Premier League ball

Premier League: State of Play

The final international break of the season has been and gone, and now we enter the final few weeks of the 2023/24 Premier League season with the focus now on club football.

After the final international break of the 2023/24 season, the Premier League is set to return for yet another weekend of world-class football in England’s top flight. With no further international breaks to go this term, teams, players, managers, and fans can now solely focus on club football, with everything still up for grabs going into the final few weeks of the campaign.

All 20 teams continue to battle each other in order to enhance their respective chances of realising their ambitions for the current campaign. Starting with the title race, it is one of the most enthralling and unpredictable in years with as many as 3 teams involved. Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal current sit at the summit of the English top flight, followed by Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in second and then reigning Premier League Champions Manchester City, led by Pep Guardiola, in third place as it currently stands.

Just a point separates the top three in the current table. Arsenal and Liverpool have both accumulated 64 points from their 28 games so far with the North London side top on goal difference. You then have City just behind both of their title rivals with 63 points collected after the same number of games as the top two.

This weekend, two of these title rivals will meet head on when Manchester City host league leaders Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in a 16:30pm kick-off on the afternoon of Sunday 31st March 2024. A result here for City would see them leapfrog Liverpool and the Gunners into first place, should Klopp’s Reds lose or draw with Brighton at Anfield earlier that same day.

If Arsenal win, their lead at the summit could grow to 3 points if Liverpool lose, but 2 if they play out a draw against Roberto De Zerbi’s Seagulls. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds can, in turn, re-take the lead at the top of the Premier League table if they beat Brighton and Mikel Arteta’s Gunners side fail to win.

Slightly further down the table, three teams are fighting for UEFA Champions League qualification. Aston Villa currently sit in fourth place with 56 points, with Spurs close behind them with 53 matches and a game in hand over their West Midlands rivals. These two teams are in the closest battle for the top four, but Manchester United, with 47 points from the same number of games as Tottenham, are also aiming for Champions League qualification, with Erik Ten Hag’s Red Devils currently 9 points adrift of Unai Emery’s Villa as it stands.

Victory for Villa this weekend would see them hold on to 4th place, and they would at least maintain their three point gap. However, they do have the opportunity to extend their lead to as many as 6 should Spurs lose.

However, there is the chance that Spurs can climb back into the top four if they are victorious against Luton and if Villa lose their game against West Midlands rivals Wolves at Villa Park. United face Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium, and they could close the gap to Spurs to just 3 points if Ange Postecoglou’s side are defeated and the Red Devils get the better of the Bees.

Then, in the fight for UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League football, West Ham United, Brighton, Wolves, Newcastle United, and Chelsea are all involved in this tight and very competitive race.

David Moyes’ Hammers are the leading contenders for a top six place with them only 3 points behind Manchester United and they are currently on track for European football’s tertiary competition – the UEFA Europa Conference League. Brighton are just 2 points behind their London rivals, with Gary O’Neil’s Wolves just a point behind them.

Then you have Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United who are 4 behind West Ham and just 1 behind Wolves overall as it stands, whilst Chelsea are just a single point behind the Magpies.

Newcastle and West Ham actually meet face to face at St. James’s Park in a crucial game in the race for European football in a Saturday lunchtime kick-off (12:30pm). As for Wolves, they have Villa away from home on Saturday evening, whilst Chelsea face Burnley on that same afternoon.

There are a cluster of teams fighting for mid-table positions. We will then move on down to the relegation battle, where there are as many as 7 teams who are in trouble at the bottom, and these teams are Sheffield United, Burnley, Nottingham Forest, Luton Town, Everton, Brentford and Crystal Palace.

Oliver Glasner’s Crystal Palace are the closest to safety of any of these seven teams, with 8 points separating themselves and the drop. A win away against relegation rivals Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Saturday would see them go within touching distance of confirming their safety in the top flight.

As for Thomas Frank’s Brentford, they are in deeper trouble with 5 points separating them and the relegation zone – and they are going to face a very tough test this weekend in the form of a home game at the Gtech Community Stadium against top four chasing Manchester United.

We then move one place down to 16th place Everton, who are led by Sean Dyche. At the moment, the Toffees sit outside of the relegation zone by a margin of 4 points following some past results and a reduction in their points deduction. This weekend, they are up against Andoni Iraola’s AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on the South Coast on Saturday afternoon in what is a 15:00pm kick-off.

Moving on to Rob Edwards’ newly promoted Luton Town side, they are a point above the drop zone after Nottingham Forest’s points deduction that is currently going through an appeal as of the time of writing. This Saturday, the Hatters are set to go head to head with Champions League Chasing Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London that afternoon in a 15:00pm kick-off.

Talking of Nottingham Forest, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are just a point adrift of safety and a win against Saturday’s opponents Brentford would lift them out of the relegation zone once more if Luton fail to beat Spurs that same day.

Burnley are further adrift of Premier League safety than Forest with Vincent Kompany’s Clarets side 5 points adrift of safety after 29 matches played so far this season. They are set to face a Mauricio Pochettino led Chelsea side that are currently chasing a European Qualification spot going into the final few weeks and matches of this campaign.

If Burnley beat the Blues, they could reduce the gaps between Nottingham Forest and Luton Town to a point and 2 points, respectively, should other results also go their way.

Finally, we now move on to Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United, who are currently sat at the foot of the current 2023/24 Premier League table, rooted to the bottom. They are currently on just 14 points after 28 matches with just 3 wins so far. This weekend, the Blades are facing Fulham at Bramall Lane, where a win would reduce the gap between themselves and safety to 5 points with 9 games to go if all other results go their way.

Excitement and anticipation is growing rapidly ahead of the return of Premier League football this weekend that is set to get underway with Newcastle United v West Ham in a 12:30pm lunchtime kick-off on the afternoon of Saturday 30th March 2024.

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