The race for the Champions League is heating up, as the Premier League standings got shuffled once again after Week 24’s group of matches.
Heading into Week 25, the top of the Premier League table looks much the same as it did before, but some squads are edging closer to contention. Some teams, like Everton, got a much-needed boost to their Champions League hopes, while others, like Manchester United, missed big opportunities to move ahead in the standings.
Below, you’ll find the complete Premier League table for Week 25, as well as some analysis of how Week 24 shaped the standings.
At seventh place in the EPL, Manchester United is very precariously placed in the standings.
The Red Devils really needed a win against Stoke City to keep pace with the top of the league, but they just couldn’t get one in a rainy, messy 2-1 loss.
Now, their hopes of advancing to the Champions League seem very grim indeed, as Jason Burt of The Telegraph writes:
Granted United are 15 points ahead, but they still languish behind fourth-placed Liverpool, who could raise their advantage to a daunting nine points should they win at West Bromwich Albion today.
That would place even further doubt on United’s questionable prospects of a top-four finish. They would then only qualify for the Champions League by winning it, and not even Moyes can argue that is likely. This was their eighth league defeat of the campaign, and the first time Stoke had beaten United in a league game since Boxing Day 1984. Moyes, looking increasingly desperate on the touchline despite his optimistic words later on, is continuing to collect all kinds of unwanted records.
United have lost five of their last eight – and one of those ’victories’ ultimately ended in defeat as Sunderland beat them in the Capital One Cup semi-final on penalties. As much a lift as the £37 million signing of Juan Mata has provided, it has not been enough.
Next week, Manchester United get to play lowly Fulham at home, which might afford them more of a chance to integrate Mata into the lineup.
Still, for a team with as many stars as United, it’s puzzling that they keep suffering setbacks against teams with inferior talent.
On the more positive side of things is Everton, who won a tough match, 2-1, over Aston Villa.
Kevin Mirallas won the game for Everton on a free kick in the 85th minute, bringing the squad firmly into Champions League contention.
"I think it's without the doubt the most satisfying win of the season,” Everton manager Roberto Martinez told BBC Sport. “You come in on the back of a disappointing result and you want to get it right straight away. But in the first half we were too responsible, the players were thinking too much, and we were too concerned with the outcome rather than enjoying it.”
Now, the Toffeemen sit just one point behind Liverpool for the fourth and final Champions League spot after Tottenham could only manage a draw. Everton is in prime position to seize control of the spot, especially if they can beat the Spurs next week on the road to hold them off. After that, they get a pair of easier home matches—against Crystal Palace and Swansea City—to earn vital points.
Nothing is settled yet in the EPL, but Everton is starting to look better and better.
By contrast, Manchester United is starting to look out of it, but it’s hard to tell how well they’ll play once Mata’s effect is fully realized.
These results will make the next few weeks of matches riveting to watch.