When the Premier League resumes later this year, there will be just nine games to go. There are three main areas that teams focus on – going for the title, trying to secure a place in European competitions the following season or trying to avoid relegation.
With Liverpool almost certain to win a first league title for 30 years, there is plenty to play for in the other two scenarios so let’s take an in-depth look at how the three races are shaping up.
Will it be Liverpool’s year?
The answer to that question is almost certainly ‘yes’. The Reds are 25 points clear with nine matches remaining, meaning they can win their next game despite their closest challengers, Manchester City, also winning.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have swept all before them this campaign. After running City close last season, Klopp has moulded together a squad which could dominate the domestic scene for years to come. They have arguably the best front three in Europe, one of the finest goalkeepers in the world alongside a defensive unit led brilliantly by the imperious Virgil Van Dijk.
They will take some stopping next term too as they have turned Anfield into a fortress. Despite City’s wealth, it could be a long time before the title returns to Manchester.
The quest for European places
In the wake of UEFA imposing a two-year ban on Manchester City taking part in European competitions as of next season, this has thrown the race wide open. Leicester City are in pole position to take the second Champions League spot after Liverpool in what has been an impressive season for Brendan Rodgers’ outfit.
Chelsea are also in line for another crack at the Champions League, which would cap an impressive debut season at the helm for Blues legend Frank Lampard.
After that, Manchester United have hit form at the right time and look a solid bet to nick that final spot. The Europa League is where is gets very intriguing. Wolves have had another fantastic campaign and head that race but Sheffield United are level on points with them. Could Chris Wilder’s side produce a fairytale having only got promotion back to the Premier League this season? Tottenham are a further two points behind that duo and have it all to do but could have Harry Kane back for the remainder of the season.
The battle for Premier League survival
There is always a very close race to see if manages to keep their Premier League status intact at the end of any season – and this season looks like being no different.
Norwich are bottom and six points adrift of safety and look like they will get relegated back to the Championship after just one season in the Premier League.
However, the other two places look to be between five teams with just four points separating those sides. Aston Villa have 25 points but are on a wretched run, losing four in a row in the Premier League. Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham all sit on 27 points with Brighton on 29.
Bournemouth have endured a horror run since Christmas and Eddie Howe has his work cut out to keep the Cherries up. Watford had turned a corner under Nigel Pearson but their form has dipped. However, they do look best equipped out of all the teams fighting for survival.
West Ham would be the biggest surprise if they were to get relegated given the infrastructure in place at the club, having spent millions on new players as well. Brighton should be safe but need to cut out the draws.