Premier League fans’ verdicts – the run-in, part 1: Arsenal to Manchester City

Observer fans' network
Arsenal: the end of days. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/WBA FC Via Getty Images

Arsenal

What’s the mood among fans? With all the uncertainty about Arsène Wenger’s intentions and the increasingly likely exit of our two world-class talents, the ‘end of days’ mood around N5 couldn’t be stronger. Fans of most clubs would be delighted with a Wembley semi and a continued push for the top four – but we’re just dreading the prospect of an extended 10-game wake. And then there’s having to turn my phone off for the entire summer, should we end up finishing below our neighbours for the first time in 22 years.

Happy with the manager? The embarrassing Battle of Wexit played out in the skies above the Hawthorns showed the club has reached a nadir. I’m convinced, though, that there’s still a large consensus of fans who just want the obstinate old bugger to announce his impending retirement, so that we can enjoy his swansong in a climate of gratitude and affection. That might be the only way to deliver a fitting send off.

Key players For all the complaints about Alexis, why would he ever want to release the ball, only to see it go sideways and backwards?

Weak links Özil’s mercurial behaviour must have a negative impact on his team-mates. And when you contrast Xhaka’s impact with that of Kanté on Chelsea, he ranks as our greatest anticlimax.

We will finish … If the state of indecision over Wenger persists, sixth. If not, second. Hope springs external …

Predictions: Top four (in order) – Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool; Relegated – Hull , Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

Bernard Azulay goonersdiary.co.uk @GoonerN5

Bournemouth

What’s the mood among fans? The cloud has lifted in the last few games now that the team have finally won a game in 2017. Still, April has some tough fixtures in store, so the pressure is still on. We just hope Josh King and Benik Afobe can keep the goals coming.

Happy with the manager? Eddie Howe always has his feet on the ground: he came through the bad spell well and now we’re looking to finish strongly. He probably found out more about his players in the last few weeks than in the first half of the season. I think most fans would want the club to stick with Eddie and Jason Tindall until they want to leave.

Key players Ryan Fraser has continued to excel; something has just clicked with him and he comes alive when he sees a chance to run at defenders from halfway. King has also picked up the job of scoring regularly and has probably been our player of the season so far.

Weak links Artur Boruc has been brilliant in some games and at other times has had some real shockers. That said, pretty much all of the players have made individual mistakes that have led to goals.

We will finish … I haven’t changed my opinion much on this: I’ll stick with my pre-season forecast of 14th.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool; Relegated – Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Peter Bell afcbchimes.blogspot.co.uk @CherryChimes

Eddie Howe: feet on the ground. Photograph: Alex James/JMP/Rex/Shutterstock

Burnley

What’s the mood among fans? Generally positive but there’s still some nervousness with us not having won since January. We’re eight points above the relegation zone, though, so there shouldn’t really be any problems in staying up. On that basis, I think most Burnley fans are absolutely delighted with the progress the club is making.

Happy with the manager? Sean Dyche continues to do an incredible job – I can’t believe there’s a single Burnley supporter who isn’t fully behind him. To take us up twice is one thing, but to keep us up, assuming it happens, will be amazing. He’s so positive and our only concern will be keeping hold of him: other clubs would be only too happy to take him from us.

Key players Michael Keane has been the stand-out player and won his place in the England squad on merit. Elsewhere, Jeff Hendrick in midfield and Ben Mee alongside Keane at the back are having excellent seasons too.

Weak links The only let downs have been Steven Defour and Johann Berg Gudmundsson, and that’s only due to injuries limiting their appearances. Both of them have put in good performances when they’ve been available.

We will finish … I said at the start I’d take 17th, and I still would. But I think we’ll end up a little bit higher – let’s say 14th. What a season that would be, given that we’d been written off before a ball was kicked.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool; Relegated – Hull, Middlesbrough, Swansea.

Tony Scholes UpTheClarets.com @utcdotcom

I can't believe there's a single Burnley supporter who isn't fully behind Sean Dyche

Chelsea

What’s the mood among fans? There are certainly two camps. There’s Camp Confident – the ones singing: “We’re going to win the league,” at every game. Then there’s Camp Scaredy Cat, of which I am a confirmed member. We can be heard trying to shush them, and will continue to do so until the other teams need snookers.

