Tom Overend checks out the run in for the Top Four, and identifies where Wolves, Leicester and Manchester United may slip up in the final weeks.
The next five games will determine Chelsea’s fate next season in Europe next season. Sitting in fourth, any slip up in the final weeks could be punished with a return to Thursday Night Europa League Football next season.
Wolves, Leicester and Manchester United are their three closest challengers, and the performances of these teams will play a vital part in any final outcome for the Blues.
How Things Stand
The Run In
Current Position: 6th, 52 points
|Wednesday 8th July||Sheffield United (a)|
|Sunday 12th July||Everton (h)|
|Wednesday 15th July||Burnley (a)|
|Monday 20th July||Crystal Palace (h)|
|Sunday 26th July||Chelsea (a)|
Wolves go into the final five needing to make up the most ground on their rivals. Away fixtures at faltering European Challengers Sheffield United and Burnley will present opportunities for much-needed victories.
It will be their match at home to Everton that will be the acid test as to whether Wolves can sustain their Top Four challenge into the final week of the season.
Current Position: 5th, 55 points
|Thursday 9th July||Aston Villa (a)|
|Monday 13th July||Southampton (h)|
|Thursday 16th July||Crystal Palace (a)|
|Wednesday 22nd July||West Ham (h)|
|Sunday 26th July||Leicester (a)|
Manchester United are the in-form team, unbeaten in their past seventeen games in all competitions.
Currently two points adrift of fourth, United have the simplest run of games on paper. They face teams only in the bottom half of the table until playing fellow challengers Leicester on the final day.
This leaves them strong challengers to end the season in the top four.
Current Position: 4th, 57 points
|Tuesday 7th July||Crystal Palace (a)|
|Saturday 11th July||Sheffield United (a)|
|Tuesday 14th July||Norwich (h)|
|Wednesday 22nd July||Liverpool (a)|
|Sunday 26th July||Wolves (h)|
Frank Lampard’s team have a tough job on their hands to cling on to the final Champion’s League position.
Tough away fixtures at Selhurst Park and Bramall Lane subside to winnable games at home to relegation-doomed Norwich and already crowned champions Liverpool.
The final game at home to Wolves could possibly become a European playoff if they stutter.
Current Position: 3rd, 58 points
|Tuesday 7th July||Arsenal (a)|
|Sunday 12th July||Bournemouth (a)|
|Thursday 16th July||Sheffield United (h)|
|Sunday 19th July||Tottenham (a)|
|Sunday 26th July||Manchester United (h)|
Stuttering front-runners Leicester have the toughest run in. Away fixtures at resurgent Arsenal and relegation-threatened Bournemouth will be tough.
A trip to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on the penultimate day exposes Brendan Rodgers to Jose Mourinho, whom he has yet to beat in his managerial career.
The visit of Manchester United on the final day will test the mettle of the side that were Liverpool’s closest challengers at the summit as recently as December.