Despite the lack of fans, Premier League clubs continue to fight tooth and nail as they hope to cement their position in Europe’s top competitions next season. Numerous teams led the league early on and while Manchester City has now pulled away, sides as low as Arsenal in 11th are still hopeful of a European place.
Four teams qualify for the Champions League, three for the Europa League and one side qualifies for the newly formed Europa Conference League. The prize money and reputation boost for qualifying for these competitions make them an attractive choice for potential new signings so it is vital for many clubs that they qualify. We go through all the potential qualifiers and give them a predicted finish.
Battle For Europe Gets Intense
Evaluating The Competition
Manchester United have surprisingly been City’s nearest challengers this year and still have a small chance of catching their noisy neighbours. Even though they rarely lead games at half-time, they almost always find a way to win. Bruno Fernandes is in the running for the player of the year award and Edinson Cavani has brought some much-needed depth and experience to the attack. United’s defence is still a concern and has cost them at times this term but they are five points clear of 5th place Chelsea and almost guaranteed a Champions League place.
Predicted Finish: 2nd
The Foxes were so close to a Champions League place last season but a final day defeat to Manchester United forced them to settle for the Europa League. Jamie Vardy has kept up his form and James Maddison has returned to his best. An impressive victory over Liverpool was a statement of intent and Leicester City could still win the Europa League. Adding trophies would be the final step in Brendan Rodger’s quest to make Leicester one of Europe’s elite. Recent defensive injury issues haven’t derailed them as much as defending champions Liverpool and they should comfortably get top four on current form.
Predicted Finish: 3rd
West Ham United
West Ham has been the surprise package in the Premier League this year. They sit 4th, above four of the ‘big six’. Tomas Soucek has scored eight goals and no defender has more assists than Aaron Cresswell. The Hammers are deservingly battling for Europe and have brushed off many big challenges already this season. Qualifying for the Champions League however is a completely different obstacle and David Moyes’ side may fall just short.
Predicted Finish: 6th
Chelsea looked like title challengers earlier in the season. They had considerably improved their squad and had gained momentum. But then the new signings started to struggle, with Timo Werner going three months without a league goal and subsequently led to the dismissal of club legend Frank Lampard who was sacked with the club in 9th. New boss Thomas Tuchel has got them going in the right direction and if they can win their next three games against Manchester United, Liverpool, and Everton they should be able to sneak into the top 4.
Predicted finish: 4th
Liverpool were top of the tree at Christmas and after a 7-0 win over Crystal Palace looked to be coping well with the injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. More injuries have followed and Liverpool has won just two league games since that win over Palace.
If Liverpool advance in the Champions League getting top four will become even harder due to the lack of depth caused by the injuries. Diogo Jota‘s imminent return may help kick the attack into gear but an injury to Jordan Henderson means the Reds will fail to qualify.
Predicted Finish: 7th
Everton may not have been in Europe for some time but they possess a squad full of European pedigree. James Rodriguez and manager Carlo Ancelotti have both won the Champions League on multiple occasions. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is having the best season of his career with 13 goals. The experience and quality this Everton side has should see them finish above Liverpool for the first time since 2012/13 but they will have to settle for Europa League qualification.
Predicted finish: 5th
Aston Villa has been a mystery this season. They go through spells where they look like one of the better sides in the league and others where they look like the relegation-threatened Villa of last season that stayed up by a point. Results like the 7-2 win over Liverpool have almost been overshadowed by a 3-0 loss to Leeds United and 2-1 loss to Brighton & Hove Albion. Villa also has a very tough run-in, they face all of last season’s top four in their last eight games. This may lead to Villa just missing out on any European football at all.
Predicted finish: 9th
Tottenham Hotspur was part of a 16th December tie against Liverpool which was promoted as a title decider. Liverpool are now 6th and Spurs have fallen even further to 9th. Jose Mourinho’s men still have the Carabao Cup final to come and winning that and the Europa League is the only way they can have a successful season now. The quality in the squad should see them qualify for the first Europa Conference League although if trophies don’t come with it, Harry Kane may look to depart and Jose Mourinho could be sacked.
Predicted finish: 8th
Marcelo Bielsa’s style of football has received praise from all over the country but results haven’t always backed the praise up. Big defeats to Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Spurs have shown Leeds’ vulnerability but big wins over West Bromwich Albion, Newcastle United and Aston Villa have shown how deadly they can be. The next step will be to add consistency to a team that is the most exciting the Premier League has to offer. A mid-table finish is a solid return to the league that Leeds must build on.
Predicted finish: 11th
Arenal was the first team from the ‘big six’ to drop out of it and they’ve continued their fall this season. A win in the cups looks unlikely and Arsenal isn’t going anywhere in the league so will face a season without European football next season. With promising talents like Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe, a year focusing on the league might do Arsenal good however this season has to be classed as a failure.
Predicted finish: 10th
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