Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers maintains that his team is in a very good spot when it comes to qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
Yes, of course, he’s disappointed that his men went up a man but then down a goal and could only manage a 1-1 draw with Southampton at St. Mary’s on Friday, a Premier League encounter that saw Saints with 10 men for 80 of the 90-plus minutes.
Still, a weekend off and a look at the table will keep Leicester City focused on the prize.
“When we get back in again on Monday it is another point towards where we want to go,” Rodgers said. “We’ve now got four games to go. We’re in a brilliant position.”
The run-in for both the Champions League and Europa League places could give you a headache considering that Chelsea and Arsenal could both finish outside the top four but qualify for the UCL by winning the respective current editions of the tournament.
Why Leicester should make the top four…
Leicester gets Newcastle next at the King Power Stadium. The Foxes have beaten Newcastle four-straight times across all competitions, and a win would make it very difficult for them to miss out on the top four…. if not for their final three fixtures, which all could be top-end six-pointers.
May 12 sees a trip to Manchester United. Three days later it’s an FA Cup Final versus Chelsea before a trip to Stamford Bridge to meet the Blues on May 19. If the final day has the Foxes in uncertain territory for the second-straight year, they’ll host Tottenham.
What works best for Leicester? First and foremost their maxing out at 75 points leaves them well in control of their destiny, while its nearest threast — Chelsea — also meets Man City, Arsenal, and Villa.
…but then again, here’s why Leicester could slip
Here’s the thing, though: Say Leicester beats Newcastle but is swept by Man United, Chelsea, and Spurs. That pitiful season exit would leave them with 66 points, almost certainly below the Blues but still likely for fourth, right?
Why? First off, while it’s true that only four other teams can pass the Foxes by winning all of their matches — Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham, and Everton — it only takes one of the quartet to push the Foxes into fifth.
Here’s the case for each:
West Ham (55 points, 70 max) — The Irons may be the least tested of the bunch but meet just one top seven rival (Everton) while tangling with Burnley, Brighton, West Brom, and Southampton.
Liverpool (54 points, 69 max) — The Reds’ entire season comes down to five matches, the first a trip to Manchester United who just played Roma on Thursday. Then it’s Southampton, West Brom, Burnley, and Crystal Palace.
Tottenham (53 points, 68 max) — If Ryan Mason leads Spurs back into the Champions League, it will come because of a forgiving-enough schedule that ends with a trip to the King Power Stadium.
Everton (52 points, 70 max) —The Toffees have Villa twice, West Ham away, and Man City away on the final day, plus Sheffield United and Wolves.