Predicting the Remaining Games and Final Standings for Premier League's Top 4
Twenty-four matches remain that will determine the destination of the Premier League title.
At present, Liverpool sit atop the table with 71 points from 32 matches and are two points clear of second-place Chelsea.
But Manchester City, in third spot, have two games in hand and could establish a two-point lead on the Reds if they win out.
Arsenal, interestingly, are the only title contender without a match remaining against a top-four opponent.
So how will the run-in shake down?
The following slideshow will take a chronological look at each of the remaining matches involving top four sides—an exercise that will predict the new champion on May 11.
Manchester City-Southampton, April 5
Manchester City can move to within a point of Premier League leaders Liverpool with a win at home to Southampton in Saturday’s early match.
The Saints are coming off a 4-0 trouncing of Newcastle at St. Mary’s, and the all-England attack of Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Ricky Lambert is absolutely flying.
This will be one of City’s trickier assignments between now and mid-May.
Chelsea-Stoke, April 5
Don’t look now, but Stoke are on a three-match winning streak and haven’t lost in four (a run that includes a 1-0 defeat of Arsenal) ahead of Saturday’s late kick-off at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s Premier League home record under Jose Mourinho needs no introduction, and after the embarrassment of Crystal Palace the Blues will be itching to get back to the summit.
Everton-Arsenal, April 6
Everton have played a game fewer than the Gunners, and by beating them on Sunday they could pull to within a single point of the North London outfit.
Arsenal showed some steel in their 1-1 draw against Manchester City, Saturday, but can they come up with a second successive display of mental fortitude?
West Ham-Liverpool, April 6
Liverpool are flying on all cylinders and will take some stopping when they visit the Boleyn Ground on Sunday.
Only once in their last eight matches have the Reds failed to score at least three goals, and while West Ham have been difficult to break down these last few weeks they’ll likely fall to their opponent’s offensive dominance.
Liverpool-Manchester City, April 13
This could end up being the match that determines the title
Manchester City were 2-1 winners in the reverse fixture back in December, but since then Liverpool have lost just one of 13 matches.
That said, the Reds’ sometimes shaky defense will be in for a stiff examination over these 90 minutes, and City should be able to squeak a win.
MANCHESTER CITY WIN
Swansea-Chelsea, April 13
Chelsea, by this point, will either know their opponent for the Champions League semifinals or be out of the competition.
Swansea’s 3-0 win at home to Norwich, Saturday, represented their first victory in seven, but they lost 1-0 to the Blues on Boxing Day and there’s nothing to suggest they won’t be handed another defeat by the title contenders.
Arsenal-West Ham, April 15
This match comes three days after Arsenal’s FA Cup semifinal against Wigan at Wembley.
Win it, and they just might carry some good momentum into the rest of the schedule. Lose it, and the bottom could totally fall out from under them.
Manchester City-Sunderland, April 16
Manchester City will play one of their games in hand on Wednesday, April 16, and by the final whistle a more complete picture of the title race could emerge.
On paper they shouldn’t have much trouble with Sunderland, especially at Etihad Stadium, although by this time the spectre of relegation will have become very real to the struggling Black Cats.
Still, City shouldn’t have much trouble sweeping them aside—especially with first place within their grasp.
MANCHESTER CITY WIN
Hull-Arsenal, April 19
Hull are in some relegation trouble of their own, and Saturday’s 1-0 defeat away to Stoke will have been particularly difficult to stomach.
They lost 2-0 away to Arsenal in the reverse fixture earlier this season, and it’s almost inconceivable that they could muster the necessary offense against the Gunners—even on their own patch.
Norwich-Liverpool, April 20
This early Sunday kick-off will give Liverpool the chance to send a message to both Chelsea, who play later in the day, and Manchester City, who are idle until Monday.
Luis Suarez scored four goals in a 5-1 win over the Canaries back in December (Raheem Sterling had the other), and it’s difficult to envision anything other than a similar trouncing delivered by the Reds at Carrow Road.
Chelsea-Sunderland, April 20
Should they have eliminated Paris Saint-Germain from the Champions League quarterfinals, a two-legged semifinal tie will be very much on Chelsea’s mind when they welcome Sunderland to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues prevailed in a 4-3 barnstormer at the Stadium of Light back in December, but by this point the Black Cats will be looking to keep things especially tight as they look to avoid relegation.
Manchester City-West Bromwich Albion, April 21
Spurred on by a likely Liverpool win on Sunday, Manchester City should have little trouble dispatching West Bromwich Albion at Etihad Stadium.
Interestingly, the Baggies lost a close, 3-2 decision to City on December 4, but they’ve looked woeful at times under new manager Pepe Mel and are unlikely to put up much of a fight on April 21.
MANCHESTER CITY WIN
Liverpool-Chelsea, April 27
How things can change in four months.
