Top 4 Race 19/20 | duffer: "We [Chelsea] are getting 3rd. Despite what the lunatics in here think, Man United are not all that."

roonster09

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If we break it down and have the 4 contending teams match results in the common fixtures (not counting the final day where it's Leicester - United and Chelsea - Wolves), here's essentially the difference in fixtures where the results will decide it (United vs the others):

United and Leicester - United game in hand, Leicester 9 points ahead (and GD advantage), common games vs Palace, Bournemouth, Sheffield Utd
United:
  • Brighton (A)
  • Villa (A)
  • Southampton (H)
  • West ham (H)
Leicester:
  • Everton (A)
  • Arsenal (A)
  • Spurs (A)
Can we see United picking up 9 points more in that run compared to Leicester, with 1 game more? 4 wins for United here are a must, couldn't ask for a kinder 4, while Leicester I'd be surprised if they win any of the 3, but on the balance on it you'd guess something like 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss between the 3. That set of results would get us 1 point below them.

United and Chelsea - Chelsea 5 points ahead, common games vs Palace, West Ham, Sheffield Utd
United:
  • Brighton (A)
  • Bournemouth (H)
  • Villa (A)
  • Southampton (H)
Chelsea:
  • City (H)
  • Watford (H)
  • Norwich (H)
  • Liverpool (A)
Again, should be 4 wins for United from this group, without excuses. Chelsea have 2 (should be) easy games, and then play against the 2 best sides in the world (arguably). They would kill for anything out of these, but I'd expect GD to favor United from the remaining games over them, so 1 point would likely not be enough for them.

United and Wolves - United GD advantage, common games are Sheffield Utd, Bournemouth, Villa, Palace
United:
  • Brighton (A)
  • Southampton (H)
  • West Ham (H)
Wolves:
  • Arsenal (H)
  • Everton (H)
  • Burnley (A)
3 (should be) easy wins for United, 2 tough games for Wolves with 1 you would expect an easier win.

Palace and Sheffield United are common for all 4 teams, and I can see Palace causing upsets and being a variable, while I think all 4 will beat Sheffield Utd comfortably. Then on the last day of the season it'll be Leicester - United, Chelsea - Wolves. 2 draws from these and I think it'll be United and Leicester that go through. I think it'll go down to the last game though, with United and Leicester tied on points by the last game, Chelsea 1 point behind them and Wolves another 3 behind Chelsea.
Very good post, I mean the way you separated common fixtures and remaining fixtures is really good. We have decent chance as long as we win today’s game.
 

roseguy64

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Normally if teams finish above my own I’ll give due credit. I think this time based on the 2/3rds played, it would be an absolute travesty if you guys finished above us.

I get we have been inconsistent at times and that’s a mixed of limited forwards and a lack of game management and know how. You guys on the other hand, have been quite dreadful at times and it really felt like a chore to watch. I feel like it’s more down to lack of tactics and employing someone utterly clueless and with a proven track record of failure.

So if that happened, it would be on Chelsea, not an outstanding comeback story. That thought is truly sickening
Solskjaer has a track record of failure? When did he become Moyes or Pardew?
 

Havak

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I didn't realise how much tougher Leicester and Chelsea's games were on paper. However, we do have three relegation battling teams in a row after Sheffield United and now that those teams have had a few games to get into fitness, they will probably be harder than most people expect. Bournemouth and Aston Villa do look to have almost run out of ideas though, so hopefully it stays that way!

Leicester drawing both games so far makes things very interesting. We need to massively improve our goal difference over these games. If we can keep winning by 2+ goals, there's a chance we could even pip Leicester on goal difference on the last day since we play them. If for argument's sake we assume we beat them and Sheffield United, that means we only have to make up a 3-point difference in the six games in-between (if we can match Leicester's goal difference). That'd be a really crazy end.
 

Gandalf Greyhame

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I feel like Wolves are going to sneak by into fourth when no one's looking, their fixture list is very kind and their players seem to be in form.
 

utdalltheway

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I feel like Wolves are going to sneak by into fourth when no one's looking, their fixture list is very kind and their players seem to be in form.
That’s be crazy too.
Whoever gets into the top 4 generally deserves it so if we muck it up then that’s on us.
The Sheff Utd game is no gimme. If they win they’re up over us.
 

