Manchester United’s goalless draw against Chelsea on Sunday could well have ended any doubt over the identity of the Premier League champions this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are now no longer outside bets for the title. Instead they are simply leading the race for a top-four place.
United have 50 points from 26 games, a point ahead of Leicester in third, while fourth-placed West Ham, Chelsea in fifth and sixth-placed Liverpool all have a one-point buffer between them.
Everton and Tottenham are a little bit further behind, but the Toffees’ games in hand and Spurs’ impressive 4-0 win over Burnley yesterday and Gareth Bale’s eye-catching performance means neither can be ruled out of earning a top-four finish.
The title race may be all-but over, but the race for the Champions League places is just heating up. Here are all the contenders’ next 10 Premier League fixtures compared.
Manchester United fixtures
March 3: Crystal Palace (A), March 7 : Man City (A), March 14: West Ham (H), April 3: Brighton (H), April 10: Tottenham (A), April 17: Burnley (H), April 24: Leeds (A), May 1: Liverpool (H), May 8: Aston Villa (A), May 11: Leicester (H)
United may be in a strong position – and they may be unbeaten in 20 league away games – but their next 10 games will provide plenty of challenges.
Juggling the league fixtures with the Europa League last-16 ties against AC Milan – on March 11 and 18 respectively – and the FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester on March 21 won’t be easy.
Solskjaer’s side would expect to be picking up three points against Palace, Brighton and Burnley, but the Manchester derby, as well as games against West Ham, Spurs, Liverpool and Leicester, could see points dropped.
Leicester City fixtures
March 3: Burnley (A), March 6 : Brighton (A), March 14: Sheffield United (H), April 3: Man City (H), April 10: West Ham (A), April 17: West Brom (H), April 24: Crystal Palace (H), May 1: Southampton (A), May 8: Newcastle (H), May 11: Man United (A)
Leicester are suffering a bit of an injury crisis at the moment, with Harvey Barnes joining James Maddison, Jamie Vardy, Wesley Fofana, Dennis Praet, Ayoze Perez, James Justin and Jonny Evans on the treatment table over the weekend.
Burnley, Brighton and Sheffield United are relatively friendly fixtures next up, and the Foxes no longer have the Europa League to think about following their exit at the hands of Slavia Prague, but their squad will be stretched.
West Ham fixtures
March 8: Leeds (A), March 14 : Man United (A), March 21: Arsenal (H), April 3: Wolves (A), April 10: Leicester (H), April 17: Newcastle (A), April 24: Chelsea (H), May 1: Burnley (A), May 8: Everton (H), May 11: Brighton (A)
West Ham remain one of the form sides in the Premier League, despite their 2-1 defeat by Manchester City on Saturday. Those credentials will be tested in coming weeks, with tough away days against Leeds – and their dreadful pitch – and United.
A glance over their fixtures suggests that the Hammers may struggle to hold onto their current fourth place, but it would be silly to write off David Moyes’ side.
March 4: Liverpool (A), March 8 : Everton (H), March 13: Leeds (A), April 3: West Brom (H), April 10: Crystal Palace (A), April 17: Brighton (H), April 24: West Ham (H), May 1: Fulham (H), May 8: Man City (A), May 12: Arsenal (H)
Chelsea remain unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel, with six wins and three draws in all competitions. Their defence looks solid, as witnessed in the 0-0 draw against United on Sunday, and the Blues will look to continue that against Liverpool and Everton next up.
April looks friendly, with fixtures against West Brom, Palace and Brighton and Chelsea’s deep squad suggests a Champions League run shouldn’t hurt them too much.
March 4: Chelsea (H), March 7 : Fulham (H), March 15: Wolves (A), April 3: Arsenal (A), April 10: Aston Villa (H), April 17: Leeds (A), April 24: Newcastle (H), May 1: Man United (A), May 8: Southampton (H), May 11: West Brom (A)
Liverpool broke their four-game losing streak in the Premier League with a much-needed 2-0 victory against Sheffield United yesterday, but Chelsea’s stern defence looks like a difficult ask next.
As we all well know, Liverpool have suffered a glut of injuries, with Jordan Henderson the latest to join the walking wounded on Merseyside, and new signing Ozan Kabak has not convinced in central defence.
The front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino remain uninjured and if they can keep that up, then they are more than capable of bouncing back to earn a Champions League place.
March 1: Southampton (H), March 4 : West Brom (A), March 8: Chelsea (A), March 13: Burnley (H), April 3: Crystal Palace (H), April 10: Brighton (A), April 17: Tottenham (H), April 24: Arsenal (A), May 1: Aston Villa (H), May 8: West Ham (A)
Everton currently have two games in hand on their rivals. If they win both they would be in fourth place.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side play sinking stone Southampton tonight before an away trip to relegation-threatened West Brom in midweek. If they can win those then it’s game-on for the Toffees. Chelsea and West Ham away look tricky, but there are plenty of matches you could see Everton winning over the next few months.
March 4: Fulham (A), March 7 : Crystal Palace (H), March 14: Arsenal (A), March 21: Aston Villa (A), April 3: Newcastle (A), April 10: Man United (H), April 17: Everton (A), May 1: Sheffield United (H), May 8: Leeds (A), May 12: Wolves (H)
Bale is back and Dele Alli and Toby Alderweireld are back in Jose Mourinho’s good books, so could Spurs mount a serious challenge on the top four?
If they can beat Fulham and Palace over the next week before the north London derby then they could get on a roll. They only play two of the current top eight over the next 10 matches, so Mourinho has no excuses to hide behind.
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Manchester United were denied a penalty in controversial fashion against Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players were furious that Callum Hudson-Odoi wasn’t penalised for a handball, as they had to settle for a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge. The point leaves United 12 points behind leaders Man City, with Crystal Palace the next opponents.
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United appear to have the most difficult fixtures of those scrapping for a top-four finish, but they have only lost one of their last 20 league games and should have enough to hold onto their current position.
Leicester’s injury problems are a worry for Foxes fans and West Ham’s purple patch could well fade as we reach the business end of the season.
Chelsea’s squad depth and defensive solidity under Tuchel and Liverpool’s front three, as well as their current positions, would suggest they are the most likely two to take their places.