At the end of December it was Chelsea beating Liverpool 2-1 at Stamford Bridge, but by the end of April the re-match could easily represent the Blues last chance to re-position themselves as title contenders.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will have the opportunity to put some serious distance between themselves and their opponents with a win at Anfield, and based on recent form it’s one they’re unlikely to pass up.
Chelsea simply don’t have the offense to match the Reds in a head-to-head.
Crystal Palace-Manchester City, April 27
Crystal Palace-Manchester City is the final kick-off on the last Sunday in April.
Palace, who are presently five points above the relegation places, will still be looking to ensure their own safety when they welcome the title contenders to Selhurst Park.
City, meanwhile, will have no doubt kept an eye on the Liverpool-Chelsea match prior to this encounter.
MANCHESTER CITY WIN
Arsenal-Newcastle, April 28
This Monday Night Football showdown will see Newcastle manager Alan Pardew return to the touchline following his seven-match suspension.
But don’t expect an immediate uptick in his side’s performance.
They may be comfortably mid-table, but Newcastle have been outscored 7-0 in their past two matches and are quickly becoming the Premier League’s late-season whipping-boys.
Arsenal will win this comfortably.
Arsenal-West Bromwich Albion, May 3
Needing to win out while getting significant help from elsewhere in order to keep their title hopes alive, Arsenal will hold up their end of the bargain in the Premier League’s first match of May.
It’s within the realm of possibility that West Bromwich Albion will have dropped into the relegation places by May 3, and with healthy bodies back in the lineup the Gunners will look to make quick and easy work of the Baggies.
Chelsea-Norwich, May 3
Given that all 10 of this Sunday’s matches will kick off simultaneously, the drama can be expected to build throughout the afternoon.
While Arsenal are hosting West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea will be entertaining Norwich at Stamford Bridge, although by this time retaining third place in the standings could well be their primary focus.
To that end, they shouldn’t get too much trouble from Norwich, who they beat 3-1 on October 6.
Crystal Palace-Liverpool, May 3
Liverpool’s quest for a first title in 24 years will take them to Selhurst Park, where on the season’s final Saturday they’ll face relegation battlers Crystal Palace.
Having just hosted Manchester City the week before, Palace will likely find themselves on the end of another heavy defeat, and with glory beckoning Liverpool will look to rise to the occasion.
But drop-zone candidates can put up quite the scrap, and the Reds may well have to grind out a win in their second-last match of the campaign.
Everton-Manchester City, May 3
Manchester City’s final match away from Etihad Stadium will take them to Goodison Park, where on May 3 they’ll face an Everton side that may still have an outside chance at Champions League football.
Through 15 home matches so far this season the Toffees have lost just once while conceding on 13 times.
They’ll pose a stiff test for City, and the title race could be provided a monumental shake-up as a result.
Manchester City- Aston Villa, May 7
Manchester City have been well-near unbeatable at home this season, and when they finally make up their final game in hand they’ll face Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium.
Three points will take City top if they win, with Liverpool then a point back, Chelsea three points adrift and Arsenal seven points off the top.
Assuming they’ll have had a difficult time at Everton the last time out, City will come out guns blazing, and by the final whistle the Premier League title will be theirs to lose.
MANCHESTER CITY WIN
Cardiff-Chelsea, May 11
And so it comes down to the final day.
Manchester City and Liverpool will fight it out for the title while Chelsea, by virtue of an inferior goal-difference, will be locked into third position.
Arsenal won’t be part of the conversation and, indeed, could well be facing a must-win situation in order to qualify for the Champions League.
Chelsea will complete their schedule with a straightforward win away to Cardiff.
Liverpool-Newcastle, May 11
Nerves can often be expected on championship Sunday, especially if the club knocking on the door hasn’t won the title since 1990.
To that end, thank goodness Liverpool are hosting Newcastle.
This will be a walkover for the Reds, who will leave their destiny in the hands of Manchester City.
Norwich-Arsenal, May 11
The prospect of Norwich possibly facing relegation on the final day, and Arsenal possibly still looking to lock up fourth place, should make this match particularly intriguing.
Arsenal thumped the Canaries 4-1 back in October, and with Everton perhaps still breathing down their necks they’ll post another resounding scoreline against their Sunday opponents.
Manchester City-West Ham, May 11
It will all come down to Manchester City’s match at home to West Ham.
Coming up against an opponent with absolutely nothing to play for, City will win comfortably and, in so doing, win the title for a second time in three seasons.
That the title race will have come down to the final day will once again mark out the Premier League as one of world football’s most entertaining divisions, and the relegation contest will have no doubt provided its share of thrills as well.
MANCHESTER CITY WIN
Given the preceding predictions, here is how the top four will shake down come May 11:
1. Manchester City (87)
2. Liverpool (86)
3. Chelsea (84)
4. Arsenal (80)