Tuesday 6 December 2016

Still plenty to play for in the Barclays Premier League

Published 11/04/2016 | 17:26

Claudio Ranieri, left, and Mauricio Pochettino
Claudio Ranieri, left, and Mauricio Pochettino

Leicester are now guaranteed Champions League football next season after they finished this weekend 19 points clear of fifth-placed Manchester United with only 18 left to play for.

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However, this degree of certainty is rare even this late in this remarkable Premier League season.

Press Association Sport looks at the remaining fixtures to see how far each top-flight club could still rise or fall.

Second-placed Tottenham - themselves 12 points clear of United after beating them on Sunday - are the only team apart from the Foxes who are guaranteed to finish in the top half of the table. Should Spurs lose all of their remaining games while Liverpool and Southampton win all of theirs, then the Reds would overtake them while the Saints would draw level on points and be able to edge past the North London side on goal difference, leaving Mauricio Pochettino's side eighth in the table.

Returning to Manchester United, they and the three clubs immediately beneath them may still be capable of snatching second place but incredibly could sink as low as 16th if they were to lose all of their remaining fixtures while other results went against them. Every club as far down as Crystal Palace can match or better the Red Devils' current haul of 53 points, although this combination is obviously very unlikely to occur.

Chelsea's title defence is now officially over but the silver lining is that the Blues can no longer be relegated. While a glance at the table suggests that they are still technically in danger of the drop - their tally of 44 points is one shy of 18th-placed Sunderland's maximum possible haul of 45 - they are already mathematically safe thanks to the fixture schedule. The Black Cats still have to play 17th-placed Norwich, meaning that there is no scenario in which both clubs reach 44 points. Therefore one of them is guaranteed to remain beneath the Blues, along with the current bottom two of Newcastle and Aston Villa who cannot catch them.

However there remains plenty for the teams at the sharp end of the table to play for: every club except the aforementioned bottom two can still finish the season in the top half if results go their way. The Magpies could only rise as high as 11th if they were to win all of their remaining matches and other results went their way, while Aston Villa would need maximum points from their remaining five games and for Norwich to lose all of theirs to stand any chance of leaving the bottom three.

Everton may have endured a disappointing season but their game in hand over the clubs around them means that they still have 21 points to play for. Adding this to their current tally of 39 gives a potential final haul of 60, which means that it remains possible for them to overtake Arsenal - who have 59 - and finish the season in third.

Press Association

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