Premier League top four fixtures: Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester run-ins

The Premier League may not have much of a title race to speak of this season but the battle to finish in the top four and earn a place in next year’s Champions League will go down to the final day.

Chelsea and Leicester City currently occupy third and fourth place but Liverpool can jump into fourth-place by winning away at Burnley on Wednesday night.

The Independent has broken down what is left of the run-ins, checking the average home and away points-per-game and average expected goal difference (xGD) of their remaining opponents.

Who has the best run-in and who has the worst?

3. Chelsea

Points: 67

Goal difference: +23

Run-in difficulty: ⭐⭐1/2

Remaining Opponents

Avg PPG: 1.22; Avg xGD: +1.2

23/05 Aston Villa (A)

Anything less than revenge for Saturday’s FA Cup final defeat and a win against Leicester would have spelled trouble for Chelsea’s hopes of playing in the Champions League next season.

Thankfully for Thomas Tuchel, their position suddenly looks a lot stronger after Antonio Rudiger and Jorginho’s goals at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

Chelsea overtook Leicester to move third, one point clear and with a three-goal cushion on goal difference, which could prove crucial.

The three points mean they are in control of their own destiny. A final day trip to a flagging Aston Villa side is not too intimidating but tough enough. Tuchel will still need to make sure that his players get the job done.

4. Leicester City

Points: 66

Goal difference: +20

Run-in difficulty: ⭐⭐⭐

Remaining Opponents

Avg PPG: 1.44; Avg xGD: +4.0

23/05 Tottenham (H)

Leicester’s defeat leaves them relying on results elsewhere, starting at Turf Moor on Wednesday night. If Liverpool win away to Burnley, they will go above the FA Cup winners ahead of the final day.

If there is a silver lining, it is that Kelechi Iheanacho’s strike at Stamford Bridge limited the damage to a one-goal defeat.

If Liverpool win both their remaining games and Leicester beat Tottenham at the King Power on the final day, it will come down to goal difference, with last year’s champions currently one goal ahead.

All that can wait for now, though. Brendan Rodgers simply needs to win on Sunday and hope that is enough to carry his side over the line.

5. Liverpool

Points: 63

Goal difference: +21

Run-in difficulty: ⭐1/2

Remaining Opponents

Avg PPG: 1.09; Avg xGD: -19.5

19/05 Burnley (A)

23/05 Crystal Palace (H)

Whatever the result was at Stamford Bridge, it would help Liverpool. But of all the possible outcomes, a narrow Leicester defeat was probably the worst.

Essentially, it means their fate is not strictly in their hands. A win at Turf Moor will take them above Leicester on goal difference. Whether they qualify for the Champions League or not will depend on bettering Leicester’s final day result.

On paper, their run-in is the easiest and has been for a long time but they have still made hard work of it, dropping points late on against Leeds and Newcastle before their goalkeeper’s heroics at the Hawthorns.

Crystal Palace then visit Anfield on the final day. Could Roy Hodgson deny his former club Champions League football in his final game in management?

What if Chelsea finish outside the top four but win the Champions League?

In this scenario, Chelsea would join the Premier League’s top four in next season’s Champions League as the Premier League’s fifth representative.

The Premier League can send a maximum of five teams to the Champions League.

The fourth-place finishers would only have missed out on qualification if Chelsea had won the Champions League while finishing outside the top four and Arsenal had also won the Europa League.

Arsenal’s semi-final elimination at the hands of Villarreal means the teams who finish in the top four will all qualify for the Champions League.

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