The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

Guide to the Final Stretch of the Premier League

In a season full of drama, the 2018-19 Premier League campaign is heading for its final stretch. With only 10 games remaining for most clubs, tension is tight as teams fight for glory, a Champions League spot, or just to stay afloat. Manchester City and Liverpool have separated themselves from the pack in terms of title contention, while Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United all vie for the highly coveted No. 4 position. See which clubs rank in which category heading down the stretch.

Title Contenders: Manchester City and Liverpool

Don’t miss a moment – this has the making for a title race for the ages. With Liverpool dropping six points from three Premier League games, their lead has now dipped to just one point. Although looking unstoppable and clear title favorites for a majority of the season, Liverpool have lacked a certain final third quality lately, something they are normally known for. Star  Mohamed Salah has failed to score against each of the top six Premier League clubs. If they want to finally break the curse and win their first Premier League title, Liverpool must continue in tip-top form.

By the way, that City team first to reach the century mark in a Premier League season, well they’re back in peak form. I’m not saying they went anywhere, but Pep has this Manchester City team back to playing the same breathtaking soccer the world fell in love with last year. After finding themselves alongside Chelsea chasing Liverpool the majority of the season, Pep’s team is now a six goal thrashing and 15 points clear of Sarri’s men. City don’t seem in a losing mode at the right time as they chase three titles to add to their Carabao Cup victory on Sunday.

Top 4 Lock: Tottenham Hotspur

Nine points off the top after a 2-0 derby defeat to Chelsea, this Tottenham is essentially out of the running for the crown. More likely, the Spurs are content in third and attempt a run at the Champions league given their surprising 3-0 first leg victory over German leaders Borussia Dortmund. Another typical year for Mauricio Pochettino’s men…especially if they blow it against Dortmund in the second leg.

Top 4 Contenders: Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal

Oh, the fascinating number four spot in the Premier League. It’s funny because neither Chelsea nor Arsenal nor Manchester United would ever set out for fourth at the beginning of the season, but now it’s all they’re fighting for. Just like the title race, look for the top four race to be a dogfight until the end. Arsenal sit one point clear of United and three clear of Chelsea with just ten games remaining.

Arsenal and Manchester United seem to be looking towards a brighter future after ending tumultuous tenures with their highly polarizing managers. Unai Emery and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have invoked a spark in their respective clubs, which has made top four a possibility.

Chelsea, on the other hand, have never looked in more disarray. Tension spilled over on Sunday as goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the pitch after manager Maurizio Sarri wanted to sub him off for penalties due to an apparent injury. For Chelsea fans, this was simply a culmination of the disrespect Sarri has been shown ever since taking charge of Chelsea this summer.

Relegation Fighters: Brighton & Hove Albion, Cardiff City, Southampton, Fulham, Huddersfield Town

With just three wins all season and countless embarrassing performances, Huddersfield Town simply aren’t ready for Premier League action. Another near lock to fall out of the PL is Fulham with only four wins all season.

The fight to be in the last relegation spot (or not to be) will likely come down to Southampton, Cardiff City, and Brighton.

Cardiff City replaced Southampton in the bottom three this week with a 3-0 defeat to Everton and a Southampton win vs Fulham. A good relegation battle is an underrated part of European soccer culture; it truly is a battle for the livelihood of many individual, including those behind the scenes at each club.

-Shane Simmons

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