Manchester United currently sit seven points adrift of the top four after only 12 games this season – we need an excellent run for the remainder of the season in order to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Manchester City have picked up 89% of a possible 36 points so far this season, drawing at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and at Liverpool in an otherwise perfect season. Liverpool are only two points further back on the defending champions, drawing at Arsenal and Chelsea as well as the 0-0 at home to the league leaders. Manchester City are the odds on favourites according to the odds, for those who are betting at Unibet.
These two teams look like running away with the 2018-19 title race, leaving just two more Champions League spots up for grabs. They are currently occupied by Chelsea on 28 points and Tottenham Hotspur on 27.
Maurizio Sarri has made an excellent start to life at Stamford Bridge, even if they required a stoppage time equaliser at home to us last month. However, they are reliant on their attack and Eden Hazard in particular. They were notably held 0-0 at home to Everton before the international break after the visitors were able to keep Eden Hazard quiet. Though they have only conceded eight goals so far the defence doesn’t look so sturdy as these numbers would suggest.
Not being a big fan of the Chelsea defence, particularly David Luiz, don’t be surprised to see the Blues drop more points as the season progresses – even though they currently remain unbeaten. They host Manchester City next month in what will be a tough test.
Much was made of Tottenham Hotspur not signing a single player over the summer and their new stadium has caused them all kinds of embarrassment off the field. However, Mauricio Pochettino is getting the best out of his side on the pitch, even with Harry Kane not firing on all cylinders.
However, Spurs need to win their last two Champions League group stage matches if they want to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages. They’re at home to Internazionale and at Barcelona. These could certainly affect their Premier League performances either side of each fixture.
Arsenal are three points behind Spurs themselves in the Premier League and have found their form under Unai Emery after a slow and difficult start. The Spaniard is certainly getting the best out of their attack that includes Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Don’t be surprised if the Gunners finish above both of their London rivals come May.
In terms of us finishing in the top four from here on out is going to be tough. We’re in a good position in the Champions League to qualify with a game to spare. We don’t have the EFL Cup as a distraction either. But performances on the field haven’t been great. Yes, we were on a good run before the derby, but that relied on stoppage time winners versus both Newcastle United and Bournemouth – we simply need to be winning these games more comfortably. We’ve also been thrashed by both Manchester City and Tottenham already this season which doesn’t make good reading for future matches against the fellow top four challengers.
Jose Mourinho needs to sure up our defence. It’s been our achilles heel for the first 12 games of the season, keeping just one clean sheet. Once Antonio Valencia is fit again he’ll be an upgrade on Ashley Young, defensively. But Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof aren’t looking like a top four partnership in the middle. Jose needs to put his differences aside with Eric Bailly and get the Ivorian back into the starting lineup ASAP.
Our attack is excellent on paper but they’re still not delivering under the boss. Romelu Lukaku was dropped from the side before picking up an injury due to a lack of form. Alexis Sanchez has struggled badly since joining us in January, whilst Juan Mata isn’t getting the game time he deserves.
If Jose can fix our attack then a top four is certainly possible, but there’s been limited signs of him doing so. Can we make the top four this season? Never write us off…