With 6 games to go in the Premier League, just 13 points separate 3rd placed Leicester City and 13th placed Newcastle United. In one of the most topsy-turvy seasons in the Premier League era, there are realistically four teams fighting it out for a place in next years Champions League.
Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves all currently occupy 3rd to 6th in the league, with just three points separating them all. Amazingly, all four teams will compete against one another on the final day of the season which could add yet another phenomenal twist to the race. I’m going to try to predict the rest of the season’s results for these four sides, and see how it leaves the Premier League table come the end of it.
LEICESTER CITY 1-1 Crystal Palace
MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 Bournemouth
WOLVES 1-0 Arsenal
CHELSEA 2-1 Watford
All four teams will be at home this Saturday and I expect them all to pick up points. Leicester’s poor form was extended when they were beaten by Everton, meaning they have still only won three games in the league since Boxing Day. They’ll host Crystal Palace who are coming off the back of a 1-0 defeat to Burnley. The big issue Leicester have had recently is that they’ve really struggled to score goals. Jamie Vardy has scored just twice since December and Palace are always resolute defensively. It’ll be another tough outing and I think with their current woes it could be another frustrating game for Brendan Rodgers’ side.
Manchester United and Chelsea should land relatively routine wins at home to relegation strugglers Bournemouth and Watford, which would see Chelsea leapfrog Leicester in the table and United close the gap to just one point.
Wolves’ fixture against Arsenal is a tough one to call. Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have been in fine form since the resumption of the league and have given themselves every chance of making it into the Top 4. Arsenal have been hit and miss, but their last two results have seen them win both games and keep back-to-back clean sheets. While I think the Midlands side will be able to grind out another win, it won’t be easy.
Crystal Palace 0-1 CHELSEA
Arsenal 1-0 LEICESTER CITY
Shefffield United 1-1 WOLVES
Aston Villa 0-2 MANCHESTER UNITED
More dropped points for Leicester as Arsenal will likely have a big say on this run-in. Arsenal seem to do a bit better against sides that come forward against them and Rodgers’ side will certainly do so. Goalscoring woes will continue and Arsenal will sneak a win thanks to the clinical nature of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
In a similar fixture to Leicester and Palace, when Chelsea travel to South London they’ll be in for a tough time. While Palace are strong defensively, they’re not the best going forward. Chelsea are very good on the ball and they’ll manage to find a way through the defence eventually for a tight win.
Wolves will once again have a tough fixture and they’ll drop points in this one. Sheffield United were in this race too until a poor run after the league’s resumption saw them trickle out. They will be a very tough test for Wolves, as both line up with a similar 3-5-2 formation and rely on defensive stability to usher them through the game. I think the home advantage will be enough for the Blades to be able to take something from this game.
At Villa Park, Manchester United will be too strong for this Villa side. With Dean Smith’s team fighting relegation, they’ll have to come out looking for points against Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side and that will leave them open for attacks. United have looked professional and clinical so far since the restart and that will continue here.
Sheffield United 1-1 CHELSEA
WOLVES 2-1 Everton
Bournemouth 0-2 LEICESTER CITY
MANCHESTER UNITED 2-1 Southampton
While Sheffield United are probably not in the race anymore, they’ll have a big say on what happens. Another home game against a contender and I think they’ll take points off Chelsea too. In a similar fashion to what I expect in the Wolves game, the Blades will have their moments and Chelsea’s shaky defence will fold at some point. Their attacking talent should see them break through but I think it’ll be a tight affair.
Wolves will get back to winning ways with a big win over Everton. The Merseysiders have enough quality in their team to beat anyone on their day, but their away form this season hasn’t been great. Wolves’ organisation should see them hold firm defensively and they should be able to find the net for a big 3 points.
At the Vitality Stadium, Leicester will finally get back to winning ways. Bournemouth are in awful, awful form and are likely to get relegated. It won’t be quite confirmed yet by this point, but they’ll need a win and that will leave gaps for Leicester to exploit. Jamie Vardy will find the back of the net if he’s available to play and give his side a huge 3 points.
