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Premier League top four fixtures: Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester

·4-min read
Who will win the Premier League’s race to finish in the top four? (Getty Images)
Who will win the Premier League’s race to finish in the top four? (Getty Images)

The Premier League may not have much of a title race to speak of this season but the battle to finish in the top four and earn a place in next year’s Champions League will go down to the final day.

Leicester City and Chelsea currently occupy third and fourth place but they play each other at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, meaning either Brendan Rodgers or Thomas Tuchel will see their side drop points.

That will open the door for Liverpool, who are well-placed for a late push provided that they keep winning.

The Independent has broken down the run-ins, checking the average home and away points-per-game and average expected goal difference (xGD) of their remaining opponents.

Who has the best run-in and who has the worst?

3. Leicester City

Points: 66

Goal difference: +21

Run-in difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Remaining Opponents

Avg PPG: 1.56; Avg xGD: +15.9

18/05 Chelsea (A)

23/05 Tottenham (H)

Fears of another late season collapse were spreading through the east Midlands after the stunning 4-2 defeat to Newcastle but Leicester have since taken a huge step towards Champions League football.

Caglar Soyuncu’s match-winning header against a much-changed Manchester United breathed new life into the Foxes’ push for a top-four finish, though there is still work to do.

Chelsea will be keen to avenge their FA Cup final defeat at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, then Tottenham visit the King Power. It’s not an easy run-in by any means and Leicester need four points from those two games to be certain of holding onto their spot.

Three may not be enough as Liverpool can still finish on 69 points. If that happens, there is a possibility that Leicester could lose out on goal difference or even goals scored.

4. Chelsea

Points: 64

Goal difference: +22

Run-in difficulty: ⭐⭐1/2

Remaining Opponents

Avg PPG: 1.67; Avg xGD: +5.8

18/05 Leicester (H)

23/05 Aston Villa (A)

Still, you’d rather be in Leicester’s position than Chelsea’s. A tough and hectic end to the season could yet cost Tuchel’s side.

70 points is also the magic figure for Chelsea but they will need to win both of their last two games to reach it. It should not have come down to this.

Winning the Champions League final dress rehearsal away at Manchester City appeared to put them on a clear path towards the top four, only for a surprise defeat against Arsenal to shake things up again.

Now, anything less than maximum points against Leicester will put Liverpool in the driving seat. A final day trip to a flagging Aston Villa is not too intimidating but Chelsea may not be in control of their own destiny by then.

5. Liverpool

Run-in difficulty: ⭐

Remaining Opponents

Avg PPG: 1.09; Avg xGD: -19.5

19/05 Burnley (A)

23/05 Crystal Palace (H)

Strangely, though they are still in fifth and their fate is not technically in their own hands, the fact that Chelsea and Leicester play each other means Liverpool are arguably the most likely of the three to finish in the top four.

Last year’s champions cannot afford a single slip-up, though, which only made Alisson’s extraordinary last-minute winner against West Bromwich Albion even more dramatic.

On paper, Liverpool’s run-in is the easiest and has been for a long time but they have still made hard work of it, dropping points late on against Leeds and Newcastle but their goalkeeper’s heroics at the Hawthorns.

A trip to Turf Moor is not easy at the best of times and this will be Burnley’s first game with fans back. Crystal Palace then visit Anfield on the final day. Could Roy Hodgson deny his former club Champions League football in his final game in charge?

What if Chelsea finish outside the top four but win the Champions League?

In this scenario, Chelsea would join the Premier League’s top four in next season’s Champions League as the Premier League’s fifth representative.

The Premier League can send a maximum of five teams to the Champions League.

The fourth-place finishers would only have missed out on qualification if Chelsea had won the Champions League while finishing outside the top four and Arsenal had also won the Europa League.

Arsenal’s semi-final elimination at the hands of Villarreal means the teams who finish in the top four will all qualify for the Champions League.

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