The battle for the English Premier League (EPL) title is simply getting hotter and hotter this season, just like in the past. Currently, it is a direct clash between Manchester City and Liverpool. As for City, they are ahead of the Reds through a single point but that does not mean the title is theirs for the taking. Looking at the fixtures ahead, it becomes tougher to imagine a winner right now.
Presently, Man City have got 49 and Liverpool 52 games and the latter got the better of the former recently in the FA Cup. However, any prediction regarding the title winner cannot be risked merely based on the FA Cup outcome. So, let us see how the clashes are stacked together for the two teams before opting for any conjectures.
The Challenges Ahead For The City
Theoretically speaking, City do not have major hurdles going forward. Pep Guardiola’s side will be facing just three teams presently in the Top 10. West Ham United will be one of them. The Hammers are already into the Europa League semi-finals and if they manage to proceed to the final, then for them the Europa league would become more significant than the game with the City, which happens three days after the final. Apart from Hammers, the other opponents who can put the City under the pump happen to be Wolverhampton Wanderers, Brighton & Hove Albion and Tottenham Hotspur. Quite intriguingly, City’s last clash will be with Aston Villa, mentored by Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard.
Why For Liverpool It’s Disadvantage Right Now?
For Liverpool, they might finish this season with some prized possessions as they have a UEFA Champions League semi with Villarreal, FA Cup final with Chelsea coming up and the battle for the English Premier League title.
However, the Premier League journey will be far from easier for them. The scheduling of games till the final puts them in a tighter spot. Initially, they will be locking horns with Man United, who are eyeing a fourth spot currently and the Champions League next season. Following this, they will be facing Everton, who are battling very hard to avoid relegation. Then, they have to contend with reinvigorated Newcastle United and Tottenham, who are targeting a Champions League spot. Finally, Liverpool will be up against Gerrard’s Villa in one of the last two fixtures in the Premier League season.
Most importantly, Man City have an advantage in comparison to Liverpool in terms of scheduling. Guardiola’s outfit will get more rests than Jurgen Klopp’s side between their matches and, it remains to be seen if the same has any bearing on the final result.
Battle For The Fourth Spot Continues To Confound
As Liverpool and Man City fight it out for the coveted title, Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham will be involved in a tug of war to grab the other two Champions League spots.
At present, Chelsea have an edge vis-a-vis the four teams with 62 points from 30 matches. If not for a sudden erosion of form, they can easily take the third spot.
However, it is the fourth-spot clash that is becoming very confusing with Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United putting up inconsistent displays in the season so far. Therefore with no clear winner in sight, the fourth spot in the league is wide open right now.
At present, Tottenham is in the fourth spot with 57 points from 32 games. They have a home fixture against Leicester, an away match with Liverpool and the home North London derby against Arsenal. But the problematic aspect is that these games are happening in a span of 12 days and the crammed schedule could easily impact Tottenham’s fourth-spot prospects.
Likewise, United, with 54 points from 32 games, are also faced with some uncomfortable fixtures. They have to take on Liverpool and Arsenal away from the comforts of home in four days and then battle it out with Chelsea in their season’s last match at home. Going by their blow-hot-blow-cold display this season, a fourth-place finish seems like a miracle at this point.
Arsenal with 54 points, are on an even keel with United. Even they also have to grapple with a busy schedule involving Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham. Hence, the battle for the fourth-spot gets intriguing as the season progresses.