Barring a miraculous reversal of form it is now reasonable to assume that Chelsea are destined to clinch this season’s Premier League crown. Indeed such has been their impressive dominance Antonio Conte’s men have been champions-elect since the beginning of February.
If this has devalued the drama at the very top it has only enhanced the nail-biting scrap that is going on just beneath as five English giants vie for the remaining priceless Champions League spots. Since Chelsea’s sprint into the distance it has become a mini-league with everything at stake.
Yet basic maths tells us that five into three doesn’t go which means that this summer two behemoths of the game will be reluctantly contenting themselves with the prospect of Europa League football next term and downgrading their lofty spending plans accordingly. It will be a bitter pill to swallow.
Who though will it hurt the most?
The last occasion that Arsenal finished outside of the top four was way back in 1996, when Bruce Rioch sat perplexed in the dug-out and John Jensen was considered a first-team midfielder. Financially the club could easily sustain the huge drop in income but the Gunners would suffer more than most as regards to their personnel. Even with securing Champions League you feel it will be difficult this summer to lure the finest talents due to the uncertainty surrounding Arsene Wenger’s future. Without it expect an exodus of rats leaving a capsized boat.
Last season’s runners-up have so far lost only three times this term – at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford, and Anfield – and look shoo-ins for at least a top four berth.
Harry Kane’s recent injury is a concern however and should the goals dry up and Pochettino’s boys miss out it’s expected that they will suffer the least of the contenders due to having a nucleus of young players faithful to the cause. Pochettino meanwhile has proven himself astute at bringing in players hungry for success and not wanting it ready-made in the form of Champions League football.
Unbeaten in their opening ten games it looked at one stage that Pep Guardiola had immediately implanted his magic in east Manchester. In the event there have been peaks and troughs, which to neutrals has been a heck of a lot of fun to watch. Indeed we can only think of one thing more fun and that’s playing the Pink Panther online slot which offers a welcome bonus of up to 200%!
Should the Blues slide out of the reckoning it’s hard to imagine any of their present stars putting in transfer requests while Pep’s pulling power should ensure their rebuild continues unabated.
Having spent a sizable fortune in recent years in an attempt to ride out a post-Fergie slump United are reliant on a fourth spot in order to do similar this summer. Should they fail Mourinho’s shortlist of targets – A-listers to a man – will be ripped up and alternatives sought elsewhere but serious concerns would lie in David De Gea’s immediate future.
More than any of their rivals United will suffer financially should they fail to mount a successful challenge from now until May. Their value and brand is dependent on what occurs on the pitch.
Falling short of attaining Champions League football won’t be the end of the world for the Merseyside club but that should not diminish their immense frustration. This was always going to be the season to springboard Klopp’s vision to the next level and a postponement of that will infuriate and exasperate the Anfield faithful. As with their peers a necessary downgrading of their targets will also prove a disheartening setback.