Manchester United will continue their fine form too. Southampton will come to Old Trafford already safe from relegation and will cause United problems. While they’ll need to keep Danny Ings quiet, the pace of Redmond and passing of Ward-Prowse will also threaten the Reds. While I’ve given the Red Devils 3 points in this fixture, I think it’ll be a win where they score late to take all the points.
Crystal Palace 1-1 MANCHESTER UNITED
LEICESTER CITY 2-1 Sheffield United
Burnley 1-0 WOLVES
CHELSEA 3-0 Norwich
Manchester United have to drop points again at some point in the season and I think it will happen at Selhurst Park. Palace have made a habit of getting involved in big moments that have nothing to do with them and taking points from the Red Devils would be doing the same. United will likely push hard for the win, but the old guard of Cahill and Hodgson will stay firm.
Once again Sheffield United will be looking to have a say in the race, but I think they’ll lose out this time. I gave them results against Chelsea and Wolves because of home advantage, but they won’t have that against Leicester. The Foxes will be bouncing after their first win in a while and I think they’ll carry that through with a second win in a scrappy game.
Burnley and Wolves will be battling for points at Turf Moor and I think Wolves could lose out on vital points here. Sean Dyche’s side have been much better than it seems on the surface, with as of writing this piece they have won more games than anyone not in the Top 4. They’ll be ready for the physicality that will ensue and I think their home advantage will allow them to scrap a win.
Norwich are rock bottom of the Premier League and for good reason. They’re not very good at attacking or defending, so a relatively routine win for Chelsea should be expected.
MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 West Ham
WOLVES 2-0 Crystal Palace
Liverpool 2-1 CHELSEA
Tottenham 1-1 LEICESTER CITY
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side will look to bounce back from a draw last time out against their former manager David Moyes. United will have to play fast football and have a clinical edge against a side battling relegation that will be set up not to lose. I think their quality will eventually shine through and they’ll get the win, without ever really being troubled at the other end of the pitch.
Wolves will also be looking to bounce back from their previous result and a home fixture against a Crystal Palace side with nothing to play for is probably the best fixture for them. Their organisation is a strength but their ability going forward will likely be enough to break Palace down and secure a huge 3 points going into the final game of the season.
Chelsea will travel to the Champions’ ground looking to secure their place in the Top 4. Liverpool will of course have other ideas as they chase the points record and I think they’ll have too much quality for them. Home advantage will of course not have as much of a say as usual, however it does make a difference and Liverpool will benefit from it. With Mo Salah chasing the golden boot, he’ll be lively and he’ll lead his side to a victory.
While Jose Mourinho hasn’t had a good time at Tottenham so far, he always finds a way to get himself involved in the big stories. The Top 4 race is the biggest story now that Liverpool are already champions and he’ll look to have a say. His Spurs side will host Leicester City and I think they’ll be able to take points from the Foxes. Their attack is too strong to be kept quiet by an attacking team like Leicester and he always seems to find a way to bring clean sheets out in big games.
CHELSEA 2-1 WOLVES
LEICESTER CITY 1-1 MANCHESTER UNITED
The final game of the season will see Manchester United need just 1 point to guarantee a place in the Top 4 while Leicester will need to win. With those circumstances, The Foxes will have to push forward which could open up for United’s dangerous counter-attacks. I think Leicester will take the lead in the tie, but United’s quality will see them get back into the game and get the point they need.
At Stamford Bridge, both sides will need a win to guarantee anything so it should lead to a very open game. Chelsea’s possession based game will see them control the majority of the game but a lack of cutting edge in attack could see some nervy moments. Wolves’ strengths will cause Chelsea a bunch of problems but I think home advantage will see the Blues steal a late win to secure Champions League football for next season.
So my final table has Chelsea and Manchester United pipping Leicester and Wolves to the Champions League, with the final day being integral to the final standings. Do you agree?