Sandikan

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That’s be crazy too.
Whoever gets into the top 4 generally deserves it so if we muck it up then that’s on us.
The Sheff Utd game is no gimme. If they win they’re up over us.
Sheff Utd have been a bit shafted by their fixtures. They look tired, have so little goal threat and have at least two of their key back players out v us.

They have a tough run in too. Definitely looks like Wolves are a huge threat to 5th.
Can't see us catching Leicester and I suspect Chelsea will just squeeze enough for 4th
 

BenitoSTARR

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The only bonus is we do have Europa to play for so we have two opportunities to get CL football one after the other.
 

jackal&hyde

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I feel an important factor will the how many games are played over such a short period, teams like Wolves, Sheff Utd and Leicester will suffer due to the over all quality of the squad and less ability to rotate players. Say what you will about the quality of Fred, McTom, Shaw, Brandon, Dalot, etc but having players fresh and ready will be a big advantage for us imo.
 

BenitoSTARR

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Take it each game at a time, if we mess up today, I'd give us no hope as it shows we simply still don't have the consistency required.
Definitely think we must win today. It will give us a big confidence boost ready for our run in.

We need our creative players on early so Pogba and Bruno together and bury this game in the first 70mins.
 

Redo91

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Tbh all his comparing run ins and where clubs will drop points is all moot, because your own teams you support will also drop points. On paper run ins will be harder and easier, but they never work out that way in reality
Agree they are hard to predict but no idea how you can say they “never” turn out as predicted. More often than not a team with an easier run of games will pick up more points than a team with a harder run of games. It’s just common sense.
 

blue blue

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Agree they are hard to predict but no idea how you can say they “never” turn out as predicted. More often than not a team with an easier run of games will pick up more points than a team with a harder run of games. It’s just common sense.
Most of Utd's fixtures have something riding on them. A lot of those teams are fighting for their lives and it all makes for a very interesting end to the season.
I have faith in Chelsea to just scrape home after a few twists and turns. They have a fit squad with plenty of depth in attack. I think City will still have at least a one season ban from CL so I see both Utd and Chelsea qualifying. Utd must win tonight.
 

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Don’t see the point in looking at fixture lists, we have already seen that with the current circumstances anyone can beat anyone at the moment, and as others have pointed out teams get more desperate and can play better at this stage of the season.
 

Mount's Goatieson

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Most of Utd's fixtures have something riding on them. A lot of those teams are fighting for their lives and it all makes for a very interesting end to the season.
I have faith in Chelsea to just scrape home after a few twists and turns. They have a fit squad with plenty of depth in attack. I think City will still have at least a one season ban from CL so I see both Utd and Chelsea qualifying. Utd must win tonight.
They need to win but I don't think they will. Sheffield utd are a very defensive side and with their injuries and suspensions they will get even more defensive in this game, that's all they have really. United with Bruno and Pogba might be able to break through a few times but they'll have to be extremely clinical and judging by their last game Rashford and Martial have a lot of cobwebs to shake off. If United score first it over though. Sheffield United got nothing in attack.
 

BenitoSTARR

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Don’t see the point in looking at fixture lists, we have already seen that with the current circumstances anyone can beat anyone at the moment, and as others have pointed out teams get more desperate and can play better at this stage of the season.
Maybe because it’s fun to speculate?

It’s also exciting to think how close this is going to be come the last day. It’s entirely plausible that all 4 teams gunning for top 4 would be playing for it on the last day.
 

blue blue

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They need to win but I don't think they will. Sheffield utd are a very defensive side and with their injuries and suspensions they will get even more defensive in this game, that's all they have really. United with Bruno and Pogba might be able to break through a few times but they'll have to be extremely clinical and judging by their last game Rashford and Martial have a lot of cobwebs to shake off. If United score first it over though. Sheffield United got nothing in attack.
I think Ole will have to start with Pogba and he could be the difference. Thats if he wants to be. Its actually a very exciting end to the season. The lockdown has sent us all into a different mindset but now its game back on and there are a lot of matches that have something riding on them. Chelsea can afford to lose a match or two but Utd have to win every game if they are to overtake Chelsea. Its set up for a footballing crescendo.

