Who will finish top 4? Not Chelsea

The 2019-20 Premier League title is as good as Liverpool’s. Jurgen Klopp’s side have a 13 point lead and a game in hand on Leicester City in second place, and we’re only at the halfway stage.

Leicester never looked like genuine contenders and that has shown over the past week or so, falling 3-1 at Manchester City and then humiliated at home by Liverpool on Boxing Day – hammered 4-0 in front of their own fans.

Manchester City’s title defence has been futile to say the least – some 16 points behind the proverbial champions, and having played a game extra. Even if they were to win their remaining 18 fixtures they wouldn’t get close to last season’s 98 point tally.

However, Leicester and City look more than capable of finishing in the top four this season. City in third have a 10 point lead over Manchester United down in fifth. The Red Devils themselves are four points behind Chelsea, who currently hold onto that final Champions League spot.

Whomever of last season’s top six miss out on Champions League football next season will only have themselves to blame. Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and United have all been so inconsistent this season when fourth place is wide open. The Blues sit in fourth place on 35 points after 20 games. After the same number of games last season they were also in fourth, but on 43 points, to give you an idea of the decline of the chasers this season.

Frank Lampard has received a lot of praise from the media this season – such as playing a number of academy products, even though he had little other choice given the club’s transfer embargo. He was also heavily praised by the British media for their 4-4 draw at home to Ajax in the Champions League, as the journalists conveniently ignored the fact the Dutch champions played the final half hour with nine men.

Yes, Chelsea have been impressive in their recent away wins at rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, but defeats at home to Bournemouth and Southampton show the bigger picture. It’s five defeats in their last eight Premier League outings, but Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal’s lack of consistency has gifted Chelsea the spot they currently hold.

The Blues have Champions League football again in February. Perhaps only two games, but it potentially springs dropped points either side of their two legs against Bayern Munich. Another opportunity for the aforementioned sides to gain further ground; though Spurs are in the latter stages of the competition themselves.

Who will finish in the top four? It’s a coin toss between a few teams but I certainly don’t expect Frank Lampard’s side to be there come May…

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