A Football Faculty View: ‘Top Four’ Predictions
The resumption of European action this week represents the beginning of the so-called ‘business end’ of the 2017/18 football season. For Premier League clubs the next few months will define their season with a scrap at both ends of the table. The league’s elite will be fighting for the much coveted Champions League places and everyone else is seemingly engaged in a titanic tussle to retain their top division status. Here we assess the runners and riders in the race for the ‘Top Four’, is there still time for a surprise or two during the final run-in?
Liverpool Pld 27 GD 30 Pts 54 (PREDICTION 2nd)
Liverpool have represented a real unknown so far this term, capable of beating the best on their day but equally able to capitulate at the hands of the apparent minnows. The long awaited acquisition of Virgil Van Dijk should hopefully rectify some of their defensive fragility and this combined with a seemingly innocuous run-in should see them overhaul the red half of Manchester to claim an automatic Champions League place. A very decent outside bet for Champions League success come May as well.
Manchester United Pld 27 GD 32 Pts 56 (PREDICTION 3rd)
Solid if not always spectacular, Mourinho looks set to achieve an automatic place with a steady improvement on last seasons finish. A tough run-in combined with further continental ties likely to be on the horizon. This will make for a challenging finish to the season. United should though have already done enough of the hard work already, and support from an ever deepening squad should see them comfortably home.
Tottenham Hotspur Pld 27 GD 28 Pts 52 (PREDICTION 4th)
The in-form team of the ‘Top Four’ chasers having successfully negotiated a run that included a trip to Anfield along with wins over fellow challengers Manchester United and Arsenal. The deadline day signing of Lucas Moura should add another layer to an attack that has gradually rekindled the swagger of the last campaign. With a new stadium on the horizon, a Champions League berth must be the priority, but participation in the FA Cup along with this years European Cup will be provide an added challenge
Our prediction is for both Chelsea and Arsenal to miss out on qualification, in Arsenal’s case at least via the domestic route. These clubs have seemingly stalled over recent weeks with continued uncertainty over management and club direction seemingly affecting on field performances. Arsenal’s January reshuffle has yet to arrest this pattern, with Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan still finding their feet in North London. For Chelsea, victory over West Brom has steadied things slightly but questions still remain over a side that looks to be in an apparent state of freefall.