With two fixtures left to play in the 2016/17 English Premier League season, Chelsea have already popped the champagne and Tottenham are a lock for the Champions League. The only unsettled drama is the “Race for the Top 4,” and it looks like the EPL’s final two Champions League slots will come down to the final weekend. Not exactly Balotelli to “AGUEROOO!” type drama, but it’s definitely must-see TV. Or is it?
I listen to SiriusXM FC every day. The venom and frustration from Arsenal fans that call in is palpable. “Wenger out” doesn’t even to begin to describe their angst. And who can blame them? Their club has capital in the boardroom and elite talent on the field to win the League. But it’s seems like Arsenal’s American owners are playing FIFA 17 Career Mode, with “Qualify for Europe” as their only objective.Embed from Getty Images
We know that Manchester United will have to settle for winning the Europa League. Despite Mourinho’s cries for help, the EPL’s most global club frankly hasn’t been good enough to win the Premiership.
Let’s quickly break down the candidates for the two final top-four slots:
- Manchester City: Gabriel Jesus is back from injury and City are winning games again. Remaining opponents – West Brom and Watford
- Liverpool: After smashing West Ham 4-0 on Sunday, Klopp’s men have their eyes set on a top of the table finish. Remaining opponents – Middlesbrough
- Arsenal: Alexis and friends are on the rise and will look to keep Wenger’s record of never finishing outside the top four intact. Remaining opponents – Sunderland and Everton.
This past weekend in Serie A, Atalanta qualified for the Europa League following a 26-year absence. After guaranteeing a spot in Europe and a top-five finish ahead of rivals Milan, the scenes on the streets of Bergamo resembled a championship run. Hard to imagine Arsenal and Manchester United fans lighting flares and standing on cars after qualifying for Europe. Maybe that’s the beauty of world football’s toughest league, where one or two mistakes can relegate big clubs to lower their standards.Embed from Getty Images
So, let’s debate: is the Race for the Top 4 more exciting when massive clubs are fighting for third and fourth place? Who’s in and who’s out?
*The final 2016/17 top 4 with direct qualification to The Champions League are: Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester City and Manchester United (Europa League Champions). Liverpool face a play-off to enter pool play.