Premier League top four – run-in looks tough for Spurs and Everton
The insidious dissatisfaction of the Benitez-obsessed Chelsea massive and Tottenham’s first hints of their traditional desire to ensure Arsenal finish above them have conspired to make the Premier League top four market look far from a finished picture.
The Gunners and Everton – unfettered by the demands of cup competitions – are lurking in the Europa League places with games in hand that, if won, would have them one and three points behind Tottenham in fourth respectively.
Both Chelsea and Spurs have resource-draining two-legged outings in the Europa League still to come, whilst Chelsea also have at least one FA Cup match left to draw their eyes away from Champions League qualification.
In the seven domestic games since their 3-2 loss to Newcastle, the only sides to avoid defeat against Chelsea are the two who currently sit above them at the top of England’s football pyramid. Clashes against Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton await, but the Blues can take solace from the fact that they’ve beaten two of those rivals in front of their own fans already this term.
Tottenham’s loss to Fulham was the performance of a tired team and with a smaller squad than their South London foes it’s the Lilywhites whose league form will suffer more for the demands of their European campaign.
Do-or-die meetings with Everton, Chelsea and Man City entwine themselves around Spurs’ quarter final dates with Basel like vipers and it could be that their final four games against likely one-foot-on-the-beach merchants Stoke, Sunderland and Southampton come too late to repair the damage to their top four aspirations.
Everton’s chances of overhauling AVB’s charges have been dealt a crippling blow by a run-in that’s strewn with away games against key rivals Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea.
The Toffees have gleaned just two top flight away wins since October and although the majority of those road trips ended honours-even, Moyesian pragmatism won’t provide the shedloads of points necessary to join the division’s highest echelon.
Unlike Everton, Arsenal have been handed an ideal last nine fixtures with which to nourish their Champions League dreams. Reading and Norwich are to visit The Emirates proffering gifts of three points, whilst West Brom, Fulham, QPR are all eminently beatable hosts.