Just like that, after almost an entire 12 months of Premier League football, the race for the final two Premier League spots is all going to come down to the last 4pm kickoff on the Sunday, 26th July. Chelsea have been ever present in the Top 4 since back in October, but their fate is still all but sealed as we head into these final two Premier League games.
Before we take a deeper dive into each team, let’s provide a quick overview for Chelsea, Manchester United and Leicester’s remaining games:
Manchester United (n) – Sunday 19th 6pm
Liverpool (a) – Wednesday 22nd 8:15pm
Wolves (h) – Sunday 26th 4pm
Tottenham Hotspur (a) – Sunday 19th 4pm
Manchester United (h) – Sunday 26th 4pm
Chelsea (n) – Sunday 19th 6pm
West Ham (h) – Wednesday 22nd 6pm
Leicester (a) – Sunday 26th 4pm
It may be controversial, but I firmly believe that Leicester’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield United last night was one of the best things that could’ve happened for Chelsea. Firstly, it should help to eliminate any complacency that could be arising in the team. No matter what happens, this Chelsea side now need to win both their remaining games if they want destiny to remain in their own hands. Furthermore, it means that when Leicester welcome Manchester United to the King Power Stadium next Sunday, they will still be able to get top four regardless of the Tottenham game on Sunday, which is huge for them and means that the game at the King Power will be tough for both sides.
Despite not being a league game, I’ve opted to put the Chelsea vs Manchester United FA Cup Semi-Final in this. Manchester United will head into this game with two days less rest than the Chelsea side which beat Norwich 1-0 on Tuesday evening. Both Frank Lampard and Ole will be desperate to win this game, but they will also want their side in top condition for the remaining two league games. On the other hand, this game will also be a huge confidence boost for the winning side so I think we will still see strong lineups for both sides.
At the same time, Leicester City will head to North London to face José Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur side. Spurs currently sit in 7th place, one point ahead of 8th and as it stands this will be enough for a place in the Europa League. They simply cannot afford to miss out on Europe because of the financial complications so they will not allow Leicester to play them off the park. José will be keen to finish off the season on a high and make it three wins out of three.
Midweek, Chelsea head north-west to Anfield. Liverpool have looked a shadow of the side we saw earlier in the season and many have questioned their motivation in these final weeks of the season. Wednesday night’s game against Arsenal only furthered these doubts and the side can no longer set a record points total in the league. The team will still want to finish on a high of course, and they have a 100% record at home so it’s unknown just how much youth Klopp will want to deploy in his side. He may use this game to set an example to those who have arguably under-performed in recent weeks. Chelsea have already faced Liverpool three times this season, despite only being victorious once, Lampard appears to know exactly how he wants to set up against Jürgen Klopp’s side. As ridiculous as it may sound, is there a chance Liverpool roll over for Chelsea to strike a hammer-blow in Manchester United’s bid for Top 4?
Prior to this game, Manchester United welcome West Ham United to Old Trafford. West Ham came out 2-0 victors in the game at the London Stadium back in September and they love a big game performance. Ideally, Watford will come out on top of West Ham United in tonight’s fixture, meaning that West Ham need to win this game in order to be assured of survival.
Lastly, lets head across to next Sunday, the 26th of July and judgement day for these three teams. Whilst Chris Wood’s 96th minute penalty may have removed Wolves from the Champions League race, they still face a fight to hold onto the the Europa League spot. A win for them on Monday night against Crystal Palace will put them in good stead to achieve this, but they will still be looking to pick up points against Chelsea. One thing which could seriously help Chelsea is their Europa League campaign which is set to kick off again in August, Nuno could choose to rest some of his best players. Whilst Wolves will have two extra days of rest on Chelsea for this game, the must-win nature of it means I can only see one winner.
Whilst Chelsea play Wolves, it is the turn of Manchester United to head to the King Power. The “Red Devils” ran out narrow winners in the fixture in September, but this game is almost too hard to call. The winner will likely be rewarded with a Champions League spot. The loser will be consigned to the Europa League.
So there we have it, Chelsea have been extremely unfortunate in the fixture list that their two biggest rivals for a Top 4 spot will take points off each other on the final day of the season. Whilst Chelsea’s games are arguably the hardest, they thankfully have an extra point on their opponents. Whilst this will be undone by goal difference if they draw level, just four points out of six will seal Top 4 for Chelsea, which is more than attainable.
Do you think Chelsea will make the top four? Let us know in the comments below!