Liverpool have done their best in recent weeks to hand a place in the top four to Manchester United only to have their rivals, at each time of asking, hand it back. Liverpool lose to Crystal Palace and limp to a draw against Southampton but United draw with Swansea and rivals City and lose to struggling Arsenal.
Meanwhile, despite that victory over United, Arsenal have thrown away enough points in recent weeks that they look realistically out of the picture, and though Manchester City look to have secured a top four place with results this weekend, they look as interested in locking up third as Liverpool do fourth.
In short, none of the four sides pushing for the top four behind Chelsea and Tottenham have been convincing. And in the case of United, despite Liverpool’s repeated stumbles of late, they may have given up on it entirely. At least according to manager Jose Mourinho, who didn’t sound positive after his latest defeat.
“Is it possible?” he began when asked about his side’s top four chances this season following their 2-0 Arsenal defeat on Sunday afternoon—which itself came mere hours after Liverpool had drawn with Southampton to put United back in control of their own top four destiny. “I don’t think so.”
With Mourinho, it’s always easy to fall back on everything he says being a trick, a mind game, but the United manager mostly sounded deflated and tired speaking to the media. United may not be out of the top four race by the numbers, but Mourinho is a man whose only focus is now on the Europa League.
“I don’t think so because I don’t think we are playing one match per week,” he added. “I don’t think we’re going to do it. We go with everything on Thursday, and when you go with everything on Thursday you can’t go with everything against Tottenham and even when you go with everything against Tottenham it is difficult.
“Then two days later we play Southampton and two days later we play Crystal Palace and this is too much for us so I don’t think we have any chance of finishing top four in the Premier League. We have to chase Champions League by trying to win the Europa League.”