Clash among the top four: hopes and fears in the race for places in the Champions League | premier league

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3. Leicester, Pl 30 Pts 56 GD +19

The optimist’s point of view: Brendan Rodgers’ side have come on since last season, when they lost key players in the encounter and failed to keep their cool, slipping out of the top four on the final day. This season their squad is stronger – thanks to purchases like Wesley Fofana and Timothy Castagne and the progress made by figures like Youri Tielemans, unsurprisingly, and Kelechi Iheanacho – and their determination is also greater, which allows them to stay at the top despite the continuity. injuries. They underperformed against Manchester City last week, but have generally done particularly well against top teams this season, which is why they’re unlikely to be scared of a clash that looks difficult on paper, to begin with. by Sunday’s trip to West Ham and ending with games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham.

The pessimists’ point of view: The next two matches could put them back a year. West Ham’s loss on Sunday, followed by an elimination in next week’s FA Cup semi-final against Southampton, would sharpen the question of whether they can really keep their cool, especially in the wake of February’s defeat in the Europa League against Slavia Prague. How long can Iheanacho keep scoring to make up for Jamie Vardy’s drought? And given the issues Leicester have faced against the deeply entrenched visitors to King Power, could they slip in the home games against West Brom, Crystal Palace and Newcastle? PD

4. West Ham, Pl 30 Pts 52 GD +11

Losing Declan Rice to injury could have a big say in West Ham's chances of making the top four.
Losing Declan Rice to injury could have a big say in West Ham’s chances of making the top four. Photographie: Jed Leicester / BPI / Shutterstock

The optimist’s point of view: The beauty of West Ham’s challenge is that it’s so unexpected. They are under no pressure given they were battling relegation last season. David Moyes has inspired an incredible transformation and West Ham has every reason to believe after reaching fourth place after their stubborn victory over Wolves last Monday. Strong defensively, their resilience has helped them cross the line in several games and they have thrived on their lack of ego. Moyes instilled a formidable work ethic and secured his side a punch up front, with Jesse Lingard inspiring on loan from Manchester United.

The pessimists’ point of view: Partly the feeling that it’s too good to be true. It’s West Ham: they’re not meant to be a challenge for the top four at this point in the season. This goes to the heart of the matter. The fear is that West Ham, competing with teams with much greater resources, will run out of steam. Declan Rice’s knee injury is a big blow, revealing the lack of coverage in midfield, and goals could be an issue with Michail Antonio potentially out for the season with his latest hamstring issue. JS

5. Chelsea, Pl 30 Pts 51 GD +16

The optimist’s point of view: Thomas Tuchel hasn’t done much wrong since replacing Frank Lampard in January. The German was quick to introduce more tactical stability, moving to a full three, and managed to revive a much-maligned defense. Chelsea conceded just two goals despite being unbeaten in Tuchel’s first 14 games and looked extremely polite in wins against Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham. Overall the atmosphere is good. The people who worked hard under Lampard have impressed since their return to the side and Mason Mount has gone from strength to strength under Tuchel, who could benefit from the depth of the Chelsea squad in an eventful clash.

The pessimists’ point of view: Last Saturday’s shambolic 5-2 loss to West Brom was a reminder that Chelsea are far from the finished article. West Brom revealed weaknesses in midfield, chasing Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in errors, and bad habits returned in defense. It was a wake-up call for Tuchel, who is also worried about his team’s lack of offensive push. Although Kai Havertz has improved, Timo Werner remains nervous in front of goal, Hakim Ziyech has been inconsistent and Christian Pulisic has suffered injuries. It is an enigma for Tuchel, who does not seem convinced by Tammy Abraham. JS

Quick guide

Remaining devices

Spectacle

Leicester West Ham (a), West Brom (h), Crystal Palace (h), Southampton (a), Newcastle (h), Manchester United (a), Chelsea (a), Tottenham (h)
West Ham Leicester (h), Newcastle (a), Chelsea (h), Burnley (a), Everton (h), Brighton (a), West Brom (a), Southampton (h)

Chelsea Crystal Palace (a), Brighton (h), West Ham (a), Fulham (h), Manchester City (a), Arsenal (h), Leicester (h), Aston Villa (a)

