Premier League top four

Who Will Finish in The Top Four in The Premier League?

At the start of the season, many people projected that the race for the top four in the Premier League could be more intense than ever before, due to the high number of top players and managers coming into the league. So far, this season has not disappointed, with Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, and Manchester United all playing some scintillating football at times. At the moment, Chelsea sit rather comfortably in first place, while Liverpool, Arsenal, and Tottenham occupy the three spots below them. The first half of the season has given us viewers an idea of each team’s strengths and weaknesses, their current form, and their consistency/inconsistency, which has made it possible to predict who may occupy the four coveted Champions League positions at the end of the season.

1. Chelsea

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Ever since mid-October, Chelsea have been nearly unstoppable. The front three of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, and Pedro seem to be able to create and score at will, while the three man back line of Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, and Gary Cahill have been very solid, only conceding 13 goals so far, which is the lowest in the league. Conte’s tactical switch to a 3-4-3 formation after the 3-0 defeat to Arsenal in October appears to have been a masterstroke, as Chelsea are now six points clear at the top of the table, and are showing no signs of slowing down. Their incredible form, coupled with the great strength in depth that they possess, has many people believing that it will be Chelsea crowned Premier League champions come May.

2. Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side have often produced some breathtaking attacking football so far this season, scoring 48 goals in 20 games, more than any other team in the Premier League. Even as Sadio Mane and Joel Matip depart for the African Cup of Nations, Liverpool supporters should be encouraged by the fact that Philippe Coutinho should return from injury in the upcoming weeks. At the back, they may find Matip harder to replace, but the pairing of Ragnar Klavan and Dejan Lovren has proved to be effective in recent weeks. Based on what they shown so far this season, there is no reason why Liverpool should not continue to put the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the table throughout the second half of the season and maintain their position in second place.

3. Manchester United

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Manchester United have had an interesting season, to say the least. They have played some very good football at times, but poor finishing, world class performances by opposing goalkeepers, and even purely bad luck have forced the Red Devils to drop points needlessly. However, Jose Mourinho’s men have currently won six games in a row in the Premier League, while Mourinho appears to have found his best lineup and is finally getting the best out of summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba. If United are able to continue this excellent run of form, while avoiding injuries to key players, they have a very good chance of improving their sixth place position, and potentially getting as high as third place.

4. Arsenal

In recent years, Arsenal have become synonymous with finishing fourth place, even though the London-based club have only finished fourth on two occasions in the past five years. They have not dropped out of the top four since 1996, and it does not appear that this will be the year that bucks that trend. Consistency is not as much of an issue for Arsenal as it has been for other clubs, such as the two Manchester clubs, but in both matches against the two sides, Arsenal have been the inferior side, despite clawing out a last minute draw against United. Yet Alexis Sanchez, who has been deployed as a centre forward for the most part so far this season, has been in top form, scoring 12 goals, while the rest of the squad appears to have enough strength in depth and consistency to achieve at least a fourth place finish.

What about Manchester City and Tottenham?

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As previously mentioned, the race for the top four appears to be more intense than ever this year. Although there are six top teams currently fighting for the four Champions League places, two have to miss out. Manchester City went on a long winning streak at the beginning of the season, which was followed by a long winless streak. Ever since, they have not exactly been a model of consistency, and if that continues, it is very plausible to suggest that City could finish in fifth or sixth place. However, with Pep Guardiola at the helm, and if players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero are fit and firing, this City team could finish anywhere.

Tottenham, on the other hand, have been more consistent than City, but do not seem to be strong enough to really challenge some of the other teams, some of which are yet to truly hit top form. Chelsea, Liverpool, United, Arsenal and City are simply stronger sides than Tottenham, which will probably prove to be fatal to their top four hopes by the end of the season. Yet even after all this discussion, it is impossible to predict who exactly will be in the top four when the champion is crowned in May. The only thing that is certain is that it will be interesting, as the first half of the season has set up what is sure to be an enthralling second half of the Premier League season

About the Author Ben Heffernan

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