April has started superbly for Liverpool, but how will the remainder of the month pan out for the five teams battling for three Champions League spots?
Saturday’s 3-1 win over Everton was as professional as it was enjoyable, with the Reds showing a ruthlessness not often on show this season.
The rest of April is relentless, and come the end of the month, that eventual top-four line-up is likely to look a lot easier to predict.
As seen, Liverpool have the least games this month – although that’s partly because the Reds’ final game of April has been moved to May 1st Monday night against Watford.
Head to head battles
Antonio Conte’s side still feature prominently in matches against their rivals in the coming weeks, however, and they could have a major bearing on the final outcome.
Wednesday’s showdown between the Blues and Man City at Stamford Bridge looks a mouthwatering prospect, and for Liverpool’s sake, a home win would be the best result.
City sit a point behind the Reds with a game in hand, so a negative result for them would ensure Klopp’s side remain third in the table.
- Chelsea vs. Man City – April 5th
- Man United vs. Chelsea – April 16th
- Man City vs. Man United – April 27th
- Tottenham vs. Arsenal – April 30th
The title favourites then go to Old Trafford a week on Sunday, with Jose Mourinho desperate for three points against his former club.
United once again failed to beat a weaker side at home at the weekend, with the 0-0 draw with West Brom putting another dent in their top-four bid.
The Manchester derby that takes on April 27th – a Thursday evening, bizarrely – should be a cracker, and again it means guaranteed dropped points for at least one of the Reds’ adversaries.
The Gunners, like United, are looking the most likely to miss out, and by the time they visit White Hart Lane for the last time, they simply must still be in touch.
Potential banana skins
We all know how competitive the Premier League is, so aside from the matches involving the top sides, there are plenty of fixtures that could prove tricky for the battling quintet.
Crystal Palace are enjoying a great resurgence under Sam Allardyce, with Liverpool’s on-loan cult hero Mamadou Sakho winning all four of his games for the club so far.
The Frenchman could well do his permanent club some favours in April, with Palace hosting both Arsenal and Spurs before the month is done.
The Reds also face Palace at Anfield on April 23, but Sakho will be ineligible.
- Man United vs. Everton – April 4th
- Swansea vs. Tottenham – April 5th
- Sunderland vs. Man United – April 9th
- Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal – April 10th
- Southampton vs. Man City – April 15th
- West Brom vs. Liverpool – April 16th
- Middlesbrough vs. Arsenal – April 17th
- Burnley vs. Man United – April 23rd
- Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham – April 26th
- Middlesbrough vs. Man City – April 30th
Similarly, United’s home clash with Everton on Tuesday will not be easy, assuming Joel Robles remembers he is a goalkeeper.
Arsenal‘s fixtures look relatively kind, although the aforementioned showdown with Palace will not be an easy one. Middlesbrough may also be fighting for their lives when the north Londoners come to town.
As for Liverpool, their run-in looks about as nice as it could be. We know all about their struggles against lesser sides, but it still looks an inviting remaining set of games.
Another thing working in Liverpool’s favour is that their only competition to focus on now is the Premier League. The same cannot be said for any of the other four.
United have the Europa League trophy within their sights, but the grind of Thursday-Sunday matches could really test the resolve of Mourinho’s squad.
We saw firsthand last season how that competition can affect your league position, and the hope is that it acts as a real distraction to United.
They may well win it, would which be a real shame, but the longer they are left in, the more chance there is of the Reds staying clear of them in the league.
At least one of the three semi-finalists will have the final to focus on as well as top-four, which is an added bonus, aside from the fact a rival will win a trophy.
Come what May
Making predictions in football is always a dangerous thing, but here’s a stab at how the top-six will look come the end of April.
Chelsea, despite a mini-wobble, will go on to clinch the title, and their current seven-point lead is likely to be similar come the end of the season.
Spurs look primed to finish second, and the way in which they are still winning without key duo Danny Rose and Harry Kane suggests they won’t collapse this time around.
City have the edge on Liverpool when it comes to finishing third, mainly because of the experience they possess at this point in seasons.
They have so many players who know how to grind out wins in the spring months, and although they can be got at defensively, their attacking brilliance will come up trumps more often than not.
Southampton might trouble them, and Mourinho could always bore his way to a 1-0 win at the Etihad, but like Spurs, they look strong enough to secure a top-three finish.
The Reds won’t be far behind, and while many will be terrified at the thought of consistent sloppy results occurring against average sides, they will finish the campaign well.
Arsenal are the absolute masters at finishing the season in imperious form, and it would be very dangerous to write them off prematurely. Granted, their form is poor, but they have the knack of stringing wins together from nowhere.
The Gunners will finally finish outside the top-four, though, despite threatening to make a late surge.
United will be sixth, which would represent an enormous underachievement, considering the money they spent last summer.
With their injuries racking up, it is easy to see Mourinho eventually giving up on the league and putting all his focus on Europe. They should win the Europa League now, and if they don’t, their season will be a huge failure.
Whether this all comes to fruition remains to be seen, but by the time April comes to a close, we will have a much clearer picture of how things are unfolding.