Strange how this is happening without fans in the stadiums. I think the Theater of Dreams has had an impact on games over the years but the home advantage is less evident now. Will this count against Utd? Sheffield have had a terrible restart and will be looking for a reaction. They will desperately be wanting EL and they will fight tonight.

Chelsea on the other hand have a real tough one tomorrow. Aguero is out but they have enough to break Chelsea's defense at the moment. While we completely dominated Villa our defense looked shaky on the couple of occasions they got through. I think Frank will start with Pulisic instead of RLC and I'm not sure if Jorge's ban is up but I think he will start a very similar line up. I like Kante in the deeper role and this could be key against City. If we can get a point it would be real result.
 

rotherham_red

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I feel like Wolves are going to sneak by into fourth when no one's looking, their fixture list is very kind and their players seem to be in form.
Their squad is relatively small though. Not sure if they'll keep the consistency required to make up the deficit.
 

Berbasbullet

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Maybe because it’s fun to speculate?

It’s also exciting to think how close this is going to be come the last day. It’s entirely plausible that all 4 teams gunning for top 4 would be playing for it on the last day.
Fair enough. That would be class to be fair!
 

cyberman

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They need to win but I don't think they will. Sheffield utd are a very defensive side and with their injuries and suspensions they will get even more defensive in this game, that's all they have really. United with Bruno and Pogba might be able to break through a few times but they'll have to be extremely clinical and judging by their last game Rashford and Martial have a lot of cobwebs to shake off. If United score first it over though. Sheffield United got nothing in attack.
This is their 3rd game in 6 days after playing with 10 men and being out on their feet just a few days ago v fecking Newcastle
This is why this is an abonination. Even if we do struggle to break them down we will bring on 5 pairs of fresh legs and simply outlast a small squad not built for this schdule.
We always seem to have great Christmas periods for this reason.
 

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Latest top 4 finish odds. Chelsea closing in on Leicester:

Leicester: 1.4 (~71%)
Chelsea: 1.49 (~67%)
Man Utd: 2.6 (~38%)
 

Red Foxx

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Today’s game is massive. I think a win will give us the momentum to secure 4th
 

jamesjimmybyrondean

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If we win all our remaining fixtures bar Leicester I can see us being 3rd but I doubt we would win all of those fixtures
 

Shiva87

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Good analysis here.

Definitely think it’s down to the last day.
It really should not. If we do manage to win today, I think we could be within 1-2 points of Chelsea by the end of the week. Chelsea and Leicester play each other on the weekend. We absolutely must win today and over the weekend. It will give us the best chance to overtake both teams. Anything short of 2 wins will make it very very difficult. We will need to claw back 5-6 points with both their fixture lists suddenly looking much easier for them as well.

Critical week for Champions League football next season. ( I'm assuming the City ban will get overturned with the fact that football needs huge capital infusion and suddenly the Deep pockets will be needed again).

Edit: Got that so wrong! The Chelsea v Leicester game is an FA cup tie, and so is our weekend fixture. Going down to the wire then!
 
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Noodle

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It really should not. If we do manage to win today, I think we could be within 1-2 points of Chelsea by the end of the week. Chelsea and Leicester play each other on the weekend. We absolutely must win today and over the weekend. It will give us the best chance to overtake both teams. Anything short of 2 wins will make it very very difficult. We will need to claw back 5-6 points with both their fixture lists suddenly looking much easier for them as well.

Critical week for Champions League football next season. ( I'm assuming the City ban will get overturned with the fact that football needs huge capital infusion and suddenly the Deep pockets will be needed again).
Chelsea don’t play Leicester in the league
 

flappyjay

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It really should not. If we do manage to win today, I think we could be within 1-2 points of Chelsea by the end of the week. Chelsea and Leicester play each other on the weekend. We absolutely must win today and over the weekend. It will give us the best chance to overtake both teams. Anything short of 2 wins will make it very very difficult. We will need to claw back 5-6 points with both their fixture lists suddenly looking much easier for them as well.

