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What Are The Key Battles and Fixtures in the Final Weeks of the Premier League Season?

April 24, 2019

The Premier League season is reaching its final few fixtures with just two games left in the season following the games to be played this week and across the coming weekend. Even at this late stage of the season, there is still plenty to play for involving teams at the top and bottom of the table.

While the main focus is on the titanic tussle between Liverpool and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, there are other issues still to be resolved. Who will claim the Champions League qualification spots (indeed, how many will qualify from the Premier League this season is still not yet known), who will claim the Europa League spots and who will be the team that goes down with Huddersfield and Fulham to the Championship?

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Let’s have a look at the key games remaining now in each of the key battles in the Premier League starting with the title race.

Title Race

As It Stands

  1. Liverpool – Played 35, Points 88, Goal Difference +59
  2. Man City – Played 34, Points 86, Goal Difference +65

Remaining Fixtures

Liverpool

  • V Huddersfield Town (H)
  • V Newcastle United (A)
  • V Wolverhampton Wanderers (H)

Manchester City

  • V Manchester United (A)
  • V Burnley (A)
  • V Leicester City (H)
  • V Brighton (A)

City have a game in hand over Liverpool but three of the last four are away from home matches, including a crucial Manchester Derby and two tough trips to Burnley and Brighton. Liverpool have only one away trip to Newcastle, and two home games to go. This could be the closest Premier League title race in many a year and it is likely to go right down to the final game of the season. With Wolves being the scourge of the top six this season and Brighton battling for survival, it could be a dramatic end to the season on the last day.

The bookies still have Manchester City as the 4/7 favourites ahead of the game with Manchester United, but Liverpool are a tempting 11/8.

Champions League Places

The race for the Champions League qualification spots is complicated this season by the fact that Chelsea and Arsenal are both in the semifinals of the Europa League. The winner of the Europa League will qualify for the Champions League regardless of their position in the Premier League and if that happens, with Premier League rules not allowing five teams from one domestic league to participate, this means that only three teams would qualify from the Premier League.

However, five Premier League teams could be in the Champions League if Tottenham win the Champions League, either Chelsea or Arsenal win the Europa League and Manchester United finish third in the Premier League. If that is the case, then five teams from the EPL could go forward into next year’s tournament.

In short, it looks most likely third and fourth will qualify for next season’s Champions League, but nothing as yet is certain.

As It Stands

  • 3rd – Tottenham – Played 35, Pts 70, Goal Difference +30
  • 4th – Chelsea – Played 35, Pts 67, Goal Difference +21
  • 5th – Arsenal – Played 34 – Pts 66, Goal Difference +25
  • 6th – Manchester United – Played 34, Pts 64, Goal Difference +15

Remaining Fixtures

Tottenham

  • V West Ham (H)
  • V Bournemouth (A)
  • V Everton (H)

Chelsea

  • V Man Utd (A)
  • V Watford (H)
  • V Leicester (A)

Arsenal

  • V Wolves (A)
  • V Leicester (A)
  • V Brighton (H)
  • V Burnley (A)

Man Utd

  • V Man City (H)
  • V Chelsea (H)
  • V Huddersfield Town (A)
  • V Cardiff City (H)

Manchester United have two tough games but what looks like the easiest finish to the season, while Arsenal face a similar run in with three tough away games to go. Chelsea’s run in is also tough, while Spurs looks the most benign of the teams and with them holding third spot at present, it seems likely they will be the team to nab that place at the end of the season.

Who finishes fourth though, is anybody’s guess.

Europa League Qualifier

Depending on the results of the FA Cup Final, the remainder of the Premier League season and who qualifies for the Champions League (and how many teams) there is also the possibility that seventh place in the Premier League could earn a place in the competition.

That is because Manchester City have already won the Carabao Cup, but they will also qualify for the Champions League next season, which frees up one space. The fifth placed team in the Premier League also qualifies, but if Manchester City win the FA Cup, then their place will go to the team next highest ranked in the Premier League not in European competition.

So that means if there are four teams in the Champions League next season, then places 5th, 6th and 7th will qualify for the Europa League. We already know that two of the four teams above will finish 5th and 6th, but the 7th place spot is still very much up for grabs with four teams in the hunt.

As It Stands

  • 7th – Watford – Played 35, Points 50, Goal Difference – 0
  • 8th – Everton – Played 35, Points 49, Goal Difference – +6
  • 9th – Leicester City – Played 35, Points 48, Goal Difference +1
  • 10th – Wolves – Played 34, Points 48, Goal Difference -1

Remaining Games

Watford

  • V Wolves (H)
  • V Chelsea (A)
  • V West Ham (H)

Everton

  • V Crystal Palace (A)
  • V Burnley (H)
  • V Tottenham (A)

Leicester City

  • V Arsenal (H)
  • V Man City (A)
  • V Chelsea (H)

Wolves

  • V Arsenal (H)
  • V Watford (A)
  • V Fulham (H)
  • V Liverpool (A)

None of the teams has a particularl easy run in, with Leicester’s looking the most difficult, while Wolves is also tough. Everton too have a couple of difficult away games which seems to suggest Watford could be the team set to capitalise on any additional Europa League spots that are awarded this season.

Relegation

We already know that Huddersfield Town and Fulham have been relegated into the Championship next season but who will join them? While it is mathematically possible that a number of teams could still theoretically go down, it does seem to be a race between two in particular, Brighton and Cardiff City.

As It Stands

  • Brighton – Played 35, Points 34, Goal Difference -22
  • Cardiff – Played 35, Points 31, Goal Difference -35

Remaining Fixtures

Brighton

  • V Newcastle Utd (H)
  • V Arsenal (A)
  • V Manchester City (H)

Cardiff City

  • V Fulham (A)
  • V Crystal Palace (H)
  • V Manchester United (A)

Given Cardiff essentially need a four point turnaround given their vastly inferior goal difference, the smart money is on Brighton staying up but that is a very difficult run in for the Seagulls and I would not be surprised if they lost all three of those games. I can see Cardiff winning at Fulham if they play like they did against Brighton the other week and that would leave them needing a point against either Palace or Manchester United. It may be a longer shot, but my gut feeling is Cardiff City could well do it.

About Ian John

Ian John
Working my way though the UK's top online poker sites (and some of the ones near the bottom as well) to bring you a first-hand take on the absolute best choices for online poker players from the UK.