Tottenham lead Newcastle, Liverpool in Champions League race, but the verdict is far from clear

6 months ago 174

3:07 PM GMT

  • Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Newcastle United suffered a treble stroke astatine the weekend. Within the abstraction of a fewer hours connected Sunday, Eddie Howe's squad were beaten successful the club's archetypal large last since 1999 and besides saw Tottenham unfastened up a four-point spread successful the contention to assertion the 4th and last Champions League spot.

The bully quality for Newcastle is that they person played 2 games less than Spurs, truthful the four-point shortage could go a two-point pb if they triumph their 2 outstanding fixtures. But Newcastle are conscionable 1 of six teams present playing the numbers crippled successful the pursuit of Champions League qualification, and nary of them tin assertion to beryllium successful the signifier to marque them favourites to decorativeness fourth.

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If leaders Arsenal, second-place Manchester City and third-place Manchester United, who person an eight-point cushion betwixt themselves and fifth-place Newcastle, are connected people for a Champions League spot, the congested scramble to instrumentality the 4th spot stretches down arsenic acold arsenic Brentford successful ninth, with 10th-placed Chelsea present person to the bottommost 3 than the apical 4 pursuing their 2-0 decision astatine Spurs connected Sunday.

Brentford successful the Champions League? Why not? Thomas Frank's team, who person beaten United, City and Liverpool this season, are 10 points down Spurs, but they person 2 games successful hand.

While they are intelligibly outsiders to ascent into the apical four, Brentford are unbeaten successful the Premier League since October, winning 5 and drafting six, truthful they are collecting points portion their rivals are losing games.

To person immoderate superior anticipation of finishing fourth, they volition request to crook draws into wins, but Brentford's adjacent 5 fixtures sees them look top-four rivals Fulham and Brighton, arsenic good arsenic struggling Everton, Southampton and Leicester, truthful it is simply a tally of games that volition marque oregon interruption their prospects.

Brighton are up of Brentford connected extremity quality and person 3 games successful manus connected Spurs, truthful Roberto De Zerbi's squad are surely successful the premix if they tin triumph astatine slightest 2 of those games. Saturday's 1-0 decision against Fulham was their archetypal nonaccomplishment successful 2023, and a costly 1 with Fulham consolidating sixth spot by virtuousness of their win. But having beaten United, Chelsea and Liverpool this season, Brighton are a unsafe squad susceptible of sustaining their propulsion for fourth.

Liverpool, successful seventh, are the astir unpredictable squad successful the chasing pack. Jurgen Klopp's broadside person the attacking options to surge into the apical four, but their antiaircraft shortcomings and deficiency of consistency successful midfield endanger to scupper their hopes. After beating Newcastle astatine St James' Park 9 days ago, Liverpool seemed favourites to decorativeness fourth, but they simply cannot physique immoderate momentum. They person won conscionable 3 of their past 11 games successful each competitions and are present 9 points down Spurs, albeit with 2 games successful hand.

Liverpool's location crippled against Spurs connected April 30 could beryllium decisive, but lone if Klopp's broadside find immoderate signifier successful the weeks up -- a pugnacious inquire considering their adjacent six league games includes fixtures against United, City and Arsenal.

But for back-to-back defeats against Newcastle and Spurs successful January, Fulham would beryllium successful a overmuch stronger presumption to assertion a astonishment top-four decorativeness pursuing promotion from the EFL Championship past season. Having played 25 games, much than each their rivals barroom Spurs, Fulham could beryllium reeled successful by the pack, but the flip-side is that they person points successful the container and are conscionable six points down Tottenham.

Coach Marco Silva's occurrence successful revitalising players with a constituent to beryllium successful the Premier League, including Andreas Pereira, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian, has been cardinal to Fulham's awesome play to date. But with Brentford, Arsenal and Liverpool adjacent up successful the league, their prospects volition soon go clearer.

In presumption of points already attained and games successful hand, Newcastle are arguably successful the strongest position. But erstwhile you see their caller form, it present seems a gangly bid to Howe's broadside to instrumentality vantage of their outstanding fixtures. They person won conscionable erstwhile successful their past 7 Premier League games, scoring 3 goals during that run, and their momentum is heading successful the incorrect direction.

Miguel Almiron, Newcastle's apical scorer with 10 league goals, has netted doubly since the World Cup, making the team's problems obvious. If they neglect to bounce backmost from their nonaccomplishment successful the Carabao Cup last against United, Newcastle could adjacent gaffe retired of the Europa League places.

So Spurs, with 4 wins successful their past 5 Premier League games, are the squad to bushed successful the contention for fourth.

A three-game streak successful April, which sees them question to Newcastle and Liverpool connected either broadside of playing United astatine home, gives Spurs the accidental to decorativeness disconnected their biggest rivals and guarantee a comfy extremity to the season.

Spurs person shown their inconsistencies this season, truthful they are hardly a harmless bet. It is simply a six-team conflict -- immoderate volition autumn by the wayside successful the weeks ahead, but if immoderate of the six tin find signifier and consistency, they volition suffice for the Champions League.

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