Critical week for Champions League football next season. ( I'm assuming the City ban will get overturned with the fact that football needs huge capital infusion and suddenly the Deep pockets will be needed again).
This weekend is the F.A Cup. Leicester and Chelsea have already played each other twice in the league. The sentiment still stands we win our fixtures we could overtake both Chelsea and Leicester who on paper have tougher fixtures ahead.
 

WeePat

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I'm sure we'll see lots of "it's over, no top 4 for us" posts tonight if United fail to beat Sheffield Utd, but I really don't think it's a must win against what I'd consider a very good team this season, albeit they haven't come out of the restart very well. They've managed to bounce back from a poor game or two all season. There's a reason they're up there with a shout of securing CL football. I think United wins this game comfortably, but it wouldn't be a disaster if they don't. You have far, far easier opponents than Sheffield Utd coming up.
 

Dancfc

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Chelsea on the other hand have a real tough one tomorrow. Aguero is out but they have enough to break Chelsea's defense at the moment. While we completely dominated Villa our defense looked shaky on the couple of occasions they got through. I think Frank will start with Pulisic instead of RLC and I'm not sure if Jorge's ban is up but I think he will start a very similar line up. I like Kante in the deeper role and this could be key against City. If we can get a point it would be real result.
We must not play Kante as a sitting DM tomorrow.

The last time he played there in a big game we were 3-0 down at half half time, City will bait him into vacating position to press and will give them free reign running at our backline. Also we won't be able to get out, our CBs aren't good at playing out as it is, add no regista to the mix and City will strangle us out of the game, we struggled playing out quickly and effectively against a Villa side not bothering to press.

Furthermore, Kante has been great against the big sides playing right side of a 3 man, it's not these big games were the problems with him in this set up lie, it's against deep defenses.
 

anant

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Wolves, as good as they have been, lack the squad depth to play these many games over a short period of time. For reference, look at their record during Christmas period this year and last year:

2018/19 season
15 Dec - W 2-0 vs Bournemouth
22 Dec - L 0-2 vs Pool
26 Dec - D 1-1 vs Fulham
29 Dec - W 1-3 vs Spurs
3 Jan - L 0-2 vs Palace
15 Jan - L 0-3 vs City

2019/20 season
15 Dec - L 1-2 vs Spurs
21 Dec - W 1-2 vs Norwich
27 Dec - W 3-2 vs City
29 Dec - L 0-1 vs Pool
1 Jan - L 2-1 vs Watford
11 Jan D 1-1 vs Newcastle

Sure, in both the years, their fixture list hasn't been kind to them. But, they have dropped a good amount of points to non-elite teams as well. Add to that, fixture congestion is arguably worse right now than it was during Chistmas
 

BenitoSTARR

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It really should not. If we do manage to win today, I think we could be within 1-2 points of Chelsea by the end of the week. Chelsea and Leicester play each other on the weekend. We absolutely must win today and over the weekend. It will give us the best chance to overtake both teams. Anything short of 2 wins will make it very very difficult. We will need to claw back 5-6 points with both their fixture lists suddenly looking much easier for them as well.

Critical week for Champions League football next season. ( I'm assuming the City ban will get overturned with the fact that football needs huge capital infusion and suddenly the Deep pockets will be needed again).

Edit: Got that so wrong! The Chelsea v Leicester game is an FA cup tie, and so is our weekend fixture. Going down to the wire then!
The confidence of the opening compared to the realisation of the mistake haha!

I think if we have a chance of top 4 it’s going to come very late. I honestly think even if we go on a lovely streak it’s going to be so tight.

Leicester are struggling, Chelsea are moving well, we’re fully fit and Wolves have been hounded at the door more recently.

Could be the closest top 4 battle in recent history.
 

blue blue

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We must not play Kante as a sitting DM tomorrow.

