Another Premier League season is edging to its climax and yet again its United that sit atop the table, having pulled three points clear at the league’s summit. With a game in hand it seems almost unimaginable that they would lose it now.
So with the title all but decided, attention can now turn to the scrap for second place between Liverpool, Chelsea and to a lesser extent Arsenal.
Once the adrenalin had left the system on Tuesday night there was time to digest the night’s action. Another outstanding game involving Liverpool this season yet for the Red faithful another home draw. Anfield, once impossible to play at, has seen far too many draws this season (seven in all) and the simple fact is that if they had won all of the home games that they had drawn they would be top of the table.
Admittedly you could say that about anyone; however the fact is that Rafa Benitez’s side have been far more impressive in the league this year than in past seasons doing the double over both Chelsea and United. Out of all the top four Liverpool do probably have the easiest run in, the trickiest of their remaining fixtures being home to Spurs on the last day of the season. Furthermore they do have the advantage of being three points clear of Chelsea and nine ahead of Arsenal.
Chelsea will still be hoping that they can catch Liverpool and claim the runners up spot. However with Guus Hiddink conceding the title after last night’s draw with Everton and with a Champions League Semi Final and FA Cup Final to prepare for it is likely the Dutchman will start to rotate his squad. Having to play at the Emirates in May is their most difficult remaining fixture and Arsene Wenger will be keen to take the points off of his London rivals and continue his side’s impressive run of form. On the last day of the season Chelsea travel to the Stadium of Light and Sunderland may well still be playing for Premier League survival. This could cause Hiddink’s team one or two difficulties especially with the FA Cup Final and potentially the Champions League final in the following week.
At the moment Arsenal are joint top in the current form league, having won five of their last six games and Wenger is keen to push on. Having started the season poorly the Gunners have quietly gone about their business and will be looking at the chance of claiming at least third eagerly.
They face United in their Champions League Semi Final on Wednesday and thus the prospect of having a much stretched squad as they try to compete on both fronts. The defensive injuries are causing problems but Wenger will be buoyed by the four goals his team scored at Anfield on Tuesday night.
With Chelsea and United to still play Arsenal most certainly have the hardest run in but they also have the least pressure, with fourth all but secured they can rest assured of Champions League football next year (although finishing in third would allow them direct passage to the group stages instead of qualifiers). Playing host to Stoke looks like an easy three points on the last day of the season especially considering that they look safe from relegation.
Liverpool look good for second, despite some poor home results this season they have a three point lead and the easiest run in. Neither Chelsea nor United will be looking forward to play Arsenal and with all three of them competing in the Champions League Semis the games may be tepid affairs; then again people said that about Arsenal Liverpool. So with only a few weeks to go, United all but champions in what order do you see the big four finishing this season?
Here’s my pick:
1) Man United