Champions League 2017-12-28 12:05 PM

The war for automatic qualification for the Champions League is heating up: with Manchester City, United then Chelsea looking to have the top three taken.

 

It’s early to call it, of course, yet it looks as though Manchester City will win the league. I do not think many will argue this prediction. I also expect Chelsea to obtain second place with Manchester United in third.

Spurs are looking like finishing at least fourth, which would leave fifth for Liverpool. Arsenal will likely end up in sixth, both losing a Champions League place in the process. There’s also a legitimate chance, of course, that an English team could win the most prestigious European competition this season.

 

Spurs

Tottenham Hotspur could easily upset the current top three ranking with their array of forward options. One reason I envision them finishing fourth was their struggle to settle on their favourite starting line-up.

Spurs are almost as dangerous as Liverpool in attack, similarly though, they are still to complete their ideal line-up. Although since the regular introduction of Son Heung-Min to the starting team, they are rapidly improving.

The return of Toby Alderweireld will stabilise the defence by quite drastically too. When The Lilywhites have all the pieces of their puzzle in place they will challenge again for the top three as they did during the last two campaigns.

Mauricio Pochettino lead his side to second last May, however, does seem to wrestle with his ‘best 11’. This may be partly due to their fantastic achievements in the Champions League making rotation imperative.

They currently sit fifth, one point away from Liverpool in fourth place. Their key man Harry Kane was misfiring then scoring, vice versa. Although two hat-tricks in a row have rocketed him back tot the league’s top scorer. Kane will want to at-least reach 30 for the season: especially since breaking Alan Shearer’s calendar year scoring record by three with 39.

 

Chelsea, United

Chelsea are current Champions and are still a deadly outfit with much strength in depth. Manchester United are much improved this season in Mourinho’s second term at the helm. Having said that, they are not the finished article by any means, by their expectations. A draw away at Leicester then another shared point at home to Burnley is testament to this.

The consistency of The Pensioners is ahead of United at the moment. This could change when they meet each other again in February. The Manchester club has more than enough firepower at their disposal to beat Chelsea.

Expect to see either take the initiative with an early goal then to sit back defending when they play rivals for the Champions League spots.

 

Liverpool, Arsenal

This leaves the red team in North London or the red team on Merseyside, either club will consider it a failure to finish below fourth. In their hotly contested match on 22 December, both teams started a little cautionary with freedom to attack. Until the second-half when we saw four goals in six minutes.

If anyone will lead Liverpool a Champions League spot, Mohammed Salah will be that man. He added to his impressive leading goalscorer status for The Reds again. Incredible to think, he’s not even a striker.

Their draw again highlighted both team’s attacking prowess, also their defensive frailties. Either side has conceded around a third more than the three clubs above them. To ensure they compete with the top three, I believe both teams must strengthen during the January transfer.

Liverpool’s thrashing of Swansea then Bournemouth did proceed them drawing at home with West Brom

Goalkeepers for Arsenal as well as Liverpool (Petr Cech and Simon Mignolet) have been questioned: Jamie Carragher live on Sky Sports for one example. The respective “stoppers” have certainly not shown the form of David De Gea, Thibaut Courtois or Ederson.

This leaves The Gunners and The Reds to compete over fifth then sixth position. They are both the least consistent teams from the top six sides. Their defensive record shows instability in relation to team fluidity. Having said this, if Alexi Sanchez returned to form, he could be the difference between Arsene Wenger’s team qualifying for the elite European competition.

 

Predicted Final Standings

1: Manchester City

2: Chelsea

3: Manchester United

4: Spurs

5: Liverpool

6: Arsenal

 

Arsenal Vs Chelsea (3rd January)
Liverpool Vs Man City (14th January)
Burnley vs Man United (20th January)
Liverpool Vs Spurs (4th February)
Spurs Vs Arsenal (10th February)
Man United Vs Chelsea (25th February)

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