Tottenham and Aston Villa’s wins on Sunday, combined with Manchester City’s draw with Liverpool has seen more change in the top four.

The Champions League qualification spot is now occupied by Spurs, but Villa are only a point behind in seventh and they along with City both have a game in hand on us and Liverpool.

It all points to a close finish. Even if all four teams aren’t in it to the death, you would imagine that it’s highly likely that at least a couple will be battling it out on the last day of the season.

A lot depends on the remaining games that the fourth placed rivals have left to play. I’ve had a scan through the fixtures to find the likely stumbling blocks that may result in dropped points.

Tottenham

Key Fixtures:
Everton (h) February 28th
Man City (a) March 6th
Stoke (a) March 20th
Arsenal (h) April 10th
Chelsea (h) April 17th
Man Utd (a) April 25th

There’s no doubting that we’ve got some tough fixtures left. In-form Everton travel to White Hart Lane on Sunday, having won at our ground in each of the last three seasons. We then face an away ‘six-pointer’ against Manchester City the following weekend.

An away trip to Stoke in March is winnable, but the fact remains that very few teams come away from the Britannia with all the points. Then comes a trio of fixtures in April against London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea at home, before a daunting trip to Old Trafford. We took four points from these fixtures last season and any advance on that would be reason to crack out the bunting.

Manchester City

Key Fixtures:
Chelsea (a) February 27th
Spurs (h) March 6th
Fulham (a) March 20th
Man Utd (h) April 17th
Arsenal (a) April 24th
Aston Villa (h) May 1st

City have an extremely tough away game next weekend at Chelsea, who have not lost and only drawn once at Stamford Bridge this season. They then play host to us the following week.

The trip to Craven Cottage in March has the potential for dropped points, as Fulham are in good form and win a large percentage of their home games. The Manc derby against United takes place in April, a week before an away trip to Arsenal. May sees a potentially decisive match against Aston Villa.

Liverpool

Key Fixtures:
Man Utd (a) March 21st
Birmingham (a) April 3rd
Chelsea (h) May 1st

An away trip to Old Trafford to face a Manchester United team hell bent on revenge, looks like a like a tough place to pick up even a point. In April, Liverpool travel to St Andrews, where only two sides have won this season, while May will see an Anfield visit for a possibly title chasing Chelsea.

Overall though, Liverpool have got the easiest run in of the four contenders. Of their remaining eleven games, they will play seven teams who are currently in the bottom half of the table. Let’s hope that those relegation battlers can pick up some points and that Liverpool go on a distracting run in the Europa League.

Aston Villa

Key Fixtures:
Stoke (a) March 13th
Chelsea (a) March 27th
Birmingham (h) April 25th
Man City (a) May 1st

Of Villa’s remaining fixtures, the away trips to Stoke, Chelsea and Manchester City all look tough, while there’s a Brum derby at Villa Park against Birmingham in April.

Yet it’s not a bad run in for Villa and they have a game in hand. What might derail their bid is the fact that they have a weaker squad than their rivals and the distraction of the Carling/FA Cups.

The Verdict

The reason that this battle for fourth place is so tight, is that the team involved have not just dropped points in the games that you’d expect them to, but have been charitably handing them out to all and sundry.

Given their run in and their experience, it’s no surprise that Liverpool remain the bookies’ favourites to preserve their Champions League place for at least another season. They might be a bit rubbish, but they remain the team to beat.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. If I’m honest – easiest first: Liverpool, Villa, Spurs, City. If City’s fixtures weren’t so hard, I would tip them for 4th. Now I think Liverpool will get it, followed by Spurs, then City.

  2. Im a Liverpool fan. I think Villa have by far the easiest run-in, as we have Chelsea and United still to come. Then Liverpool, then Spurs then City have got the hardest. Ive given up predicting results to be honest. 4th place could go to anyone and it will probably go to the last game. Also, if Everton beat you on Sunday (although I dont think you will lose) then they will join the fight for 4th. Interesting, if nothing else.

  3. By the way, I would hardly call Stoke away as ‘winnable’. I am not saying we can’t win, but Stoke make sure that even getting a point is a struggle. Only Chelsea, Man U and Birmingham during that impressive run managed to beat them there. Arsenal got beat and Liverpool and Man City got draws. A really tough game. Not looking forward to that one…

    • I don’t actually think we’ll win there either Tony, but by ‘winnable’ I mean that we have clearly got the more talented players.

      That of course, didn’t stop them beating us at White Hart Lane when we threw everything at them.

  4. Difficult to argue that. There are good things though, that may point to our advantage. Villa have cup stuff ahead and are the weakest of the four in terms of squad depth. Liverpool are obviously not the force they were and depend on Torres and Gerrard plus they have UEFA games to muddy things for them where the Prem is concerned. The biggest advantage we have over City is that they – hopefully – have finished their honeymoon period with Mancini who seems to be having back stage problems with the loyalty of his squad. I would be very happy to hear that Tevez remains away, and Bellamy continues to be a thorn in his side. The last couple of games they seem to have returned to their not brilliant pre-Christmas form. On the other hand our lot have been playing averagely since Christmas so can we hope that the result yesterday is a return to past form now that Pav is back in the groove. Along with a resurgent Bale and a returning Lennon plus Defoe still kicking regularly towards the goal backed by creativity all around, these things could point to Spurs being on the up and with us at 4th it might be a perfectly timed platform for a glorious run-in. But please Harry let’s leave Crouch out of the starting line-up!