Happy with the manager? In a season where most of us would have been happy with a steadying of the ship and a Champions League place, Antonio Conte could quite possibly deliver the Double. Add to that the fact he is passionate (and then some), obviously intelligent and utterly charming – what’s not to love? In a season that was going to be all about Mourinho and Guardiola, Antonio has come in and stolen the show.

Key players When you have a season like we’re having, it’s difficult to pick out just one or two players. Conte seems to have got the very best out of everyone. That said, Kanté has been a revelation – put him into any team and they would have a good chance of being in the top four. His work rate is unparalleled. But you also can’t ignore Eden Hazard’s trickery, César Azpilicueta’s consistency, David Luiz’s imperious performances – I could go on. You get the idea.

Weak links No one.

We will finish … Ummm … do I have to say it? I’ll whisper it. First. Maybe. But that does NOT mean I’m confident…

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City; Relegated – Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland.

Trizia Fiorellino ChelseaSupportersGroup.net

Pedro (left) and Cesc Fàbregas. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

Crystal Palace

What’s the mood among fans? Despondency has given way to cautious optimism. Three wins on the spin with three clean sheets have pushed us up the table and given us a chance of surviving. The clouds on the horizon, though, are the final 10 games: we have by far the hardest run‑in of the teams around us as we have to play the entire top six. I think we will need to beat one of them to stay up.

Happy with the manager? After a shaky start, Big Sam is doing what Big Sam does. He has sorted out the defence so we’ve stopped leaking goals and he’s now working on our attacking play. We have a solid base at last and the fans are now firmly behind him and the team after the nadir of the Sunderland defeat. Selhurst Park is finally starting to feel like an intimidating place for visiting teams again.

Key players The signings of Mamadou Sakho and Luka Milivojevic have been masterstrokes. Both have been pivotal in the team tightening up at the back, which has given the creative talents a platform. Yohan Cabaye and Andros Townsend look like totally different players now, having put in some dire performances earlier in the season – and Wilfried Zaha continues to bamboozle defences.

Weak links The only concern is Christian Benteke, whose confidence has deserted him at exactly the wrong time.

We will finish … 17th.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United; Relegated – Middlesbrough, Hull, Sunderland.

Chris Waters PalaceTrust.org.uk @Clapham_Grand

Everton

What’s the mood among fans? I’ve never known Everton fans so buoyant – at least not since the 1980s when we were the best team in Europe. The new owner, Farhad Moshiri, and Ronald Koeman have done wonders with the club and players, and this feels like it’s just the start of something big that will be sustained over the next few seasons. With the new stadium at Bramley Moore dock getting the go-ahead too, it’s all looking good.

Happy with the manager? We’re 100% behind him. A world-class player in his day and a successful manager in three countries – what a great figure to have in charge and take us to the next level. He’s straight-talking – if you are good enough and do it his way, you are fine. He has already got rid of some decent players who were not up to his standards.

Key players Idrissa Gueye and Morgan Schneiderlin are world-class – but every player Koeman has brought in has improved the team. Tom Davies and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have been given their chances and taken them, while Romelu Lukaku is obviously a world-class goalscorer.

Weak links I thought Deulofeu had the skill to make it at Everton, but he obviously doesn’t have the application to match.

We will finish … 6th or 7th. Either will get us into Europe.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester United; Relegated – Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland.

Steve Jones @bluekippercom

Tom Davies: taking his chance. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Hull City

What’s the mood among fans? We’re having serious mood swings. One week we’re convinced we can stay up, the next we’re doomed. That normally depends on whether we’ve just played at home, where our form is good and the fixtures are kind, or away, where we’ve been terrible all season and the ‘easier’ games are long behind us.

Happy with the manager? Marco Silva is a popular figure at the moment. He crafted a squad in January from loan signings and inexpensive imports, and has them playing as well as can be expected. He’s achieved some good results, and at the KCom Stadium has maintained his Mourinho-like record: five wins and one draw from six games in all competitions.

Key players Since the latter part of 2016, Tom Huddlestone has been a joy to watch. And Harry Maguire is maturing into a steely, marauding centre-half who can’t be far off an England call-up.

Weak links None of Mike Phelan’s summer signings have worked out at all – some due to injuries. The squad’s injury record this season borders on the ridiculous. Only our ability to concede penalties at an alarming rate has hurt us as much.

