4th PLACE?

We can all agree that City have the title wrapped up bar a highly unlikely total implosion.  So who will fill the other 3 CL positions?  Even though Arsenal are 8 points behind 4th place at the moment I'm including them.  They generally finish the season strongly.  All 5 of the candidates have shown signs of weakness recently so it's very debatable which 3 will join City in the CL  next season.  Her's my assessment for what it is worth:

MAN UNITED - They have spent a lot of money recently and have brought in a class player in Sanchez though judging by his performance against Spurs he may take time to settle and United may take time to get the best out of him.  However it is their back 4 that is their weak link.  The reason they do not concede many is that they are usually well protected by Matic or Herrera in midfield and time after time they get out of jail thanks to the brilliance of DeGea.  Despite a dismal performance against Spurs I think they will make top 4 but an injury to DeGea would really hit them.

SPURS - To me they are the best all round team apart from City.  They have a decent keeper, a solid defence, a workmanlke midfield with Eriksen and Ali to give a bit of flair and of course Harry Kane to score their goals.  An injury to Kane would deal a major blow to them but he generally stays pretty fit.  With a fit Kane they should make the top 4.

ARSENAL - I think this Club is in a bit of trouble.  They have been too loyal to Wenger and although capable of outstanding performances they can also be pretty incipid.  They have brought in Hendrik (can't spell his second name!) from United and Ambamayang from Dortmund but have lost their main man Sanchez plus Walcot and Giroud.  Ambamayang may come good but overall I suspect the loss of Sanchez will outweigh any gains.  Where they needed to strengthen was their defence which is poor but they haven't done so.  8 points is a lot to make up and it will be hard for them to catch two of their rivals which they must do to get top 4.

CHELSEA - After last season I thought they were certainties for top 4 and with Morata slipping easily into Costa's role early season it seemed they were possibly well set to challenge City.  However, Morata has lost form and they now rely almost totally on Hazard to get them through matches.  An injury to him would be  a real blow to their chances.  I think teams have worked out their 3-5-1-1 formation and they don't look as solid at the back as last season.  They do however have an excellent keeper even if he did let one through his legs against Bournemouth.  With the likelihood that Conte will be off in the summer there is a danger of the team drifting through the second half of the season though they still have some excellent players and I wouldn't expect many repeats of their Bournemouth disaster.

LIVERPOOL - We all know Liverpool's good and bad areas.  Brilliant at times going forward even without Coutinho but not the best at breaking down park the bus teams.  A hard working midfield but one that lacks creativity without Coutinho and also one that often fails to give adequate protection to the back 4.  A back 4 that tends to panic when things go wrong.  A lack of a top class goalkeeper.  Van Dijl should improve the back 4 but it could take him time to integrate while Karius must improve on what we have seen of him so far. 

If I was to look objectively at the 5 clubs above I would have to say that Liverpool and Arsenal will miss out but a lot depends on injuries.  If Liverpool can keep the front 3 fit and Salah and Firmino keep scoring then there is no reason why we should not have Chamion's League football next season.

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  • Our squad was looking good with depth and quality at the start of the season.  Long term injuries to Lallana and Clyne didn't seem to affect us.  Now, one injury to firmino and Salah and we're in trouble.  We have alot of injuries and it's not looking good at the moment.  At the start of January, we were in top form in the league and had FA Cup and CL to look forward to.  It's a lack of ambition by the club to choose not to strengthen the team. I know the CL is not really a possibility but imagine a situation where we strengthened the team, Lallana and Hendo back from injury, the situation in the league was good as we were in the race for second, a winnable tie against Porto in the CL and the FA cup to compete in.  That's what we've given up in my opinion.  A good chance for FA cup, CL run and second place. With Keita coming in the summer, what a bounce we would have had going into next season.  Now we're in a fight for top4 with a weaker squad while our rivals around us have all stregthened. Diabolical decision from the club in my opinion.

  • I think it'll be nip and tuck all the way to the end so taking points off our rivals will be essential. This weekend's game against Spurs has become very important now and it'll act as a marker for how good our post-transfer window squad really is. On paper, Liverpool and Arsenal look the weaker squads but that doesn't always mean they can't compete, afterall we did beat City. What worries me most is that we have very little leeway within the squad for injuries and Klopp's playing style and the Premier League are known for being attritional. If we can stay fit and the likes of Karius, Ings and Solanke step up to the plate we've got as good a chance as any of finishing in the top four, the problem is the other top six teams have brought in players that don't really have to step up a level to compete, they already can.

    • Agreed. We need to beat Spurs and keep a winning run going till end of the season.  We've played most of the big boys with just Spurs, Utd and Chelsea left it's going to be a case of us being able to break down teams consistently between now and end of the season which has been our achilles heal tbh.  VvD stregthens our defense so if we can keep them out then that'll be the key in getting points ticked over by drawing or holding onto 1-0 leads.  Klopp just needs to take a more pragmatic approach to tactics till end of the season so that we rely on our industry rather than quality. He needs to make changes earlier in games so that less risk of injury to key players and bench players have a chance of minutes and build rhythm.

  • I can't help thinking Arsenal have made a bit of a mistake selling Giroud to Chelsea. Arsenal have brought in an overseas player in Aubameyang who now has a relatively short period of time to adjust to the Premier League whereas Chelsea now have a proven goal scorer who doesn't have to relocate and is used to Premier League football. Suarez, for example, took quite a while to adjust when he came in January so signing a decent player doesn't always mean instant benefits. With those teams between second and sixth being so close little things like the time it takes for new players to settle could make all the difference.

    • Have to disagree, i think arsenal have got themselfs a couple of cracking players in mykitarian and aubameyang. We know what their capable of from the dortmund day's, mykitarian never got a chance at united but he will at the gunners and i'm sure he'll shine. Aubameyang has just scored on his debut and i'm sure thats a sign of things to come from him, great buisiness from the gunners in january and i can see them going on a winning streak now.

    • To be fair, I wrote my comment before Aubameyang had played his first game for Arsenal and my point was that you just don't know how quickly a new player will settle so selling a proven goal scorer can be risky. Fortunately for Arsenal it looks like he has slid into the team pretty seamlessly but that doesn't always happen, just ask Andy Carroll.

    • Even without aubameyang scoring yesterday i felt arsenal got a cracking player, a goal machine, whether he can do it in the prem lge remains to be seen of course but he's not off to a bad start. Andy Carroll was a big panic buy at the time and i for one couldn't believe we paid 35 million for him, i know hindsight is a wonderful thing but i just knew he was going to be a flop. I remember reading a discription of him by someone on the old official LFC site who said he " runs like a donkey and turns like a ship " Still makes me laugh to this day. 

  • Like every season, it's a battle to finish in that top 4, we look good right now but today's game against spurs is vital, as they all are really. A couple of injuries to our main players and we're screwed such is the quailty of our back up. We skip on the injury front and i'm confident we can make the top 4 but we seriously have to cut out performances like against swansea and westbrom recently, anymore of that and we have no chance.

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