  5. If we can keep away from injuries to key players, we have the best run in from all 4 of the contenders for 4th.Last season we trailed away but the lads will learn from that and 4/5 spot will do me…

  6. Come on guys we dont have a snowball in hells chance of a top 4 finish, we will do well to finish 7th. Everton will be pushing for that spot and their run in is as good as it gets I reckon. We need to beat everton at home City away, and win out of three against Utd, Asre, Chel. No way hose A

  7. I still maintain that Liverpool have an easier run in. Yes they have the top 2, but they can lose those and still get 4th. The rest of the games are winnable. Liverpool are the only one out of the 4 that do not have a six pointer left. If you lose one of those then you get set back a lot. You then end up drawing – which also sets back both teams. Villa have 2 home derbies which they should win, but you never know in a derby. Plus villa are away to Chelsea, Man City and Stoke. That is still tough (but easier than Spurs’ run-in!)

    • Way to Go on the optimism Big Johna. Good job you’re not in the dug-out. I think Liv might pip it but if all four teams play at their optimum I see no reason why we wouldn’t end up 5th at least. Look at the season so far. We haven’t even played that well and we’re fourth.

  8. Big Johna – a draw against City would suffice. A win out of the top 3 would be nice – but if it doesn’t happen it wouldn’t be the end. If you look at all four teams, they all have issues to sort out. They will ALL drop points. It will go to the wire. Have a little faith.

  9. Fair article.

    Personally, I’ve got to go for Liverpool to get the 4th spot. Liverpool were happy with a point out our place yesterday knowing that they have a returning Torres and simple run-in.

    City v. Spurs and City v. Villa games are huge games in this run in. Obviously, I fancy us at home. If we win both, I’d tip us to tuck in behind Liverpool.

    With the form Everton are in, I’m not sure they can be rued out just yet. I expect us to loose at Chelsea, so I was hoping Everton would do us a favour at Spurs. However, an Everton win puts them right in there.

    It also means our game in hand, against Everton, is another huge fixture…

  10. I know that everyone is looking at, and discussing which of the hopefulls have the easiest/hardest run in to the end of the season, but as a spurs supporter of many years I feel that the one thing that Liverpool have over the rest of us is the “winning mentality”, this is what United and Chelskie are all about. We are not there yet but our confidence has done spurs credit this season. Reckon on a 6th place with a nervous glance over the shoulder for Everton

  11. It seems like we all agree that Liverpool will get that spot. It seems like Rafa has worked out the best way to get his team to work – which is to bore the pants off of the opposition and spectators… Add a fit Torres, Gerrard, Johnson and Benayoun to that mix and they’ll get results. Spurs should still be optimistic. We are getting results and I still don’t think we are in top gear. If only we could find it…

  12. I really can’t see Liverpool clinching it. They are a poor side this season and the Europa is bound to take its toll.
    Perm any one from the other three.

  13. City fan here.

    Liverpool have by far the easiest run-in and will finish 4th.

    City, Spurs and Villa are all no better or worse than one another, though they perhaps have different qualities. I just hope one of them, even if it isn’t us, can do it. They’ll never have a better chance.

    Norfstander.

  14. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME AND I AM NOT HAVING A POP AT YOUR BLOG HERE. BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE THING THAT WILL CHANGE THE TOP FOUR AND THAT IS WHAT HAS JUST HAPPENED I RUGBY LEAGUE AND THATS A PLAYER HAS BEAN BANNED FOR TWO YEARS FOR GROWTH HORMONES THE ONE SUBSTANCE THAT WAS NOT DETECTABLE TILL NOW. THIS HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THE NEW TESTING LAWS. AND THIS PLAYER GOT TESTED IN A TRAINING CAMP IN THE CLOSE SEASON. AND THE TEST ANYTIME ANYWHERE THAT WILL BE INTRODUCED IN FOOTBALL SHORTLY WHEN THEY FINALLY AGREE TO HOW MANY FOOTBALLERS ARE ALLOWED IT SHOULD BE THIRTY BUT HAS NOW BEAN WATERED DOWN TO 20 OR 10 BY THE WORRIED FA FERGUSON GORDAN TAYLOR AND SOL CAMPBELL VOICED IS CONCERNS STAING FOOTBALLERS ARE A SPECIAL CASE HE SAID I WONDER WHY ITS NOT JUST ENERGY DRUGS MAKING PLAYERS LOOK DEADLY THIN LIKE THE REDS THERE IS ONE PLAYER LOOKS ON THE VERGE OF A BIG BREAK FROM FOOTBALL AND HE PLAYS AT THE BACK AND IS NAME STARTS WITH S

  15. I was really worried about us still having to play the 3 teams holding us in 4th, but after seeing everyone elses games i am more optimistic. However we still have hard games to play, Stoke and Everton. We must beat Everton or they could be in with a chance, all be it a very slim chance. I am taking one game at a time, Man City will lose to Chelsea at the weekend, if we win thats their game in hand gone, it will all be in our hands, lets hope Harry starts with Defoe and Pav up front, and Lennon gets the ok from his scan tomorrow.

  16. If the middle letter is “O” and he keeps kicking the ball back to his keeper, then holding his legs, while the oposition walk the ball in the net, i think it would be a shame if he left football, lol

  17. you guys are all forgetting that villas style mean they play better away and against good teams. villa for forth followed by liverpool, man city and spurs in 7th

  18. I hate to say it, and I fervently hope I’m wrong: I took a good look at all the remaining fixtures and concluded that Liverpool will get fourth. Easily.

  19. Villa fan here – not making any predictions and certainly not getting carried away by our chances after last year (it’s not pessimism, it’s keeping a level head!). I’m merely pointing out what a great comment “They might be a bit rubbish…” is. Brilliant stuff.

  20. Yes we (Liverpool) are rubbish but despite the fact that we have been so rubbish, were still only 1 point off top 4. Says a lot about the state of the Premier League in all honesty.

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