The stuttering race for the fourth Champions League place continues in the Premier League and although four teams remain in contention, it is Liverpool who are looking most in danger of being left behind.
It’s safe to assume that Spurs will finish at least third because they, along with the two Manchester clubs, have looked a far better team than any of those in the places below them in the table.
And so there is realistically only fourth place for Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool to play for.
At present, I would consider Arsenal to be favourites due to the way in which they’ve fought their way back into contention following an awful start to the season. The momentum, albeit one which hasn’t been free of a few stumbles, has seen them move above Chelsea and they currently occupy the all important fourth place in the table.
Almost the opposite is true of Chelsea, and after an encouraging start to the season they have been hugely disappointing. Even the ongoing troubles of Fernando Torres no longer make a great deal of headlines because there are many of his other team-mates at Chelsea who are performing below what would be expected of them.
Chelsea’s form hasn’t caused a great deal of personal surprise, mainly due to the unconvincing manner of some of their early season victories, although it is also said that the mark of a title-winning side is one that can take points from games without performing in top form. Chelsea were certainly doing that in August before losing ground on the leaders which they have never since looked like making up.
Meanwhile, Newcastle continue to surprise. Alan Pardew and his players have done a fine job to be where they are, and even though most wouldn’t have expected the Magpies to sustain their incredible form which they began the season with, Newcastle have consistently took points in the games they are capable of taking points in.
Even though I don’t see them having enough to claim Champions League football, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Newcastle secured Europa League football through a fifth placed finish.
In contrast, Liverpool have found it difficult to take points that their performances may well have deserved. Goals have been less frequent than would be expected from the players they have and the volume of chances that have been created in the vast majority of games.
Progress in both domestic cup competitions and off-pitch controversies have turned attention away from Liverpool’s league form which reads two wins in their last nine games, which included fixtures against all of the bottom four teams in the Premier League. Only one of those games resulted in a win.
The opening day draw at Anfield against Sunderland – a match which should have been wrapped up by half time – has had seven further repetitions and if performances don’t start producing points there remains a possibility that Liverpool could, in the same season, enjoy only their second ever unbeaten home Premier League campaign but endure their worst return of home league wins for 58 years.
It’s all to play for the four sides involved, although it is safe to predict that there’ll be more plenty more drama, twists and turns before everything is decided in May.