United themselves are only two points off second place Manchester City in what is set to be a thrilling climax to the season.
But just how many points will Manchester United and Liverpool require in order to qualify for Europe’s elite club competition next season? Let’s take a look at the remaining fixtures…
A low-key performance in losing 1-0 at Burnley last Saturday was followed by their Champions League second round exit at the hands of Barcelona. While the La Liga leaders only won 1-0 on the night at Camp Nou, it was Joe Hart’s heroics that prevented the scoreline being an embarrassment for the Premier League champions.
In their last two performances there are signs that manager Manuel Pellegrini’s side may have lost the dressing room with players not busting a lung for the cause.
Manchester City do still have to go to Old Trafford and White Hart Lane but we consider this to be a favourable run-in and have them to maintain onto second spot, behind Chelsea:
Also eliminated from the Champions League this week, Arsenal have at least one more fixture than the side above them by virtue of being in the FA Cup semi-finals. Facing Reading we expect the Gunners to have two more games than the Citizens.
Arsène Wenger’s side are on a good run domestically, although the performances haven’t always matched the result. His side could be set to welcome back Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta this month to strengthen the midfield.
As far as fixtures go, three points at Newcastle this weekend could be key and with John Carver’s side out of form they may very well get what they need. Facing Liverpool, Chelsea and Swansea City at the Emirates and a trip to Old Trafford on matchday 37, we think Arsenal will need Manchester City to unexpectedly slip up a few more times if they want to finish runners-up, but that they should be able to get enough points to hold off Manchester United and Liverpool and finish third:
A poor showing in their FA Cup exit at the hands of Arsenal before thrashing Tottenham Hotspur left Manchester United with mixed emotions last week. On Sunday they go to 2015’s in-form team Liverpool where defeat would see them fall out of the top four, whilst victory would give them a nice cushion heading into the final eight games.
More performances like that against Spurs, even without Robin van Persie, are going to be required for Louis van Gaal’s side if they’re to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
We have the weekend’s trip to Anfield as the deciding factor between the two rivals so the Dutch manager needs to get a result in our mind if they’re to fend off Brendan Rodgers’ side. Their record of late versus Manchester City is poor whilst they also have to go to Chelsea and host Arsenal, giving the Red Devils the toughest remaining fixture list:
After seeing off Manchester City recently, Liverpool have a massive fortnight coming up, hosting Manchester United followed by a trip to Arsenal. Brendan Rodgers’ side also have an FA Cup quarter-final replay plus the potential of an FA Cup semi-final and final to navigate.
With Lucas set to return Liverpool are close to full strength which puts them in a lot better position than most of their top four contenders right now. They are also the Premier League’s in-form team right now.
After their next two games it’s a really nice run in with the exception of Chelsea in matchday 36 whom could already have been crowned champions by then or even winning the trophy in that game. We have Liverpool in fourth as a result:
Results versus their fellow top four challengers and with just one win and two goals scored in their last five matches, Southampton look set to miss out on a Champions League debut next season. Ronald Koeman’s side have been a joy to watch this season and many will be hoping they strengthen over the summer to come back even more competitive.
A couple of defensive injuries of late plus striker Graziano Pellè being out-of-form for the second half of the season have really hindered the Saints of late and we see them narrowly missing out on Europe altogether.
12 points from their next four may make us change our opinion but the clash at home to Tottenham in April is the big one – the North London side have won all five meetings since Southampton returned to the Premier League in 2012 though:
A 3-0 hammering at Old Trafford last weekend leaves Tottenham six points off the top four with only nine games remaining. The fixture list is kind to Mauricio Pochettino’s side though – their next three games against current bottom five sides followed up by out-of-form Newcastle.
Results against the top side appear to be Spurs’ undoing once again this season. In Harry Kane they may have found a striker to give them a shot at the top four next season.
The trip to St. Mary’s at the end of April could be the decider between who finishes sixth and seventh. Trips to Stoke City and Everton aren’t always appealing but both of those sides may have very little to play for come May:
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