Tottenham lead UCL race but the verdict is far from clear


Newcastle United suffered a double blow at the weekend. Within the area of some hours on Sunday, Eddie Howe’s workforce had been crushed in the membership’s first main closing since 1999 and in addition noticed Tottenham open up a four-point hole in the race to assert the fourth and closing Champions League spot.

The excellent news for Newcastle is that they’ve performed two video games fewer than Spurs, so the four-point deficit might turn out to be a two-point lead in the event that they win their two excellent fixtures. But Newcastle are simply one among six groups now enjoying the numbers sport in the pursuit of Champions League qualification, and none of them can declare to be in the kind to make them favourites to complete fourth.

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If leaders Arsenal, second-place Manchester City and third-place Manchester United, who’ve an eight-point cushion between themselves and fifth-place Newcastle, are heading in the right direction for a Champions League spot, the congested scramble to take the fourth spot stretches down as far as Brentford in ninth, with Tenth-placed Chelsea now nearer to the backside three than the high 4 following their 2-0 defeat at Spurs on Sunday.

Brentford in the Champions League? Why not? Thomas Frank’s workforce, who’ve crushed United, City and Liverpool this season, are 10 factors behind Spurs, but they’ve two video games in hand.

While they’re clearly outsiders to climb into the high 4, Brentford are unbeaten in the Premier League since October, successful 5 and drawing six, so they’re accumulating factors whereas their rivals are dropping video games.

To have any critical hope of ending fourth, they might want to flip attracts into wins, but Brentford’s subsequent 5 fixtures sees them face top-four rivals Fulham and Brighton, in addition to struggling Everton, Southampton and Leicester, so it is a run of video games that can make or break their prospects.

Brighton are forward of Brentford on objective distinction and have three video games in hand on Spurs, so Roberto De Zerbi’s workforce are actually in the combine if they’ll win a minimum of two of these video games. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat in opposition to Fulham was their first loss in 2023, and a pricey one with Fulham consolidating sixth place by advantage of their win. But having crushed United, Chelsea and Liverpool this season, Brighton are a harmful workforce able to sustaining their push for fourth.

Liverpool, in seventh, are the most unpredictable workforce in the chasing pack. Jurgen Klopp’s aspect have the attacking choices to surge into the high 4, but their defensive shortcomings and lack of consistency in midfield threaten to scupper their hopes. After beating Newcastle at St James’ Park 9 days in the past, Liverpool appeared favourites to complete fourth, but they merely can’t construct any momentum. They have gained simply three of their previous 11 video games in all competitions and at the moment are 9 factors behind Spurs, albeit with two video games in hand.

Liverpool’s residence sport in opposition to Spurs on April 30 might be decisive, but provided that Klopp’s aspect discover some kind in the weeks forward — a troublesome ask contemplating their subsequent six league video games consists of fixtures in opposition to United, City and Arsenal.

But for back-to-back defeats in opposition to Newcastle and Spurs in January, Fulham can be in a a lot stronger place to assert a shock top-four end following promotion from the EFL Championship final season. Having performed 25 video games, greater than all their rivals bar Spurs, Fulham might be reeled in by the pack, but the flip-side is that they’ve factors in the bag and are simply six factors behind Tottenham.

Coach Marco Silva’s success in revitalising gamers with a degree to show in the Premier League, together with Andreas Pereira, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian, has been key to Fulham’s spectacular season to this point. But with Brentford, Arsenal and Liverpool subsequent up in the league, their prospects will quickly turn out to be clearer.

In phrases of factors already attained and video games in hand, Newcastle are arguably in the strongest place. But when you think about their current kind, it now appears a tall order to Howe’s aspect to benefit from their excellent fixtures. They have gained simply as soon as of their previous seven Premier League video games, scoring three objectives throughout that run, and their momentum is heading in the unsuitable path.

Miguel Almiron, Newcastle’s high scorer with 10 league objectives, has netted twice since the World Cup, making the workforce’s issues apparent. If they fail to bounce again from their loss in the Carabao Cup closing in opposition to United, Newcastle might even slip out of the Europa League locations.

So Spurs, with 4 wins of their final 5 Premier League video games, are the workforce to beat in the race for fourth.

A 3-game streak in April, which sees them journey to Newcastle and Liverpool on both aspect of enjoying United at residence, offers Spurs the alternative to complete off their largest rivals and guarantee a snug finish to the season.

Spurs have proven their inconsistencies this season, so they’re hardly a protected wager. It is a six-team battle — some will fall by the wayside in the weeks forward, but if any of the six can discover kind and consistency, they are going to qualify for the Champions League.


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