Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Race For Fourth — 5 games to go

Another week gone, and with five games to go, I reckon we can finally discount one of the contenders — Liverpool. But there is a MASSIVE weekend of games ahead, with Spurs facing London rivals Chelsea, and of course ourselves facing Norwich City at home.

Whilst we've been scoring goals for fun against the likes of Burnley and Blackburn, results have been going our way for the most part. With the exception of Tottenham's win over Arsenal, we seen Spurs drop points at Sunderland, and losing in extra time in the FA Cup to Portsmouth. Liverpool drew yet again, and Chelsea put a dent in Villa's confidence with a 3-0 win in the Cup semi. And for the "bitter" fans among us, the Rags failed to beat Chelsea and Blackburn in consecutive weeks, and were dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich for good measure. So that was pretty good to watch too...

4. Manchester City
Games played: 33
Goal difference: +28 (+9 on just two weeks ago)
Recent form: 4 wins, 1 loss. 12 points from 15 possible.
Position: Similar
Points: 62

Upcoming fixtures:
H Manchester United (2nd)
A Arsenal (3rd)
H Aston Villa (7th)
H Tottenham Hotspur (5th)
A West Ham United (17th)

Another emphatic victory against Birmingham, and Manchester City have won their last three matches by an aggregate of 14-2. They've won four of the last five games, and over this period Chelsea are the only team in better form with four wins and a draw. Hitting their straps at the exact time they need to be.

Predicted points total: 70 (8 more)
Still on track, but the next two fixtures against the Rags and Arsenal will be crucial. Both teams look a bit shaky as well — United have picked up just one point in the last two matches and it took Arsenal 95 minutes to defeat Wolves last week, before losing to Spurs this morning. But even using the very conservative estimate of one point from these fixtures, City are still very much on track. One win out of the next two games makes the task that much easier.

5. Tottenham Hotspur
Games played: 33 (same as City)
Goal difference: +27 (one less than City)
Recent form: 4 wins, 1 loss. 12 points from 15 possible.
Position: Stronger
Points: 61 (one less than City)

Upcoming fixtures:
H Chelsea (1st)
A Manchester United (2nd)
H Bolton (15th)
A Manchester City (4th)
A Burnley (19th)

A good win overnight against Arsenal, one that was not accounted for in the predictions. Two weeks ago however, Spurs had a nine-goal advantage over City — they now sit one goal behind. With the battle expected to go right down to the wire, fourth spot could feasibly come down to goal difference.

Predicted points total: 69 (8 more)
Wins against Bolton and Burnley, and maybe a draw at home to Chelsea and away to City. But that might still not be enough. With Aaron Lennon out for the rest of the season, it might be a bridge too far for Spurs. The penultimate game of the season at Eastlands continues to look more like a Cup final every day.

6. Liverpool
Games played: 34 (one more than City)
Goal difference: +21 (three less than City)
Recent form: 2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss. 8 points from 15 possible.
Position: Gone
Points: 56 (six less than City)

Upcoming fixtures:
H West Ham United (17th)
A Burnley (19th)
H Chelsea (1st)
A Hull City (18th)

Season over for Liverpool. Even if they win all of their remaining fixtures (which looks more and more unlikely at this stage), they will still fall well short of the 70-or-so points required for Champions League qualification. And if they weren't playing relegation-fodder at the end of the season, this could have been very embarrassing for Liverpool.

Predicted points total: 65 (9 more)
Wins against the lowly ranked West Ham, Burnley, or Hull don't even look likely at this stage. Europa league — if they're lucky.

7. Aston Villa
Games played: 33 (same as City)
Goal difference: +12 (12 worse off than City)
Recent form: 1 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss. 6 points from 15 possible.
Position: Weaker
Points: 55 (seven less than City)

Upcoming fixtures:
A Portsmouth (20th)
A Hull City (18th)
H Birmingham City (9th)
A Manchester City (4th)
A Blackburn Rovers (11th)

A draw against Everton was expected — however Villa are running out of games to make a charge. With the exception of City, they don't play too many difficult teams, but they have a brutal schedule in which four of the final games are away from home. And the home game they do have is the Birmingham derby — and you could hardly see that being a push over.

Predicted points total: 65 (10 more)
Wins at Portsmouth, Hull, and Birmingham, with a draw to Blackburn. The season for Villa will most likely be over by the time they travel to Ewood Park for the final match. Again, a crucial game against City looms in the last week.

The Fearless Prediction
Four teams has become three, and if Villa slip up in the next few weeks, it will be down two. Both City and Tottenham play teams in the top three in the next two weeks — City play United and Arsenal, Spurs play Chelsea and United — so any points gained in these fixtures will be at a premium. It's still in Manchester City's hands at this point, but Tottenham are well-placed if City slip up.

1 comment:

  1. Good call Crouchy, lets hope you're right! Hope we don't lose in 'Fergy Time' on Saturday or your mate will be smashing another pile of glasses. Do you know if the Derby is broadcast on 'Free to Air' as I don't have Foxtel?

    SkyBlueSkull, Melb'n


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