Top Four prognosis: The fixtures that matter in the Premier League

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On Sunday we analyzed the run-ins for a bevy of clubs vying to avoid relegation from the Premier League to the Football League Championship.

Tonight, we deal in the race for the Top Four.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson’s clever Bremen goal ]

While we’re still including Man City despite its 13-point table advantage and status as an almost-certain PL title winner– the leaders still face every Top Four contender except Spurs — read on to see why a certain outsider stands a very good chance of renewing acquaintances with the Top Four.

Man City (69 pts)

Saturday – Leicester City (H)
Feb. 13 – Basel (A) – UCL
Feb. 19 – Wigan (A) – FA Cup
Feb. 25 – Arsenal – League Cup Final
March 1 – Arsenal (A)
March 4 – Chelsea (H)
March 7 – Basel (H)
March 12 – Stoke (A)
March 17 – FA Cup quarters – or – March 18 – Brighton (H)
March 31 – Everton (A)
April 3/4 – UCL quarters
April 7 – Manchester United (H)
April 10/11 – UCL quarters
April 14 – Spurs (A)
April 21 – FA Cup semis – or – Swansea City (H)
April 24/25 – UCL semis
April 28 – West Ham (A)
May 1/2 – UCL semis
May 5 – Huddersfield Town (H)
May 13 – Southampton (A)
May 19 – FA Cup final
May 26 – UCL final

The read: Those are a lot of matches. It’s difficult to imagine City will lose the league even if its injury problems grow, but the congestions is going to cause a lot of consternation for Guardiola as he chases four trophies.

Manchester United (56)

 

Sunday – Newcastle United (A)
Feb. 17 – Huddersfield Town (A) – FA Cup
Feb. 21 – Sevilla (A) – UCL
Feb. 25 – Chelsea (H)
March 5 – Crystal Palace (A)
March 10 – Liverpool (H)
March 13 – Sevilla (H)
March 17 – FA Cup quarters – or – March 18 – West Ham (A)
March 31 – Swansea City (H)
April 3/4 – UCL quarters
April 7 – Manchester City (A)
April 10/11 – UCL quarters
April 14 – West Brom (H)
April 21 – FA Cup semis – or – Bournemouth (A)
April 24/25 – UCL semis
April 28 – Arsenal (H)
May 1/2 – UCL semis
May 5 – Brighton (A)
May 13 – Watford (H)
May 19 – FA Cup final
May 26 – UCL final

The read: Arsenal, Liverpool, and Chelsea all have to come to Old Trafford, and the Manchester Derby wedged between a pair of possible Champions League quarterfinals doubles down on the intrigue at the Etihad Stadium. United should still finish second, though…

Liverpool (51)

Sunday – Southampton (A)
Feb. 14 – Porto (A) – UCL
Feb. 24 – West Ham (H)
March 3 – Newcastle (H)
March 6 – Porto (H)
March 10 – Manchester United (A)
March 17 – Watford (H)
March 31 – Crystal Palace (A)
April 3/4 – UCL quarters
April 7 – Everton (A)
April 10/11 – UCL quarters
April 14 – Bournemouth (H)
April 21 – West Brom (A) – moved if WBA makes FA Cup semis
April 24/25 – UCL semis
April 28 – Stoke City (H)
May 1/2 – UCL semis
May 5  – Chelsea (A)
May 13 – Brighton (H)
May 26 – UCL final

The read: Liverpool’s disappointing FA Cup exit sets itself up nicely in February as the only club with just three dates remaining, and the Reds don’t face three of their Top Four competitors. Could this give them enough ammunition to pass United? Absolutely.

Chelsea (50)

Feb. 12 – West Brom (H)
Feb. 16 – Hull City (H) – FA Cup
Feb. 20 – Barcelona (H) – UCL
Feb. 25 – Manchester United (A)
March 4 – Manchester City (A)
March 10 – Crystal Palace (H)
March 14 – Barcelona (A) – UCL
March 17 – FA Cup quarters – or – Burnley (A)
April 1 – Spurs (H)
April 3/4 – UCL quarters
April 7 – West Ham (H)
April 10/11 – UCL quarters
April 14 – Southampton (A)
April 21 – FA Cup semis – or – Huddersfield Town (H)
April 24/25 – UCL semis
April 28 – Swans (A)
May 1/2 – UCL semis
May 5 – Liverpool (H)
May 13 – Newcastle United (A)
May 19 – FA Cup final
May 26 – UCL final

The read: Chelsea’s chances of dropping out of the Top Four — at least temporarily — are very high, with four of five matches between Feb. 20 and March 14 coming against Barcelona (twice), Manchester United, and Manchester City. Spurs and Liverpool are also on the docket, but come to Stamford Bridge.

Tottenham Hotspur (49)

Wednesday – Newport County – FA Cup replay
Saturday – Arsenal (H)
Feb. 13 – Juventus (A) – UCL
Feb. 17 – Rochdale (A) – FA Cup (if still in competition)
Feb. 26 – Crystal Palace (A)
March 3 – Huddersfield Town (H)
March 7 – Juventus (H) – UCL
March 11 – Bournemouth (A)
March 16 – Newcastle (H) – or – March 17 – FA Cup quarters
April 1 – Chelsea (A)
April 3/4 – UCL quarters
April 7 – Stoke City (A)
April 10/11 – UCL quarters
April 14 – Manchester City (H)
April 21 – FA Cup semis – or – Brighton (A)
April 24/25 – UCL semis
April 28 – Watford (H)
May 1/2 – UCL semis
May 5 – West Brom (A)
May 13 – Leicester City (H)
May 19 – FA Cup final
May 26 – UCL final

The read: If Spurs get past Juve, they’ll face the following between April 1-14: a UCL quarterfinalist twice, Man City, Chelsea, and Stoke (One of those things is not like the others). The key will be emerging from that stretch relatively unscathed, because points are there for the taking the rest of the way.

Arsenal (45)

Feb. 10 – Spurs (A)
Feb. 15 – Ostersunds FK (A) – UEL
Feb. 22 – Ostersunds FK (H) – UEL
Feb. 25 – Manchester City – League Cup final
March 1 – Manchester City (H)
March 4 –  Brighton (A)
March 8 – UEL Round of 16
March 11 – Watford (H)
March 15 – UEL Round of 16
March 17 – Leicester City (A)
April 1 – Stoke City (H)
April 5 – UEL quarters
April 7 – Southampton (H)
April 12 – UEL quarters
April 14 – Newcastle United (A)
April 21 – West Ham (H)
April 26 – UEL semis
April 28 – Manchester United (A)
May 3 – UEL semis
May 5 – Burnley (H)
May 13 – Huddersfield Town (A)
May 19 – UEL final

The read: If Arsenal gets through the next three weeks in decent table position, beginning with Saturday’s away North London Derby, the Gunners may well wind up dueling with Liverpool, Chelsea, and Spurs for third (let alone fourth). As noted, the Reds schedule may push them out of the discussion, but if Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal has exorcised its demons, well… Arsenal and fourth have often gone together like red wine and pasta sauce.

Prediction

Based on all of the above, foolishly assuming no major injuries, and making lightning quick estimates:

  1. Man City — 96 points
  2. Manchester United — 87
  3. Liverpool — 85
  4. Spurs — 77
  5. Arsenal — 77
  6. Chelsea — 75