There’s something about the Premier League’s run-in that makes true May (or late April) mountains out of what would be January mole hills, and that’s exactly why we’re excited for what otherwise would be a Manchester City waltz to the title.
The same can be said for any table standing race, really, from the Top Four to seventh to the desperately sought 17th spot between Cardiff City and Brighton.
City enters its home stretch with a three match run of Burnley (away), Leicester City (home), and Brighton (away). Plop that early on their schedule and you’d strongly pencil them in for three wins (the same as you would for Liverpool with Huddersfield home, Newcastle away, Wolves home).
With the stakes raised, however, Burnley’s form and Sean Dyche‘s defensive acumen loom a bit larger. Leicester’s relatively decent record against Pep Guardiola feels like a slick slope, and Liverpool’s poor record versus Wolves foretells final week slippage.
And the Reds also have to deal with a pair of matches against Barcelona, which is also the only controllable path toward hardware in what could become another silverware-free year at Anfield (The Reds have won one cup since the start of the 2007-08 season, beating Cardiff City in penalties for the 2012 League Cup).
Here’s what’s left for the top dogs.
Man City: In the Pep era, City is 6W-1D against Burnley including twin 5-0 wins at the Etihad Stadium this season and a combined score line of 22-4. City has had a much worse time with Leicester, losing this season’s league contest at the King Power Stadium and advancing past the Foxes in penalty kicks during League Cup play. City is 4-0 against Brighton since 2017.
Liverpool: Liverpool is 3-0 and has not conceded a goal to Huddersfield this century. It’s 2W-1D against the Magpies in its last three outings, and Wolves have a 2W-1L advantage against the Reds since 2017.
The Top Four
Just a word on the form of the Premier League’s third- and fourth-place candidates and OH NO, MY EYES.
Spurs would have to really falter to fall out of the picture, given advantages in goal differential, points, matches won, and goals scored.
Here are the remaining fixtures.
Spurs: v. West Ham, at Bournemouth, v. Everton
Chelsea: at Man Utd, v. Watford, at Leicester
Arsenal: at Leicester, v. Brighton, at Burnley
Man Utd: v. Chelsea, at Huddersfield, v. Cardiff City
United needs to beat Chelsea, then hope to pad its goal differential while asking for upsets of Chelsea and Arsenal.
Remember: If Arsenal or Chelsea win the Europa League and finishes in fifth or sixth, and if Spurs win the Champions League and finish in fifth or sixth (however unlikely that is), fourth place will not be good enough for Champions League qualification.
It still looks like the route to Europa League, provided Man City beats Watford in the FA Cup Final.
Wolves are in control following their surprising demolition of Arsenal on Wednesday, but that could change come Saturday at chasers Watford.
Everton will be hoping for a draw in that match and a win of its own at Crystal Palace, while Leicester City begins a murderer’s row of fixtures with a visit from Arsenal.
The goal differentials are close, and all the teams have won 14. It’s truly anyone’s ballgame, though Leicester’s fixture list make the Foxes a very long shot. And Matchday 38 features three of the four facing Top Six teams. Watford hosts West Ham. Could that spell UEL for Elton John’s favorite side?
Fulham and Huddersfield Town are already headed for the Championship, while Southampton would need a tremendous 0-3 run with hemorrhaged goals to be a factor for 18th.
This comes down to Brighton and Cardiff City.
Chris Hughton‘s Seagulls have 34 points, a minus-22 goal differential, and nine wins.
Neil Warnock‘s Bluebirds have 31, minus-35, and nine wins.
Left on the docket for Brighton are Newcastle at home, Arsenal away, and Man City at home.
Cardiff will visit Fulham, hosts Crystal Palace, and head to Manchester United.
It’s not an impossible dream for Cardiff, but it’s going to have to start with a win this weekend and a Brighton loss to Newcastle that puts the sides level on points going into the final two. If the Seagulls can beat Newcastle, forget about Cardiff’s chances.