By Nora Calder – @NoraUtd
When the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban, they tightened up the Top Four race and sent rival fans into a frenzy. Some fans felt the Financial Fair Play regulations had become farcical, whilst others were simply disappointed at the prospect of their team finishing fifth and not qualifying for the Champions League.
With Liverpool having run off with their first Premier League title in over 30 years, it seems only fair that football fans will have excitement until the last day of the season as the race for Top Four is set to go down to the wire.
Anything can happen in football, especially the Premier League, we’ve taken a look at who is still in the race and how they may fair up in their remaining fixtures.
Data from OPTA © 2020
Record since restart: 4W, 0D, 2L
In Frank Lampard’s first season at Chelsea, we’ve seen the best and worst of what his squad has to offer. Their recent win over Manchester City was a strong statement of intent but they soon fell at a lower hurdle, suffering a 3-2 defeat at the hands of relegation battlers West Ham.
The Chelsea defence will be low on confidence having been played off the park by Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United who have defied the odds in being serious contenders for Europa League football next season. Lampard is counting on his attacking threats like in-form Willian and Pulisic who can break down the sturdiest of defences.
A win over an already relegated Norwich is a must for Chelsea. The real challenge is getting past a Liverpool side focused on raising their points tally and Wolves who are battling for European football.
Our top points prediction for Chelsea is 66 pts.
Sheffield United (H)
Manchester United (A)
Record since restart: 1W, 3D, 2L
Brendan Rodgers Foxes came back from the restart serious challengers for Top Four, though their form has since raised legitimate doubts as to whether they have the mentality to capitalise on their current position.
Leicester fans haven’t mourned the loss of Harry Maguire this season with Caglar Soyuncu stepping in to do a solid defensive job, the Turkish international lost his cool in their recent 4-1 thrashing to Bournemouth, kicking out at Callum Wilson as he attempted to retrieve the ball. The defender will now miss the last 3 games of the season.
Even with a prolific goal-scorer like Jamie Vardy leading their attack, Leicester have perhaps the toughest end to the season in their battle for Top Four. Sheffield United are not to be underestimated and will pose a huge challenge, setting the tone for their next game against an unpredictable Spurs. The final test against Manchester United could be the decider.
Our top points prediction for Leicester is 63 pts.
Crystal Palace (A)
West Ham (H)
Record since restart: 4W, 2D, 0L
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are on an 18-game unbeaten run, their front 3 are sending shivers down the spines of opposing defences but a dogged Southampton side took the wind from their sails in a recent 2-2 draw at Old Trafford. The Red Devil’s couldn’t withstand the sustained pressure from the Saints who earned an injury time equaliser.
A maximum point return would guarantee a Champions League spot and United undoubtedly have winnable fixtures. Fans are anxiously awaiting news on left-back Luke Shaw who picked up an ankle injury in their recent draw. Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba have shown they can create the chances needed for United to climb the table
With their fate in their own hands, we’re in for a tantalising end to the season. United’s Top Four hopes likely rest on their final game of the season, away at The King Power Stadium.
Our top points prediction for Manchester United is 66 pts.
Our top 4 prediction
Predicted Top Four
2. Manchester City
3. Manchester United