Tottenham Manchester United (h), Everton (a), Southampton (h), Sheffield United (h), Leeds (a), Wolves (h), Aston Villa (h), Leicester (a)

Liverpool Aston Villa (h), Leeds (a), Newcastle (h), Manchester United (a), Southampton (h), West Brom (a), Burnley (a), Crystal Palace (h)

Everton Brighton (a), Tottenham (h), Arsenal (a), Aston Villa (h), West Ham (a), Sheffield United (h), Wolves (h), Aston Villa (a), Manchester City (a)

6. Tottenham, Pl 30 Pts 49 GD +19

José Mourinho has had a scorching spell at Spurs this season.
José Mourinho has had a scorching spell at Spurs this season. Photograph: Getty Images

The optimist’s point of view: Despite the surrounding negativity, Tottenham remain sixth and three points off the top four. They have a Carabao Cup final to play, which could change the mood, and they have recently shown they can score wins, taking four Premier League wins in five games until Newcastle equalized at the 85th minute Sunday. Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min continue to enjoy exceptional seasons and their health could be the defining point of Tottenham’s showdown. Other players such as Tanguy Ndombele, Sergio Reguilón and more recently Lucas Moura have been promising enough to keep their hopes up. There is still a path to the Champions League if they can step up.

The pessimists’ point of view Despite the hope that surrounded José Mourinho as he entered his first full season at Tottenham armed with a seemingly deep and talented side, this campaign threatens to veer off course. It was a story of negative tactics, over reliance on the individual excellence of Son and Kane, an atmosphere dysfunctional enough for Hugo Lloris, the club captain, to stand in front of the world’s cameras and eviscerate the attitude of his. teammates, and Mourinho’s attempts to shy away from blame. Tottenham’s Europa League loss to Dynamo Zagreb was embarrassing and, with their lukewarm loss to Arsenal and draw with Newcastle, a worrying sign of what could come. TC

7. Liverpool, Pl 30 Pts 49 GD +15

The optimist’s point of view Fresh off the Champions League quarter-finals with a victory over RB Leipzig, but following another Premier League home loss to Fulham, Jurgen Klopp said in an interview with Lothar Matthäus that he would be almost impossible for the Premier League champions to finish in the top four. It was a month ago, when Liverpool were seven points behind Chelsea, fourth and eighth in the table. They may have only progressed one place since, but have narrowed the gap to fourth place to three points and two to Chelsea, with back-to-back away wins at Wolves and Arsenal. With a stable defense, Fabinho back in midfield, a fit Diogo Jota again improving attacking options and a favorable fixture list compared to other contenders, Liverpool can regain their momentum as quickly as they have. lost. AH

Fabinho's return to his usual midfield position should help Liverpool in the final games of the season.
Fabinho’s return to his usual midfield position should help Liverpool in the final games of the season. Photographie: Julian Finney / AFP / Getty Images

The pessimists’ point of view A favorable list of luminaires? There is nothing quite like it for a side whose home form collapsed in 2021 and lost to Burnley, Brighton and Fulham in the club’s record of six consecutive losses at Anfield. Liverpool’s defense is more consistent in terms of personnel than performance, key leaders remain absent and there is little room for error over the remaining eight league games.

8. Everton, Pl 29 Ptd 47 GD +3

The optimist’s point of view: Carlo Ancelotti’s side are just five points behind fourth-placed West Ham and have a game in hand over the challengers above them. After resting James Rodríguez for a month to allow him to recover from a lingering calf problem, the influential playmaker should be fresh for the run-in and he marked his return with a nice finish against Crystal Palace on Monday. The service to Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison also improved with the involvement of James. Away from home, Everton have been very impressive, winning 29 of their 47 points, and with relatively few injury issues the team is equipped to handle the break-in.

The pessimists’ point of view: It is remarkable that Everton remains in contention, and reflects their fine form away from home, considering they have won five points out of a possible 24 at Goodison Park this year. Ancelotti’s side regularly struggled when it came to taking the game against the opposition and used several opportunities to bolster their European claims. They have been extremely inconsistent since a dazzling start to the season, as have Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison in front of goal, and Abdoulaye Doucouré, who is expected to be out until May, is a notable absent. AH

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