Can we rule out Chelsea after the efforts (or lack thereof) in recent weeks and particularly on Saturday? Is the top 4 set just 6 weeks into the season? We take a look at each of the current team’s chances of reaching the Champions League next term. Note to clubs: You need ten points minimum to qualify for our analysis after match day 6, and conveniently that is a top 8.
Manchester City – Current Position: 1st
Don’t they start seasons well? Reminiscent of last year, but seem to have a fair bit more about them this time around. Look the real deal, and it’s disingenuous to include them in discussions about the top 4 when it seems they will win the league comfortably. Kevin de Bruyne’s injury on the weekend may hamper them for games against Tottenham and Everton, but Pep Guardiola has flagged Raheem Sterling as the man to step up. And with 4 goals in 6 games so far, you wouldn’t put it past him. If Vincent Kompany can stay injury-free, and Sergio Aguero continue scoring for fun, it’s a matter of how far City. Predicted Finish: 1st.
Tottenham – Current Position: 2nd
The only other undefeated team, and despite a slow start with two draws in three games to open the season. Certainly have added more depth this season. The risk is that Champions League football is too draining, but maintain current form and they are every chance of pushing City next weekend, as well as throughout the season. Don’t rely on one or two players anymore and have barely missed a beat since Harry Kane’s unfortunate injury. The next few weeks will be crucial if they hope to hang to both the unbeaten streak and top 4 chances. Predicted Finish: 4th.
Arsenal – Current Position: 3rd
A 3-0 belting of London rivals Chelsea on Saturday was quite the statement. Any questions over Arsene Wenger have been put to bed, at least for the time being. Shkodran Mustafi looks a class defender and forms a back pair with Koscielny that the Gunners have been desperate for. Shouldn’t concede as they have in the past if these two stay on the pitch. At times they looked far too good for the Premier League at the weekend, let alone too good for Chelsea. Maintain their best form and a top 2 finish beckons. Predicted Finish: 2nd.
Liverpool – Current Position: 4th
With so many goal scoring options and Jurgen Klopp at the helm, it’s been a sight to behold with Liverpool in full flight. Save for a poor loss at Burnley, they have been nothing short of electrifying in the front half. Yet the defence and consistency appears the difference between a potential top 4 finish and just missing. We think they have too many threats up front though, and that this will cover for any failings at the back. Predicted Finish: 3rd.
Everton – Current Position: 5th
Potentially the biggest manager move in the off-season was Ronald Koeman coming in at Everton. What an effect he has had, turning a talented yet severely underperforming Everton squad into one that now actually plays. Came back to Earth on the weekend, and may not quite have the depth of talent to finish in the four. But they’re a massive threat, and will push hard at least for a Europa League return. Predicted Finish: 7th
Manchester United – Current Position: 6th
It was back to the Manchester United of old on the weekend. Consistency is an issue though, not to mention what Mourinho will do with Rooney. Half an hour of football produced in the first half on Saturday was the best we’ve witnessed in 12 months. At their best, and with such weapons of Ibra and Rashford up front, they could be unstoppable. At their best, they can rival the best of Arsenal and Liverpool. But the soft underbelly remains. We think they might just miss the 4. Predicted Finish: 5th.
Crystal Palace – Current Position: 7th
Another strong start to the season for Alan Pardew’s men with ten points. Three wins in a row will prove crucial as we’ve seen what happens when Palace or Pardew teams get on a poor run. Should definitely avoid relegation, and aim for a top half finish. The Townsend and Benteke combination will be crucial for goals, if they can develop an understanding then the bottom three will be out of the equation. Predicted Finish: 11th
Chelsea – Current Position: 8th
From what we’ve seen so far, Conte’s Chelsea is not too much better than the Mourinho/Hiddink’s equivalent. It’s hard to see them making up enough ground to finish in the top four, when it had seemed a possibility early. Glimpses of improvement early have been replaced by a shocking performance against a rampant Arsenal. Until the Blues bring in defensive reinforcements, it seems impossible for them to challenge for anything other than the Europa League. Predicted Finish: 6th