The last time he played there in a big game we were 3-0 down at half half time, City will bait him into vacating position to press and will give them free reign running at our backline. Also we won't be able to get out, our CBs aren't good at playing out as it is, add no regista to the mix and City will strangle us out of the game, we struggled playing out quickly and effectively against a Villa side not bothering to press.

Furthermore, Kante has been great against the big sides playing right side of a 3 man, it's not these big games were the problems with him in this set up lie, it's against deep defenses.
[/QUOTE)

Jorginho had better be fit then. If he gets caught napping against Mahrez, De Bruyne or Jesus they will score. I hear what you are saying but Jorginho's passing isn't probing enough at the best of times. I would play Kovacic alongside him to open up the attack. I just feel we sit back a bit further with Jorginho in the team and mistakes get made.
 

blue blue

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Wolves, as good as they have been, lack the squad depth to play these many games over a short period of time. For reference, look at their record during Christmas period this year and last year:

2018/19 season
15 Dec - W 2-0 vs Bournemouth
22 Dec - L 0-2 vs Pool
26 Dec - D 1-1 vs Fulham
29 Dec - W 1-3 vs Spurs
3 Jan - L 0-2 vs Palace
15 Jan - L 0-3 vs City

2019/20 season
15 Dec - L 1-2 vs Spurs
21 Dec - W 1-2 vs Norwich
27 Dec - W 3-2 vs City
29 Dec - L 0-1 vs Pool
1 Jan - L 2-1 vs Watford
11 Jan D 1-1 vs Newcastle

Sure, in both the years, their fixture list hasn't been kind to them. But, they have dropped a good amount of points to non-elite teams as well. Add to that, fixture congestion is arguably worse right now than it was during Chistmas
Those games are in the middle of winter and they would have picked up injuries in the first half of the season. The current situation means they have been resting for a couple of months and are raring to go. Traore came on the other day and changed the game for them. He is also looking leaner.
Wolves are right in this.
 

Dancfc

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Jorginho had better be fit then. If he gets caught napping against Mahrez, De Bruyne or Jesus they will score. I hear what you are saying but Jorginho's passing isn't probing enough at the best of times. I would play Kovacic alongside him to open up the attack. I just feel we sit back a bit further with Jorginho in the team and mistakes get made.
It's not so much Jorginho's probing ability we need it's more to direct us out of the first phase (playing out). He always stands in the right position for a pass and will more often than not will find the player who's the most free. Gilmour's the same and tbh I'd have preferred him playing this despite his inexperience but i can't see that happening.
 

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Leicester have been in a free fall for a while, I just think they have too much of a points gap to be caught by Utd with the games left. They are certainly not in form.
 

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Pep hinting at a weakened team against us. Says they have their eye on Newcastle as its a "final for us"
 

anant

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Those games are in the middle of winter and they would have picked up injuries in the first half of the season. The current situation means they have been resting for a couple of months and are raring to go. Traore came on the other day and changed the game for them. He is also looking leaner.
Wolves are right in this.
Agree that wolves are in the race, but I don't think I can agree with your 1st paragraph . We are seeing that most of the players are struggling to complete 90 mins right now. And even then, it was just Boly who was injured, every other player was fit this season
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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Leicester have been in a free fall for a while, I just think they have too much of a points gap to be caught by Utd with the games left. They are certainly not in form.
Everyone keeps saying this but I’m not sure why. If we win tonight then that gap is reduced to 6 points. Beat them in our head to head and that becomes 3 points. A 3/4 point swing over 6-7 games is absolutely on the cards especially as they still have lots of tough games left. Obviously this does kind of depend on Utd picking back up into top form and winning the majority of our remaining games, which is up for debate.
 

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Pep hinting at a weakened team against us. Says they have their eye on Newcastle as its a "final for us"
I really hope so, Aguero is definitely out, if pep is going to leave De Bruyne and couple of others out we have a real chance at home to steal something. I have this down as a free hit anyway so to get something would be a bonus

Utd playing Leicester on the last day could be huge for us as one or both is dropping points
 

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I've always loved Pep, you know. What a gent.