The Fascinating End of EPL
It is interesting to follow up events in EPL as the season heads into the penultimate. The 2016/2017 EPL season is not just any other season. The case is different this year and no surprises like last year’s Leicester City followed up on EPL’s achievement by doing well in the Champions League. Even regulars including Arsenal and Manchester City failed to get into the quarterfinals. Representing the blue side of London, Chelsea has been on top of the table since October last year. No one doubts that they will emerge champions.
The top four positions are now the focus of both analysts and participating teams. Finishing in the top four positions comes with a ticket to take part in champions league football next season. Already Chelsea and Tottenham are sure of clinching two positions. It is a race among four teams to get the remaining two chances. Chelsea was transformed by the arrival of Antonio Conte after resigning for handling the Italian National Team. He came with new systems and formations besides instilling necessary unity in the dressing. Discipline was missing during Jose Mourinho’s fateful last season at Stamford Bridge. The performance has been consistent since they received a beating from Arsenal in October.
Tottenham season has many features such as fast-paced football, ability to score many goals and use of counter attacks. They have accumulated enough points to keep the second and Champions league football next season. Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal are the four teams battling for the remaining two champions’ league football positions. They retain equal weights to get the two slots. Sixth and Europa football is gone with Everton.
Considerably, Liverpool has an easy path. Although it failed to get past Southampton in the last outing, odds in the last three games favor them. The only threat is that competitors have games in hand. Guardiola’s Manchester City is in the form of the season and with two more games in hand, they can leapfrog Liverpool to third. Wins in their remaining matches will assure them of the third spot.
The steeple for Manchester United is longer. It is at crossroads. They have secured their spot in the Europa League Final. Winning the trophy assures them of automatic qualification into the Champions League next season. The priority and main focus for Manchester United is Champions League football. It is also the shortest path for the team. Chances are they use this option.
Assessing the case for Arsenal is rib cracking. The boss is the most experienced coach in EPL. The question stills lingers over his failure to command performances. For the first time in the history of football, Wenger beat Mourinho in a competitive match. It will be history if Wenger fails to qualify for Champions League. For the first time in the history of EPL, the top four finish is more challenging.
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