The End is Nigh

Ominous. That is of course what the March international break is for many teams. There are around ten games left and those with top four or survival aspirations will be hoping nobody gets injured on international duty or that their players simply don’t get picked. It also makes for a mad month in April with fantasy football managers preparing for double game weeks, rotation galore and the latter stages of domestic and European competitions. So how does the future look for each team?

Arsenal

They’re not going to get relegated but things are looking increasingly bleak at the Emirates. Sure they’re competing for the top four and FA Cup but that’s the last thing Gunners’ fans want to hear. It’s the same every year. They crashed out of Europe and have no hope of winning the title, while Wenger’s under huge pressure to step down and star duo Sanchez and Ozil have contract issues looming over them. I think they’ll finally finish outside the top four and calls for change may well be answered.

Bournemouth

A tough next four games could leave Howe’s men needing results in the remaining five against lesser opposition. With a nine point buffer they’re unlikely to get relegated and a mid-to-lower-table finish would be satisfactory. Next season will be about productive signings and they have every right to feel aggrieved to have lost Ake in January. The Cherries will hope to attract young names like that permanently in the summer.

Burnley

Wildly inconsistent all season but their well documented home form will save them from the drop. They could still finish mid-table with their remaining fixtures and their focus may well be on improving results away from Turf Moor in preparation for next season. Summer investment is key to challenging more effectively in the league plus domestic cups.

Chelsea

Almost certain for the title and so far clear that they could have one eye on the double, which would be a successful first season for Conte. Their domination has been helped by a lack of European competition and they will need to strengthen in order to rotate more next season. They will be very pleased with their season after changing to a 3-4-3 system.

Crystal Palace

Three successive wins merely masks the dismal season they’ve had. They still have to play all of the top six and as such are in real danger of going down. Neither Pardew nor Allardyce could get this group of underachieving players up for it and quite frankly with the talent at their disposal they deserve to be in the championship next year.

Everton

The Toffees vowed to fight for Europe to keep their best asset and so far both parties have held up their end of the bargain. United and Arsenal have two games in hand but they have to play each of them away, so it could get very interesting. Investment is key to reaching the next level but unfortunately it’s probably the year Lukaku leaves and things go backwards again. 7th seems all too familiar for Everton.

Hull

I feel for Hull. They simply do not have the squad for the Premier League but selling Snodgrass and Livermore did not help at all. Their remaining fixtures will give them hope but it will be a fight to the very end. It could go to the final day at home to Spurs.

Leicester City

They’ve done a Chelsea. Since winning the league nothing has gone right on home soil. Their European exploits only mask that but I’m sure Foxes fans are loving it. They have a mixed run-in and still need to work hard to stay in the league. A two-legged quarter final against Atletico Madrid is going to wear them out so we’ll see if they still have the resilience of last season’s winners soon enough. It’s a shame Ranieri had to lose his job for the players to show their true colours.

Liverpool

Klopp could not have requested  a better fixture list. Points in the bag puts pressure on United and Arsenal, who have two games in hand. If they can beat their city rivals Everton next time out they could go some way to deciding the landscape of English teams in Europe next season. Their squad however need to start performing against the lesser teams and treat every game as a final or they could face another year of Europa League monotony. I do however fancy them to finish fourth.

Manchester City

Their next two games could be season defining and they have an FA Cup semi final against Arsenal in April to look forward to. Their squad is strong enough to battle on both fronts but they haven’t looked all too confident in trying to play Guardiola’s way. A rough total of 78 points should see them secure Champions League qualification again and then if rumours are to be believed it’s all change come summer.

Manchester United

The Special One is having an underwhelming season. Their standout performer is 35, the world’s most expensive player is having a hard time adjusting to the Premier League and they occupied 6th place for what seems like forever. They are however still in with a chance of a Champions League spot via two different means and a Europa League win would be a good start for Mourinho. Too many draws see them vying for 5th with Arsenal.

Middlesborough

Karanka didn’t really do anything wrong. His style was pragmatic, as you’d expect from a Mourinho understudy. They’ve conceded less goals than Arsenal and Liverpool but scored the least in the league. Unfortunately that doesn’t look like changing and it may be a short spell in the Premier League for the Boro.

Southampton

The Saints are in limbo. They’re in no danger of getting relegated and despite last season are not a top six side. A league cup final and top half finish is a good season but can they realistically get any better? In order to do so they need to spend and stop selling their top assets. Their fixture list is desirable and there could be goals galore before the season’s out at St. Mary’s, especially if Gabbiadini has anything to do with it.

Stoke

In a very similar position to Southampton. Hughes has got them organised and done well to get so far without Butland. Upcoming fixtures are favourable and they should finish in the top half but more quality is needed to better this season’s performance. If Sparky can get Berahino firing next year they could be in a similar position to West Brom.

Sunderland

Seven points adrift and only four home games remaining. I would imagine they are odds-on to go down now, it’s more a case of who will join them. Moyes didnt’t have much of a squad, nor money to spend realistically. It’s probably about time the Black Cats went down after failing to reach the magical 40 point mark in six of the last nine seasons.

Swansea

They’ve had a good five years in the Premier League, finishing as high as 8th. Managerial appointments have been below par since Rodgers and I hope they stay up so Clement can show the world what he is capable of. Thirteen points may be a little too far but come the end of the season they might not even need that many. It’ll be a fight but one I’m now backing them to win.

Tottenham

Believe it or not they’ve finished in the top six in nine of the last eleven seasons. Spurs are officially one of England’s biggest clubs again. They also have one of the best managers and young squads so don’t expect that to change any time soon. They’ll qualify for the Champions League again, it’s just a case of whether they can stay in it a big longer now. New additions need to be better considered than Janssen and Sissoko too.

Watford

Average. They’re about where they were last year, which is impressive with no Ighalo and Deeney misfiring. Most probably safe but must keep concentration to avoid a nervous last couple of games.

West Brom

This season’s standout performers. Pulis has done a great job and deserves a lot of praise. They’re on a bad run right now and it may be a difficult end to the season but regardless they can be proud. A little more quality in the final third and some work to reduce the average age of the squad, and defence in particular, could see them do the same against next year.

West Ham

Back where they’re comfortable, in mid-table obscurity. Last season, and Payet, was too good to be true. Lofty ambitions in their new stadium haven’t quite gone to plan but there’s certainly potential to build and move forwards. Don’t be surprised if Bilic isn’t the man to oversee that though.

 

 

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