July 12, 2024

There are just four games remaining, and West Ham will be entertaining Liverpool…

You can just imagine the thoughts of the TV people who select the games to be shown on domestic television sitting down to decide what to show this weekend. They would obviously be looking towards the top of the Premier League as there is not too much excitement when assessing the relegation struggle at the foot of the table. The points deductions for Everton and Nottingham Forest threw those clubs into the mix, but surely it’s hard to see beyond last year’s promoted sides from the Championship making a swift return (although Forest are still involved), unless there are any other surprise points deductions. Manchester City perhaps??

So let’s look at the top 3. Manchester City at Brighton on Thursday night meant that their game at Forest was one destined for Sunday as was the North London derby. That meant the three games to be selected for Saturday TV had to include Liverpool (who were well placed to win the title when the schedules were drawn up) visiting the London Stadium to face West Ham who, at the time (in theory) were well placed to be pushing for a European place themselves via their league position.

But what has happened? Liverpool, favourites in the Europa League lost their invincibility at Anfield collapsing to Atalanta, effectively putting them out of the competition, and then followed this on the Sunday with a defeat at home to Crystal Palace. This week’s loss in the Merseyside derby has put them out of the title race. Palace, Brentford and Everton (14th, 15th, 16th) have all collected more points in their last five games than Liverpool, that’s how poor they have been in recent games.

Unless Arsenal and Manchester City both have a nightmare of a time in their remaining games (which is unlikely to happen) then Liverpool’s chances of the title are over. They are both saying to Liverpool catch us if you can. It won’t happen. Following City’s comprehensive demolition of Brighton on Thursday evening they are now in pole position to claim the title for a fourth successive season. They always seem to come on strongly at the end of the season. That’s what a big squad can help with. David Moyes prefers small squads and would probably prefer an even smaller one than he has got.

West Ham, who reached the halfway point in the league in sixth place with a win at Arsenal at the end of December, are incredibly still in contention to finish seventh; we are eighth just two points behind Newcastle. When I say in contention I mean mathematically of course; in reality it would need a miracle with the closing pack with games in hand and our remaining fixtures and form.

Liverpool, Chelsea, Luton and Manchester City are the opponents in the final four games. Liverpool are having a disastrous end to the season seemingly unable to give Klopp the farewell he wanted, Chelsea were thrashed 5-0 by Arsenal this week, and Luton have won just one of their last thirteen league games. That still doesn’t give me any confidence for our run-in. In 2024 we have won just four times in twenty-one attempts. Three wins in fifteen league games (Brentford, Everton and Wolves), with the other win against Freiburg at home in the Europa League.

No doubt on TV they will be building Saturday’s game up as two teams with a lot to play for (as they always do) when in reality they haven’t. It’s now just a two horse race to be Premier League champions, so Liverpool have nothing really other than a vain hope that Arsenal and Manchester City will both falter. One might perhaps but two of them?  And what have we got to play for? Each incremental position in the final league table is worth £2.2 million so that’s about all really.

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