• Peter Burtnett

Still much to play for in the Premier League

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Peter Burtnett

Co-founder of Impact Sports Liverpool have been crowned champions of the Premier League, but with six match weeks left, there is still much to play for in the English topflight.

Sitting atop the table with 86 points, Jurgen Klopp's side have little left to play for except breaking the points record (100 by Manchester City in 2017/18) and pride, having been knocked out of both the FA Cup and the Champions League.

Next in the table is Manchester City, who hold second place with 66 points. With a 2-year Champions League ban all but confirmed, last year's champion (City), like this year's (Liverpool), have pride to play for in the remainder of the Premier League season as their CL spot is likely to be waived.

However, unlike Liverpool, City are still active in two competitions, beating Newcastle United 2-0 in the FA Cup quarterfinals to advance to the semis (facing Arsenal at Wembley Stadium in London), and lead Real Madrid 2-1 after the first leg of their Round of 16 matchup in the Champions League.

Following the Sky Blues of Manchester are Leicester City, who sit in third with 55 points. This is where the table gets really interesting, with Chelsea trailing just one point behind with 54 points and gaining momentum, having won their last five matches in all competitions (including a 1-0 win over Leicester in the FA Cup quarterfinals) before a surprising 3-2 loss to West Ham United kept them out of third.

While Leicester are only playing in the Premier League, Chelsea will play Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinals July 19 and will travel to Munich in early August to face Bayern for the second leg of their Round of 16 Champions League fixture (August 7 or 8), trailing 3-0.

Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers follow close behind Leicester and Chelsea – even on 52 points, with United in fifth with +20 goal diference and Wolves in sixth with +11.

With fifth place likely to be good enough to earn a Champions League berth in place of Manchester City, United and Wolves are in a good position, with United already “in” and Wolves just behind and still in a Europa League spot.

United are the favorite of the two to land in the Champions League with a dangerously strong lineup. With Paul Pogba back healthy and Bruno Fernandes tearing it up, the Red Devils are in a prime position and, having won 11 of their last 15 matches, could potentially leap over Chelsea and Leicester.

With zero wins in their first five matches since Project Restart began, just two wins in their seven matches in all competitions before the suspension of the season, and three other teams gaining quickly, Leicester are in danger of losing out on the Champions League altogether.

Besides a 4-goal outburst against Aston Villa on March 9, the Foxes have scored just six goals in their last ten matches, a dangerous trend for a team hoping to stay afloat in the Champions League race.

After a vast gap between the top two (Liverpool and Man City separated by 20 points) and a competitive group between third and sixth (separated by just 3 points), the next eight positions in the table are incredibly close, with Sheffield United (7th) just seven points ahead of Southampton in 14th.

Because of the likely European ban on Manchester City, 7th will qualify whichever team holds it for a spot in the qualifying round of next year’s Europa League. With 47 points, that spot would belong to Sheffield United.

After the Blades, the order looks like this:

8. Arsenal, 46 points

9. Tottenham, 45 points (ahead of Burnley on goal difference, +7 to -9)

10. Burnley, 45 points

11. Everton, 44 points (-7 goal diff.)

12. Crystal Palace, 42 points (-9 goal diff.)

13. Newcastle United, 42* points (-10 goal diff.)

14. Southampton, 40 points

From these eight teams, Arsenal are the favorite to earn that seventh spot, but if Sheffield can play like they did in their 3-1 win over Tottenham and hold their position in seventh or Spurs play to their potential, the Gunners face a difficult battle for a European spot.

For a team like Everton, finishing top half of the table is something that is off expected of the Toffees, and the other teams around them will be fighting for the pride and hope for the future that comes with finishing top half.

With 33 points, Brighton & Hove Albion are likely safe and out of any competition for top half, so if the Seagulls simply coast through their final six matches and make sure to grab a win or two, they will be safe.

However, 16th place West Ham are not too far behind, with 30 points, and the next three spots are filled by Watford (with 28 points), and Aston Villa and Bournemouth, both of whom are on 27 points.

For West Ham just two points outside the relegation zone, avoiding relegation is a must for a team of their historical stature. Villa and Bournemouth are both in the relegation zone, but an escape for either team would likely earn their managers (Dean Smith and Eddie Howe) another year in charge and in the Premier League would certainly be fortunate.

Finally, the heartwarming story of newly promoted Norwich City and their popular owners seems destined to end in heartbreak, as the Canaries sit at the bottom of the table with just 21 points and six matches left to fly their way out of the relegation zone.

Even with a champion decided, the 2019/20 Premier League season will always be remembered in the history books because of the 3-month delay as England, like the rest of the world, battled the COVID-19 pandemic. But with six match weeks left, there is still much to play for as this unique season comes to a close.

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