Battle for Top Four Hots Up

first_imgWith Chelsea’s defeat of Manchester City mid-week, the coast is almost clear for the Blues as far as the Premier League title is concerned; the question now is which other three teams would join Chelsea in booking a place for next season’s UEFA Champions League in England. Tottenham Hotspurs, Liverpool and City are in hot contention, while Arsenal and Manchester United stand slimmer chancesChelsea are on their way to becoming Premier League champions once again, but they face a tricky visit to Bournemouth today. The Blues are seven points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, but the Cherries are a difficult prospect when playing on the south coast.Coach Eddie Howe has his team close to safety, residing seven points above the relegation zone, but they need to grab a few more positive results to make absolutely sure of their status next term.Chelsea could make changes for their trip away from the capital after defeating Manchester City at Stamford Bridge. reported Victor Moses could return to manager Antonio Conte’s selection, as the Italian declared that six wins will wrap up the title for his side.Chelsea’s star players have responded to the Italian’s methodology and tactics, and the Premier League might see the rare occurrence of the champions of England playing a regular 3-4-3 system.Bournemouth continue to operate above their expected station, and they have once again proved they are a credible match for any side under their youthful management at the Vitality Stadium.Stoke City play host to Liverpool at the Bet365 Stadium this afternoon looking to reclaim a place in the top half of the Premier League table after four matches without success.As for Liverpool, they will see this fixture as an opportunity to return to winning ways after they could only draw with Bournemouth in midweek.When Stoke battled their way to a goalless draw with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, there was every expectancy – both inside and outside of the club – that they would kick on and solidify their place in the top 10 of the standings.However, while they could count themselves unfortunate to slip to a 2-1 defeat at home to leaders Chelsea, they have not shown enough in away fixtures at both Leicester City and Burnley and Mark Hughes has a job on his hands to rally his players ahead of the visit of the Merseyside giants.Much has been made of Liverpool not having to play any of the league’s top seven sides for the rest of the season, but it is in games against the so-called lesser sides where problems have been encountered and Klopp needs his players to demonstrate that they can raise their performance against opposition in the bottom half of the table.Meanwhile, Tottenham striker Harry Kane could start against Watford today after recovering faster than expected from an ankle injury, said manager Mauricio Pochettino, who may though have to deploy his third-choice goalkeeper. The return of Kane, who has missed Spurs’ last three matches, will buoy their distant hopes of making up the seven-point gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea in the title run-in. “Harry’s had a few sessions before and today he was involved with the team. And we’ll see tomorrow whether he will start the game or be on the bench. But it’s good news that he’s ready. He feels good for his recovery. It’s very good news for him and for us. He’s an important player for us and for him to be available for us is great,” Pochettino said Friday, the eve of the clash at White Hart Lane. Kane has hit 19 league goals this season as Spurs emerged as the main challengers to Chelsea. Earlier this week Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said while there was an “expectation” at his club they would be title-contenders, it would “not be a disaster” for Tottenham if they yet again missed out on lifting the Premier League trophy. “I can understand, it’s true that when you are seven points above the second team in the table, it is normal for them to win the league,” Pochettino said. “Now it’s up to them to win the league. “We are in a position that we need to do our job, winning games and put pressure on. But it’s true that after eight games (left) if they don’t win the Premier League, it will be tough for them to accept.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img

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