Fight for top 4 Premiership places, not title, is the big race

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-9 23:23:02

There is an exciting chase in the Premiership now but it is not for the title.

Chelsea have a vice-like grip on first place and do not seem likely to relinquish it, even with a tough Manchester City in pursuit.

Right below them is a vicious dogfight. Just one point separates the third- and fourth-placed teams, and three other teams are within touching distance. Such a scenario would be common in the early ­stages or even midway of the season, but it is ­almost unheard of with just 10 weeks to go.

Arsenal currently occupy third, with Manchester United one place and one point behind. Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton are right behind in the next three spots.

Usually in past seasons, the race for fourth place would see Arsenal fighting tooth and nail with one other team, often Spurs, and eventually just nipping ahead in the final weeks to get the coveted last Champions League spot. This season has seen an end to that, with five teams still fighting doggedly for third and fourth.

The slight favorite has to be Arsenal, which have a strong squad that is significantly much healthier than it has been for most of the season and are accustomed to this late-season chase.

Another favorite is Liverpool, who for much of the season had languished below sixth, but have been in great form ­recently. They are unbeaten in the league since ­December and seem to be peaking well.

Spurs also have had a good run, largely because of their talismanic striker Harry Kane who already has 26 goals in all competitions this season. Kane, just 21 years old, was frightfully good in helping Spurs tear apart Chelsea and Arsenal and even scored a brace on the weekend against QPR.

Manchester United have actually been in relatively poor form since December, but yet have managed to scrape through ­narrow wins and salvage draws at the last minute, continuing a tradition in which United always prevailed even if they were not playing at their best.

Southampton is an underdog favorite, because of their status as a small club and lost five of their best players last summer. But they been struggling and seem to be tiring. They may not have the endurance to cope with the final grind of the season.

These five sides all have a few games against each other to come, so we can look forward to more high-stakes action.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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