Title tussle, European scrap and relegation dogfight – the Premier League run-in

Title Tussle, European Scrap And Relegation Dogfight – The Premier League Run-In
Mikel Arteta's side lead the way but Manchester City and Liverpool are hot on their heels, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By PA Sport Staff

The Premier League has paused for the final international break of the season and when it resumes at the end of the month it is full tilt towards the finishing line.

Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal are locked in an enthralling title race, while things at the other end are just as fascinating with the prospect of seven clubs still fighting for survival.


Here, we look at the key issues that will be resolved after the international break.

Title race

Traditionally, this is the time of season that Manchester City click into gear and go on a winning spree which ends with them lifting the title. And few would bet against them doing so again as Pep Guardiola’s side have been there and done that and are looking ominously good.

Their next game could have a big bearing on the outcome of the title race as Arsenal, a point ahead of Guardiola’s men, visit the Etihad Stadium. The Gunners sit top on goal difference having won their last eight games, but this is usually when their campaign falters and it will be interesting to see how they have learned from last season’s capitulation.


Liverpool are level on points with the Gunners and will want to give Jurgen Klopp the perfect send-off by lifting the title. They have had a brilliant season and have overcome injuries in recent weeks but their Thursday night schedule in pursuit of Europa League glory could also have an impact. But, whatever happens, there are sure to be plenty of twists and turns in the final 10 games.

European qualification

Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is hoping to deliver Champions League football next season
Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is hoping to deliver Champions League football next season (John Walton/PA)

Aside from those three clubs in the title race there are up to eight clubs who have realistic ambition of qualifying for European football in one of the three competitions.


Aston Villa, Tottenham and Manchester United are eyeing the big prize of the Champions League, which is definitely earned by finishing fourth and possibly also fifth – depending on how English teams fare in the knockout stages of this season’s European competitions. Villa seem to be hanging on to fourth place after a jittery period while Spurs’ inconsistency has seen them fail to take advantage. United have also had the same problem and seem an outside bet to make the top four.

The race for a top-six finish, which would most likely guarantee Europa League football is just as fascinating as West Ham and Brighton are hot on the heels of United. The Hammers, who are also juggling Thursday night commitments, have overcome a sticky period that saw David Moyes defending his record and are looking strong, while Brighton have been hit by injuries but are still in the mix.

Assuming seventh place is rewarded with a Europa Conference League position, which is highly likely, then a number of clubs are in the hunt. Wolves, Newcastle, Chelsea and even Fulham could all eye a late dart up the table.

Beating the drop


Exactly what is going to happen in the relegation fight could depend on the Premier League as Nottingham Forest and Everton could both be docked points for breaching financial rules. How many get deducted and the outcome of any appeal will affect a host of teams and could keep Sheffield United and Burnley interested when ordinarily they would be certainties to go down.

Luton could also benefit as they are still very much in touch even if no points are taken off as they look to complete an impressive first season at this level. Brentford and Crystal Palace will be also keeping a close eye on matters and they could be pulled into danger if they end the season poorly.

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