Could Sunday’s Game Against United Be The Most Important In Chelsea’s League Season So Far?
Chelsea travel to Old Trafford on Sunday in need of a big performance in order to hold on to their place in the top four. After two defeats in their last three league games, they now sit just a point ahead of Spurs. Three points separate Chelsea and their hosts United so a win would see them pull level and the top four bunch up. A win for Manchester United, however, would give them a big cushion heading into the final part of the season. They have also lost two of their last three but have been strong at home of late. Three wins and two draws from their last five at home has kept United 2nd in the table.
Liverpool have won three of their last five games heading into the weekend fixture against West Ham. A win would move them into 2nd place in the league due to Man United playing later. Perhaps, more importantly, would be to maintain or increase the narrow gap to 5th place Tottenham. West Ham are in 12th at the moment which is an improvement on their early season form. They are, however, one of the sides who are just four points above the bottom three. Poor results over their next few games could see them slip back into danger.
Arsenal’s involvement in the Carabao Cup Final on Sunday means that they will miss the regular Premier League fixture. They were, however, scheduled to play their opponents in Sunday’s final Manchester City in the league also so that game will now be rearranged to Thursday. Arsenal go into the game on the back of three wins and two draws from their last five home league games. Three straight away defeats though have seen them fall behind in the fight for the top four as they are now eight points adrift. City can afford to drop some points and still maintain a healthy lead in the title race but given that they have dropped just two points in their last four it may not be a simple task for the home side.
Spurs fans must also wait until Sunday for their chance to attempt to crack into the top four. They travel to Crystal Palace in search of the first away win since early January. Seven points taken from three games against the sides around them has given an opportunity to take a top-four spot but they need to continue in the same way against sides in the bottom half. Palace haven’t won in four league attempts but given that three of those games were away from home it gives a mixed view. Only once in their last 10 at home has ended in defeat as they hover just above the relegation zone.
Leicester and Stoke meet in the early kick-off on Saturday with the away side desperate for points. Just two points from their last three games has left Stoke languishing in 19th place, two points from safety. Leicester are out of form at the moment too but are much better placed in the league. A win in this game could be enough to move them 7th but that will likely be as high as they can climb.
Burnley currently occupy 7th place but haven’t won in their last 10 games, a run stretching back to mid-December. They will look to turn their fortunes against Southampton who are also struggling to find a league win. Just one win in their last 14 games has not given them enough points to yet be clear of the bottom three. The sides at the bottom are so close but at the moment Southampton have not been able to climb clear.
Watford got their only Premier League win over Everton the last time they were at home in December 2016. Both sides have had a mixed season so far. Watford started strongly but have since fallen away while Everton suffered from a poor start only to pick up points in the new year. Both sides now find themselves in mid-table with Everton four points better off. Watford are 11th but only three points clear of the bottom three and could fall into bother if they experience another poor run.
After winning three of their last five league games, Bournemouth have moved into the top half of the league. They are still one of the sides who need to avoid falling back into trouble but with the coming fixtures, they can put distance between themselves and the bottom. Newcastle are the visitors this week on the back of some impressive results including the narrow win over Man United last time out. That win moved them out of the bottom three and two points clear but there is still much work to do.
Five games without defeat has moved Swansea from relegation certainties into mid-table candidates. They are still just a point ahead of the red line but given their situation before they have a good chance at survival. They travel to Brighton, who won the reverse fixture 1-0 earlier in the season. Brighton are a point ahead of Swansea and will look to increase their advantage further.
With just one win each in their last five games, West Brom and Huddersfield are two sides in serious need of points. West Brom’s three straight defeats has seen them begin to lose grip on the teams above and they are now seven points adrift of safety. Huddersfield won for the first time in nine in their last home game. That was enough to move them out of the bottom three but unless they continue to pick up points they will fall back in.
With games against United, City and Tottenham in the next four this spell for Chelsea could be the defining time in their league campaign. If they can put in some excellent performances, starting on Sunday, then their future is in their hands. Come away with little to show for the next month however, and a place in next seasons Champions League may be a stretch.