Pundits Predictions: The Soccer Saturday panel discuss Arsenal, Man Utd & Chelsea's top four chances
Pundits Predictions: The Soccer Saturday panel discuss Arsenal, Man Utd & Chelsea's top four chances

Super Sunday Pundits Predictions: How are Chelsea, Arsenal & Man Utd's chances of making the top four going?

With Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea all playing on Sunday, the Soccer Saturday panel discuss the trio's top four chances.

Phil Thompson

Who has had the best start to the season out of Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea?

I think Chelsea have had the best start, and the most surprising out of the three teams. They had the ban, with Frank Lampard being the new manager to come through the door. He was wet behind the ears, but still had a good squad to work with - he has united the whole of the dressing room and got the best out of the young players so far.

Everyone said he would have given them a chance anyway, but if they needed to splash the cash to help Frank in his first few months, then they would have done that in order to bring in a centre midfielder or attacker, subsequently knocking Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham out of the squad. It has been a great opportunity to give them a longer stint in the side. Regarding stockpiled academy players, it shows they can feature and do well if given the chance. Fikayo Tomori has also been a success.

Who has the best chance of finishing in the top four?

At this moment, I still believe Tottenham, despite the dramatic defeat by Bayern Munich, possess the 13-15 players and strength in depth to do this, similar to Chelsea as opposed to Manchester United. Tottenham will go on a run of 10-12 games and if they still have the belief in them, they should do it. Chelsea have surprised me the most, but I think Chelsea will do better than Manchester United and Arsenal.

Where do you think each one will finish?

  • 3rd: Chelsea
  • 4th: Tottenham
  • 5th: Arsenal
  • 6th: Manchester United

Going on present form currently, I think these teams have a bit more than what Arsenal and Man Utd have. While discussing this, you are looking at the resurgence of the Leicester team, who could dislodge any of them teams who miss out on the top four. Fifth place should be well in their sights. As they stand at the moment, Leicester are right in contention, but it will be the ‘big six’ who occupy those places again this year.

Who is the key man for each team?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the main man for Arsenal. He is such a consistent goalscorer. I like Alexandre Lacazette, but without him they will not get the goals while conceding them. Aubameyang has 14 in his last 14 starts so they need him to score as they will concede.

I would have to say Paul Pogba is the man for Manchester United. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can keep the squad together, and Pogba plays on a consistent basis, they can still be in the top six. It is a big call, as Harry Maguire will play a big part too. Pogba will have to up his consistency level first.

Tammy Abraham will score enough goals, and there is a lot of pressure on the youngster’s shoulders, but because when N’Golo Kante plays, he has the pace and energy in midfield to compete with anyone in the Premier League, I would have to say him. Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho can sometimes get overrun in those midfield areas, but Kante needs to be a lot fitter, because it is proven that Chelsea need him week in, week out.

Who has the best manager?

Frank Lampard has done incredibly well. Solskjaer is still searching for consistency within his squad. Unai Emery is doing the same - he has not rectified his defence, so I would go for Frank Lampard, to keep steering this ship. We have seen these players turn against a manager very quickly, so if he can keep a grip of them, it would be massive for Chelsea, with them being a bit younger than the others too.

Matt Le Tissier

Who has had the best start to the season out of Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea?

It certainly isn’t Manchester United, so it would be between Arsenal and Chelsea, but Chelsea are looking more promising, given the situation they have found themselves in. I think the situation might serve as a lesson to a lot of clubs - if you give the kids a chance, you never know how good they can be. Other clubs could look at this and save a lot of money - they could give the players they are developing a chance instead of spending.

Who has the best chance of finishing in the top four?

I would say Chelsea out of those three teams have the best chance. I think they will get stronger as the season goes on and the youth players will grow and improve as the season progresses. They will finish just above Arsenal. I would not discount Leicester from the conversation too.

Where do you think each one will finish?

I think Leicester have got a chance. The way they have started, you can bracket them into the teams we are talking about. I think they are 7/2 to finish in the top four - I still think that is generous, given the way the other teams are performing at the moment. They have got an incredibly good chance and it is a fifty-fifty chance of finishing in the top six, with an outside chance of finishing top four.

Who is the key man for each team?

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the key man at Arsenal. He is a phenomenal finisher and his goal record is absolutely awesome. If Arsenal are going to win games, it is going to be about Arsenal scoring more than the opposition.

