubs will make up the holy grail that is the top four.
1.Manchester City (Champions)
Pep Guardiola’s men won the crucial battle at the Etihad Stadium and it seems like a pivotal moment in the title race. There comes a point in a championship race where, in hindsight, we can point to that specific moment as a significant shift in the balance.
Man City still trail the Reds by four points, but with their main players back to full fitness as well as the title-winning experience in their squad, I fancy them to pip Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Jurgen Klopp’s transformation of this Liverpool has been remarkable given their previous league finishes under his tutelage since his arrival in 2015. They squeezed past Manchester City to lead the pack in recent weeks, capitalising on the champion’s poor run of form as they suffered three defeats in four games.
However, they’re yet to win a trophy under the former Dortmund manager and their league drought stands just short of three decades.
Given how close the Reds were to getting their hands on the prize in 2014 and what subsequently transpired, they will always have to prove they’re mentally ready by going all the way.
Tottenham Hotspur are the best of the rest. Mauricio Pochettino has established Spurs as a bonafide top-four side since his arrival in 2014, qualifying for the Champions League in all but his first campaign in charge.
Having not spent money on a single player last summer, Pochettino has had to manoeuvre through a number of obstacles. The north Londoners are yet to play a game at their new stadium with the plans for the new ground causing further disruptions.
Also, it seems the budget for the stadium was much more than the board anticipated which has caused a lack of funds.
Nevertheless, everything seems to be going right for Spurs on the pitch.
I back Unai Emery to lead Arsenal back into the Champions League next term and that’s mainly due to the Gunners’ run-in at the end of the season. Their last eight Premier League fixtures are as follows: Wolves (a), Newcastle (h), Everton (a), Watford (a), Crystal Palace (h), Leicester City (a), Brighton (h), Burnley (a).
There are a few potential banana skins in there, but Arsenal would be disappointed should they fail to pick up maximum points from a potential 24 points. Judging by their current form, they’ll probably need to.
Chelsea are having an odd campaign this term which is likely fuelled by the uncertainty surrounding their talisman Eden Hazard. Also, unlike their top six rivals, Chelsea are susceptible to the odd result against teams they should beat.
The Blues have picked up one point from their last two Premier League home games against Leicester City and Southampton respectively.
As for Manchester United, despite their recent purple patch, tougher tests lie in wait to see if they’ve turned a new leaf. They were always expected to beat the four teams they faced during the festive period, but now the real hard work starts.