Premier League top four, relegation races coming to conclusion

With only three matches remaining in the 2022-23 English Premier League season, the battles to both secure a place in the Champions League and stay in the Premier League are heating up. The top four placers in the league secure the lucrative opportunity to play in the UEFA Champions League, and two have already been claimed. Manchester City and Arsenal have already mathematically secured top four places for next season, with City looking to have also sewn up the league title following Arsenal’s loss to Brighton this past weekend. That leaves two places up for grabs, and four teams are still battling it out. At the other end of the table, three teams must be relegated to the Championship. Southampton’s demotion has already been confirmed following their defeat to Newcastle, but any two of four sides could make up the final two relegation places come the end of the season. Both races look to be coming down to the final day, which leaves us with quite an interesting discussion.  

Newcastle, Manchester United, Liverpool and Brighton are all still able to get into the top four. Newcastle and Manchester United are the incumbents, sitting in third and fourth at the time of writing with 66 points apiece, while Liverpool has 62 points and Brighton has 58 points. The maximum points tallies for these clubs are 75, 75, 71 and 70, respectively. Newcastle looked to be a lock for the Champions League places in weeks past, but the Magpies have stumbled in recent matches, with a draw against relegation strugglers Leeds United. United has also begun to slip in the final weeks of the season, but did manage to beat a solid Wolves team 2-0 at home this week to tie Newcastle on points. Liverpool is absolutely flying after a slip into midtable during the middle of the season. The Reds have won six in a row after holding past league leaders Arsenal to a draw in early April. Brighton, too, is entering the key weeks having just ended Arsenal’s title push with a 3-0 win away at the Emirates Stadium and a recent league win against Manchester United, as well as a 6-0 thrashing of Wolves at home. I predict Newcastle and Liverpool will secure third and fourth, while United will slip to fifth and Brighton will come in sixth.

The four sides scrapping to stay in the top division are Leicester City, Leeds United, Everton and Nottingham Forest. Leicester is one of the surprises of the season. Just two seasons ago, the Foxes were knocking on the door of the Champions League places and making a deep run in the Europa League. Now with star striker Jamie Vardy aging out and a horrific defense, they slid down the table to finish eighth last season, and now can finish no higher than 16th. They’ve recently drawn relegation six-pointers with Leeds and Everton, both of which they held a lead in, and a win in either would see them sitting 17th currently as opposed to 19th. Leeds recently brought in relegation savior Sam Allardyce to hopefully coach the team to safety. They managed a draw against high-flying Newcastle, but they have also conceded four or more goals three times in the last six weeks in the league and haven’t won a league match since April 4. Everton has only recently gotten themselves into a hopeful position with an unexpected 5-1 win away to Brighton—their first league win since March 4—jumping them to 17th. Forest seems the most likely to be safe, as they have won two and drawn one of their previous four games to put themselves three points clear of the relegation places. Predicting relegation is always difficult, but I would back Everton and Nottingham Forest to stay up. The latter has hit a great patch of form recently, while the former should stay up solely by the lack of winnable games for Leeds and Leicester remaining. Leeds simply concedes far too many goals, while Leicester plays Newcastle, Manchester United and West Ham, who are no pushovers themselves. Unfortunately, I expect to see these two big clubs go down in a few weeks.