Title Battle, CL Qualification, and Relegation Ruckus in the 2022-23 Premier League
The 2022-23 English Premier League caravan is set to enter its final fortnight as new identities will be formed and some will be rechristened with teams like Newcastle United and Manchester United hoping to qualify for the UEFA Champions League after a hiatus of 20 years and 1 year respectively.
The ongoing Premier League season has been one of its kind for many reasons with the mid-season break for the 2022 FIFA World Cup allowing several teams to reset and bounce back whilst several teams lost their momentum in the 40-day break.
Erling Haaland has broken umpteen records in the league despite being in his first season at the club whilst Harry Kane overtook Wayne Rooney to become the second-highest goal-scorer in the league’s history with Alan Shearer more than a half-century of goals away from the England captain.
Manchester City is currently on a 12-game unbeaten streak in the Premier League since their 1-0 loss to 10-men Tottenham Hotspur. The dozen matches also include two wins over Arsenal, a 3-1 win back in February at the Emirates Stadium and a 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium in April.
On the other hand, Arsenal started the month of April with a 4-1 win against Leeds United but followed it up with three consecutive draws against Liverpool, West Ham United, and relegation-threatened Southampton followed by the 4-1 crushing at the hands of their title rivals.
While the Gunners have since then bounced back with consecutive wins against Chelsea and Newcastle United, Mikel Arteta’s men now trail City by a point with Pep Guardiola’s side having a match in hand as well.
William Saliba’s absence has hurt Arsenal in defense whilst the likes of Haaland and Kevin de Bruyne are breaking records of goalscoring and assist-making respectively for a single PL season.
Guardiola will now be turning his attention to the two legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid sandwiched by a trip to the Merseyside to face Everton. The Cityzens will be hosting Chelsea followed by two consecutive away fixtures against Brighton & Hove Albion and Brentford.
Arteta’s men have an easier schedule on paper as they host Brighton & Hove Albion and Wolves sandwich by a trip to the eastern part of the country to face Nottingham Forest. With City distracted by the crucial second leg of the semi-final against Real Madrid, the Gunners would be hoping that City drops some points on the domestic front.
UEFA Champions League Qualification Race
If somebody bet on Newcastle United to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League, they are set to make a fortune as the Magpies have had a remarkable season under the leadership of Eddie Howe.
The Tyneside-based club currently sits in the third position with 65 points in 34 matches and would be looking to bounce back from the defeat to Arsenal as they are set to face Leeds United, Brighton, and Leicester City in a span of ten days. Howe’s men will close their season at Stamford Bridge in a bid to seal the UCL spot.
Manchester United has grown leaps and bounds under Erik ten Hag after losing their first two Premier League games of the season to Brighton and Brentford. With only Brighton doing a double over the Red Devils, they sit in the fourth position with 63 points in 34 matches.
Three home matches against Wolves, Chelsea, and Fulham signify that United should be able to seal their place in next season’s Champions League. The Bruno Fernandes-led side will also travel to the south coast to face Bournemouth.
Liverpool has had a strange season marred by injuries and the lack of form of several key players. Jurgen Klopp’s men have 62 points from 35 matches with fixtures against Leicester City, Aston Villa, and Southampton still to be played.
Mohammed Salah has scored 19 league goals for the fifth consecutive season and support from Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez, and Diogo Jota has further ensured that the Anfield-based outfit will remain hot on the heels in pursuit of Europe’s elite club competition.
Tottenham Hotspur was in the driving seat behind Arsenal and Man City at one point with Antonio Conte set to reserve UCL football at their new stadium for a second consecutive season but things went downhill soon and the club has had three managers in charge during the ongoing league season.
The North London-based club has 57 points in 35 matches and is yet to face Aston Villa, Brentford, and Leeds United before starting the planning for a new season.
Brighton & Hove Albion have played the least amount of matches in the league as they have 55 points in 33 matches. The Seagulls lost their long-serving manager in the midst of the season but didn’t take their foot off the pedal as they are still in the fight for a place in European football.
With five games to be played in the next 15 days, Brighton’s squad depth will be tested to the core as tough assignments against Arsenal, Newcastle United, Southampton, Manchester City, and Aston Villa await Roberto De Zerbi’s side.
Southampton head into Matchday 36 with only 24 points from 35 matches and a defeat against Fulham will seal their feat as their fans are bracing for a drop-down to the EFL Championship. After Fulham, the Saints are set to face Brighton and Liverpool with both teams fighting for Europe.
Heading into Matchday 35, Leicester City, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, and Everton were separated by a single point making this one of the closest and toughest relegation scrapes in the recent history of the league.
While Everton smashed five goals for the first time since September 2020, Nottingham Forest edged a 7-goal thriller defeating Southampton 4-3 to leave Leicester and Leeds in the drop zone ahead of the final run-in. Forest, now in 16th, faces Chelsea, Arsenal, and Crystal Palace to decide their fate while the Toffees will face Manchester City, Wolves, and Bournemouth.
Sam Allardyce also has a tough job on his hands as Leeds United face Newcastle United, West Ham United, and Tottenham Hotspur in a bid to avoid the drop. 2015-16 Premier League champions Leicester arguably has the toughest three fixtures to follow in Liverpool, Newcastle United, and West Ham United.
We are in for a big fortnight of English Premier League football which will shape the memories of fans of the teams involved at either end of the table.