We will finish … I’d love to think the home form will continue and save us. Palace and Middlesbrough have devilish run-ins, so I’m going for Great Escape II – the sequel to our 1998-99 escape from the foot of the Football League. 17th it is.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United; Relegated – Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough, Sunderland.

Rick Skelton BoothferryToWembley.blogspot.com @HullCityLive

Leicester City

What’s the mood among fans? Since Claudio Ranieri’s divisive departure in February, optimism has returned under club stalwart Craig Shakespeare. There’s a real expectation around Filbert Way that the Foxes will now avoid the drop, allowing us to turn our wide and hopeful eyes to Europe. It’s only a couple of weeks until Atlético Madrid away.

Happy with the manager? Craig has always been popular at the club, given his success both under Nigel Pearson and Ranieri, and now in his own right. With Shakey at the helm, City look back to near their best.

Key players Over the course of the entire campaign, with the exception of Kasper Schmeichel, all of last season’s heroes have done themselves a real injustice – but the shoots of recovery are beginning to appear.

Weak links While most of the squad have come up short this year, it’s Ahmed Musa who has struggled the most. Since his arrival from CSKA Moscow in the summer he has failed to provide our frontline with any additional strength whatsoever. In fact, he’s made us weaker.

We will finish … Now that the results are picking up, I cautiously believe that we’ve turned a corner. Maybe, just maybe, we can get the top-half finish I crave. 10th.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United; Relegated ‑ Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland.

Chris Whiting Clippings.me/chriswhiting @ChrisRWhiting

Foxes farewell. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Liverpool

What’s the mood among fans? Mostly it’s been a good season but frustration has crept in with the run of the past few weeks – defeating our biggest rivals at the top of the table, and losing or drawing against teams we have to beat to stay in touch. We’ve got away with it a bit – because we did so well at the start we’ve managed to stay up there, but it could become a little nervy from now on.

Happy with the manager? He’s done well and yes, we’re behind him – it’d be ridiculous not to be. We don’t have the best squad, but he gets the best out of the players we have and when we’re good, we’re ace. Of our regular starting line-up only Sadio Mané, Joël Matip, Gini Wijnaldum and Ragnar Klavan are Klopp buys. We desperately need a full-on goalscorer – hopefully he will sign one in the summer.

Key players Mané has been our player of the season even though he missed a chunk of it at the Africa Cup of Nations. He’s a joy to watch. Adam Lallana has moved up a level and is unbeatable when on top form. Philippe Coutinho was unbelievable at the start of the season but hasn’t rediscovered his touch since injury and Roberto Firmino has shown more than a few flashes of brilliance mixed in with a true workrate. James Milner has been great.

Weak links We still struggle at the back – with the defence and with the keeper.

We will finish … 4th.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City, Liverpool; Relegated – Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland.

Steph Jones

Sadio Mané has been Liverpool's player of the season – he's a joy to watch

Manchester City

What’s the mood among fans? Excitement tinged with a hint of disappointment. It’s been up and down, with more ups than downs, but that Champions League loss to Monaco still pains me. All things considered, though, I’d be happy with second or third, and the FA Cup.

Happy with the manager? Fully behind him. Pep’s made his fair share of mistakes, but the players are clearly starting to understand his ideas. His stubbornness has been his greatest enemy in many ways, trying to change too much too soon. But to his credit he realised his mistake (albeit too late for a title charge) and stopped tinkering. Monaco and Everton aside, our results since the turn of the year have been excellent and our defending has improved too, with eight clean sheets in our past 15 games.

Key players Raheem Sterling has been our player of the season, without a doubt. His transformation under Guardiola has been an absolute joy to watch. Nine goals and 13 assists – not bad for a lad who shops at Poundland and Greggs … He’s been fantastic and has been helped by the form of his mate on the other wing, Leroy Sané, who’s been breathtakingly good in 2017. David Silva deserves a mention too: he’s excelled in a deeper midfield role.

Weak links Two words: Claudio Bravo.

We will finish … 2nd.

Predictions: Top four – Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool; Relegated – Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland.

Lloyd Scragg mcfcwatch.com @lloyd_scragg

City fans: excitement tinged with disappointment. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

• Click here for part 2: Manchester United to West Ham

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