It’s shaping up to be a Premier League finale of epic proportions, with six clubs locked firmly in battle for a place in the Champions League.
Following a significant matchday in terms of shaping the top-four race, Manchester United overcame Tottenham Hotspur to all-but secure their spot alongside champions-elect Manchester City, who did suffer a rare defeat to plucky ten-man Leeds United on Saturday lunchtime.
Chelsea, meanwhile, bounced back from a five-star shock against West Brom to gun down Crystal Palace.
Here, we take a look at Chelsea’s remaining Premier League fixtures and how they compare to Leicester, West Ham, reigning champions Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton – with the Toffees playing one of their two games in hand on Monday night.
April 20: Brighton (H)
April 24: West Ham (A)
May 1: Fulham (H)
May 8: Man City (A)
May 12: Arsenal (H)
May 15: Leicester (H)
May 23: Aston Villa (A)
Consistently in and around the top-four positions throughout this season, the Foxes did fall away at a similar stage 12 months ago – and that will serve as inspiration to the other contenders.
Despite losing out to the Hammers this afternoon, Brendan Rodgers and his side do have some favourable contests to come, before an undeniably tough triple-header finale against United, the Blues and Tottenham.
April 22: West Brom (H)
April 26: Crystal Palace (H)
May 1: Southampton (A)
May 8: Newcastle (H)
May 11: Man United (A)
May 15: Chelsea (A)
May 23: Tottenham (H)
As much as Chelsea fans don’t want to hear it, you can’t deny how impressive the Hammers have been this season, inspired of late by recently-recalled England forward Lingard.
His tally of eight goals in nine games since joining on loan from United has been fundamental – and West Ham only have two top-half tests left to come…
West Ham fixtures
April 17: Newcastle (A)
April 24: Chelsea (H)
May 1: Burnley (A)
May 8: Everton (H)
May 11: Brighton (A)
May 15: West Brom (A)
May 23: Southampton (H)
A torrid run of form after Christmas saw them relinquish their one-season hold on the Premier League title – but it seems to be business as usual for Jurgen Klopp’s side over the last couple of weeks.
Liverpool won’t be relishing a trip to Leeds next up, especially after what they did to City, but five of their other six fixtures are against teams in the lower reaches of the table.
April 19: Leeds (A)
April 24: Newcastle (H)
May 1: Man United (A)
May 8: Southampton (H)
May 11: West Brom (A)
May 15: Burnley (A)
May 23: Crystal Palace (H)
Spurs are now six points behind West Ham following this afternoon’s defeat against United, who themselves are a healthy nine clear of Chelsea in fifth-place – and with just seven matches remaining.
You would think that one more defeat would spell the end of their top-four charge, although Tottenham do have a Carabao Cup final to look forward to this month…
April 16: Everton (A)
April 21: Southampton (H)
May 1: Sheffield United (H)
May 8: Leeds (A)
May 12: Wolves (H)
May 15: Aston Villa (H)
May 23: Leicester (A)
The summer transfer window is just around the corner.
And the rumour mill is already starting to pick up speed.
New Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel will surely be looking to strengthen the squad he was given when he took over from Frank Lampard and there have already been a number of top players linked with a move, including Erling Haaland.
The striker is thought to be the Blues’ number on transfer priority.
But who would you sign? Get involved in our transfer window debate here.
Don’t count them out just yet. Everton may be sitting in eighth-place as things stand, but they do have two games in hand on the other five clubs locked in battle.
One of those comes against lowly Brighton tomorrow night. Victory in both, meanwhile, would put the Toffees into sixth-place – only two points shy of surprise package West Ham.
April 12: Brighton (A)
April 16: Tottenham (H)
April 23: Arsenal (A)
May 1: Aston Villa (H)
May 8: West Ham (A)
May 11: Sheffield United (H)
May 15: Wolves (H)
May 23: Man City (A)
TBC: Aston Villa (A)
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The verdict: There is no doubt that Chelsea have as difficult a final stretch as any of the other sides that remain in the mix for Champions League football ahead of next season. However, they can take encouragement from how they have performed since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel in January – one shock result against second-bottom West Brom aside. West Ham and reigning champions Liverpool, perhaps, have the most favourable run-in on paper.
In a season that continues to provide unpredictable results behind closed doors, in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it would take a brave decision to pick those final top-four places with any conviction. Despite having to face the likes of West Ham, Leicester and champions elect City, those games do, in one sense, mean qualification is very much in Chelsea’s hands.