Premier League 2019/2020: Champions League and Championship places to be decided

Sunday marks the last day of the Premier League for the 2019/2020 season. Like with the Championship on Wednesday, there is still a lot we need to sort out. There are places in the Champions League to allocate, and, at the other end, the relegation battle is still not sorted after a very tight and well-fought contest which will go to the final day.

In this article, I will give my thoughts and predictions for who will get the final two places in the top 4, out of Leicester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, and who will be the one team to survive the drop to the Championship, out of Aston Villa, Watford and Bournemouth.

The Fixtures

Premier League 2019-2020 FIXTURES
Credit: BBC Sport.

Like with the Championship article posted on here earlier this week, the key for this image is the same. A GREEN STAR means that the game includes a team fighting for the Champions League, whereas a RED STAR means that game includes a team fighting to stay in the division for next season.

The highlight of the five fixtures we will look at has to be Leicester City against Manchester United, in what looks like a potential one match shoot-out for one of the two places available.

The Champions League

Premier League 2019-2020 TOP
Credit: BBC Sport.

So who do I think will take the final two places in the top 4? Well, firstly, let’s look at Leicester and Manchester United.

The Foxes are in very inconsistent form, having lost badly against Bournemouth a few weeks ago, and lost away to Tottenham Hotspur in their last match. However, they have a habit of turning up in these big matches, and they know what a fight feels like, having survived relegation miraculously back in the 2014/2015 season. I think we will see the same fighting spirit in this game, especially given that they need a win to ensure a place in next season’s Champions League tournament.

Manchester United have been in amazing form, and are unbeaten in over 10 games now. They will not be easy for Leicester, and will certainly look to make things difficult for the Foxes when they meet on Sunday. However, we have also see the worst of them this season and recently, such as in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday, when they didn’t play well against a strong Chelsea side. They only managed to get a draw against West Ham earlier this week, and so they will obviously want to come out fighting at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, and will want to go out with a win and seal a return to the Champions League.

The one thing that could stop them doing this is goalkeeper David de Gea, who has been under fire this season for some poor performances and basic mistakes, which have not helped United’s cause. This is one way that Leicester can get the win – attacking well, and getting plenty of shots at the United goal. In his current form, it’s unlikely that the Red Devils will not concede against the Foxes.

Chelsea are in the worst position to qualify, not because of results, but because of goal difference. You can see in the image above how they only have a difference of +13, compared to Manchester United’s and Leicester’s, which is +28. The reason for this is their defending, which has been their biggest problem this season, and what could count against them.

They play Wolves on Sunday; a team who love to attack and counter-attack, and have some incredibly quick players in their team. Their wing-back formation also lends itself to the sort of play that Chelsea will find difficult to play against. Will this be Chelsea’s downfall? We will have to wait and see on that one. However, they do only need a point to qualify for the Champions League, so it’s not a big ask in that sense, but that goal difference will be a worry for Frank Lampard.

Who will take the final two places then? It’s a difficult prediction to make, but I think ultimately it has to come down to form, and that means Chelsea and Manchester United. However, I don’t expect Leicester to go out without a fight, as I mentioned above, but I do feel that, sadly, they will fall just short, and some of their recent results will end up counting against them when Sunday is over.

The Championship

Premier League 2019-2020 BOTTOM
Credit: BBC Sport.

Now, we turn our attention to the battle to beat the drop to the Championship. Three teams are fighting it out for one place in the Premier League next season, and all have issues that they need to be aware of.

Let’s begin with Aston Villa. As you can see from the table, they are unbeaten in their last 3 matches, which means that, compared to everyone else around them, they are a team in form at the moment. Boyhood Villains fan Dean Smith has done a good job with them since he was appointed, getting them promoted through the playoffs last summer, and, even though they have only won 9 games this season, it looks likely that they will be the team to stay up. They play at home to West Ham, who secured their survival mathematically with the point they gained against Manchester United earlier this week. Villa’s problem has been consistency, but I think they will get a least a point from this game. Whether that is enough, we will have to see.

Watford have been in mixed form since Nigel Pearson took over, with a good start initially, following by them losing a few games, but they did always seem to have a chance of staying up under him. Then the board took the very disappointing decision to sack him. Now, I’m not saying that they would have stayed up with him in charge (we’ll never know if they would have or not), but if you are in a relegation battle, then Nigel Pearson is top of the list for who you want in charge, after he saved Leicester City back in 2014/2015. Against Manchester City, they would have struggled, but there was a small chance that they could have got something against Arsenal in their final game with a strong defensive performance, and the likes of Ismaila Sarr getting some shots away and maybe a goal at the other end of the pitch.

Finally, Bournemouth. I fear for them, I really do. I want them to stay up, because I like Eddie Howe and respect him for what he has done with Bournemouth since he took over all those years ago. However, they have been defensively leaky this season (and for a few seasons now), and the goals from the likes of Callum Wilson and Josh King have dried up. They lost striker Lys Mousset last summer to newly-promoted Sheffield United, and he was starting to show why they had signed him before he left. This left them without a chunk of their goals last season, and that has been a problem I think. Losing Dutch centre back Nathan Ake to injury in the win against Leicester was also a big blow to their hopes of staying up, because he is arguably their best defender, and is likely to move on in the summer to another Premier League club even if they do stay up.

So who do I think will beat the drop? I feel that it will remain as it is, in that Aston Villa will survive and Bournemouth and Watford will go down. I have stated the reasons why I think this above, but if we look at the fixtures again, Aston Villa face an unpredictable West Ham United away from home, which will be difficult, but I think they can win it. That means that Bournemouth and Watford will be relegated, with the Cherries going to Everton, and Watford travelling to the Emirates. Neither of those games will be easy, and I can’t see either team getting anything unless the Toffees and Gunners fail to turn up to those games and play poorly, which could happen, and has happened at times this season.

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