I would go with Fikayo Tomori for Chelsea. I think Chelsea’s weakness is at the back, and he could be a big player for them. If he has a good season and can keep clean sheets then that could give them the basis for a top four fight. He dealt with Mohamed Salah really well in the Liverpool game.

If they were going to do something this season then Paul Pogba is the man for Manchester United. He has injury problems but when he gets back, he can make a big difference for them. They are weak in midfield when you take him out. Even Bournemouth came to St Mary’s and won, which Man Utd couldn’t do!

Who has the best manager?

Unai Emery has the best track-record, but Frank Lampard has the potential to go on and be a better manager than Emery - he has won three Europa Leagues, but in another 10 years’ time when you compare, you might be saying that Lampard is better than Emery.

Charlie Nicholas

Who has had the best start to the season out of Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea?

I would say Arsenal. They crumbled when they went to Man Utd but nicked a point, they came from two goals down against Tottenham to get a point, and they came from one goal down on two occasions, with 10 men, against Aston Villa to win 3-2. Their defence is anything but good, but everyone is complimenting Chelsea for playing youngsters - Arsenal have played Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson.

They too have been without Alexandre Lacazette, so it has been a good start. You have to average two points per game to break into the top four, but they will be targeting 70 points for the top four, I don’t think you will need as many as previous seasons. Arsenal are heading in the right direction and are scoring goals.

The Chelsea youngsters are playing well, but they should have got something out of the Liverpool game and got beat. I like what Chelsea are doing. There is still work to do and they are vulnerable at the back. The truth is already in the table, and that is why Manchester United are down there. The fact that people are suggesting this is the worst Man Utd team since the Premier League started says it all. Their standards in previous years has been incredibly high but that is why they are sitting on nine points from seven matches, a shambolic start by all accounts.

Who has the best chance of finishing in the top four?

I think Tottenham are in this pack also. Liverpool and Manchester City are the runaway giants and it could be that way in only three or four weeks’ time. West Ham are talking about it but their group isn’t big enough. Leicester are the real threat who could challenge. With the goals they get and the youngsters coming in, I have to say Arsenal, although their defence cannot continue like this. This can improve with Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding. Chelsea will be up and down, Man Utd are too inconsistent and we have no idea what is going on with Tottenham.

  • 3rd: Arsenal
  • 4th: Tottenham
  • 5th: Leicester
  • 6th: Chelsea

Who is the key man for each team?

It is too easy to go with Aubameyang because of his goals, but for Arsenal it could be Berndt Leno. He has had to pull them out of a few holes already. He will make mistakes himself, but Arsenal are undoubtedly poor in defence, so if he has a big season, more so than Aubameyang and Lacazette who will score plenty of goals, then he can be the most valuable player for Arsenal

The drive and knowledge of N’Golo Kante, as well as being a fine footballer with and without the ball, could be pivotal for Chelsea. He makes Jorginho’s game easier because he is back in his proper position, and Jorginho has responded well to that. Defensively they are vulnerable, but Antonio Rudiger could be very influential once he is back fit. Kante will spur them on for a top four fight regardless of where they end up finishing.

🎥 Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool | Wonder Goal! Kanté Returns in Style 🔥 | Highlights

It is certainly not Paul Pogba. It should be Harry Maguire with the money they spent on him. He has already sussed out the four or five players who do not want to be there. Who is the key to them? With the size of Manchester United, they have to entertain and score goals.

Marcus Rashford’s hunger is still there and he is still working. His passing and confidence has gone, but he is still the key man in what they are trying to achieve. He is giving all he has got unlike the others, and that’s what points me in the direction of Rashford.

All the top players have periods where they don’t play well but what are they prepared to do about it? It is not pleasing on the eye but don’t you dare fault his work rate. It is nice to see a young lad getting a grip of things and trying to up his game for himself and those around him.

Who has the best manager?

The best manager at the moment is Unai Emery, his CV tells you that. He is making the wrong calls and substitutions, and does take ages to get people fit and back into the side - even when Lacazette is fit he doesn’t always play him, so there are frustrations. He should have made better work of the defenders in the transfer window, but he does have the edge as Arsenal are above the others at this moment. Frank Lampard is new to the role but not naive - it may be his lack of knowledge in certain situations to realise that some things aren’t working. There are more positives than negatives but he still has to prove himself and has to get his side into a position where they can challenge for the top four.

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