Two Games This Week Could See Chelsea Close The Gap To The Teams Above
Chelsea face two league games this week as they make up for lost time during their FA Cup run. First up is a Saturday lunch-time trip to relegation-threatened Southampton. Following last weekend’s draw with West Ham, Chelsea now sit ten points adrift of the top four. With only six games remaining in the season the side look set to miss out on Champions League football. Southampton need points quickly if they are to stand a hope of playing in the Premier League next season. After three straight defeats, they remain three points behind 17th with a tough run ahead. Chelsea face Burnley on Thursday night for their second game while Southampton travel to Leicester.
Manchester City’s title celebrations were put on hold last week after their defeat to United. They could seal the league this week but it would require other results to go in their favour. They face a difficult fixture as it is and a trip to in-form Tottenham so the possibility is their poor run continues and they drop more points. It is still only five games in which City have dropped points this season and both they and Spurs go into this game having lost just two games. Spurs are level on points with 3rd place Liverpool and could close the gap to 2nd with a win. They now look assured of a place in the top four but a defeat this weekend may change that. Spurs travel to Brighton for their second game this week.
Both Manchester United’s games this week see them take on sides from the bottom half. They start on Sunday against the side at the foot of the table, West Brom. Last weeks 1-1 draw ended a run of eight straight defeats for the Championship-bound side. Their 10 point gap to safety means that their fate could be confirmed in a few weeks. United, however, have won their last five games in the league, including three against sides in the top five. They need to continue to win in order to hold onto 2nd and stay above the other sides chasing European places. Their second game this week sees them travel to Bournemouth on Wednesday.
Liverpool have won six of their last seven home games and look to extend that record against Bournemouth this weekend. By the end of this week, the sides around them would have played their game in hand so a win this weekend for Liverpool could be vital. As the season comes to a close they may need to rest players given their involvement in the latter stages of the Champions League which could open the door for the other sides. Bournemouth slipped out of the top half of the table following one win in their last five. Their 10 point gap over the relegation places will likely be enough to see them safe at this point. Bournemouth’s difficult week finishes with a home game against Manchester United.
Arsenal have a trip to Newcastle this weekend as they look to continue their recent good run. Three wins in a row have helped them close the gap a little to the sides above and they are now just three points behind Chelsea. This game could prove a tough test though as, following four straight away defeats, Arsenal’s form on the road is not good. Newcastle are also on an impressive run. Their three straight wins have all but assured safety for this season. They are 10th in the table, ten points above danger.
Burnley can take a big step towards confirming a top-seven finish, and possible European qualification with a win against Leicester this weekend. Four straight wins have put them six points clear of their rivals, with just six to play. Leicester, on the other hand, lost last week at home to Newcastle. They could move ahead if Burnley by the end of the week if they win this game and on Thursday at home to Southampton.
Everton travel to Swansea aiming to stay inside the top half as the end of the season approaches. Despite all their troubles this season they are in 9th, and with a chance of catching those above. Four of Swansea’s last five league games have been away from home and yielded just two points. Following that run, they are just four points above relegation so still have much to fight for.
Watford have not won in their last four games but, with a nine-point gap over the bottom sides, should be clear of trouble. They travel to Huddersfield this week where a win could move them back into the top half. Huddersfield hold a four-point gap over Southampton and just two points win in their last five games has done little to help their situation. They now face a difficult final five games with three of them against sides from the top six.
Brighton may look secure in 13th place but their seven-point gap over the bottom three could disappear quickly given their run to the end of the season. They travel to Crystal Palace this weekend before facing three of the top four in their run in. Palace have played well of late but this had not translated into many points, they are out of the bottom three at the moment but with only a three-point gap they may drop down given Southampton’s game in hand.
Monday night sees two relegation-threatened sides face off as West Ham host Stoke City. A win for West Ham would put them on to 37 points and all but see them safe. Anything but three points for Stoke may not be enough for them to survive this season. After four straight defeats, they are now four points away from safety. They have a lot of ground to make up on the sides above in the final few games.
The two games this week will all but confirm whether Chelsea will make the top four or not at the end of the season. The likelihood is that they won’t but it would be good to see some fight in the side to try to break in. They also need to keep watch over Arsenal below to avoid slipping further in the standings.