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

King Power Stadium - Stormy

What is the mood among fans? An abiding mood of frustration, knowing that our competitors are unlikely EVER to offer us a better opportunity to bring home the Premier League bacon.

ARSENAL

We’re torn between the faint hope of the very worthy Foxes faltering and the possibility of them leaving the door open, only for the unthinkable consequence of Spurs charging through it.

How is the manager doing? Although it’s hard to envisage a last-ditch title tilt, at long last Arsène appears to have chanced upon a more balanced looking side and if we should finally produce the consistency to finish above Spurs, I wonder if this will be sufficient to get so many of those who have lost faith in him back on side?

Which players have been shining lights? For their unsung consistency, Monreal, Koscielny and Bellerín. Yet of late it’s been the homegrown Iwobi and the bargain buy Elneny creating a spark of optimism.

Which players have left you unimpressed? Theo Walcott is an extremely likeable lad but most Gooners have lost patience. There’s also great disappointment that Ramsey and Sánchez have failed to reproduce their feats from last term.

Where do you think your team will finish? Second looks to be the most feasible limit of our ambitions, but all that really matters now is finishing above our increasingly noisy neighbours.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Arsenal, Spurs, Man City. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Watford H 9 Apr West Ham A 17 Apr C Palace H 21 Apr West Brom H 24 Apr Sunderland A 30 Apr Norwich H 7 May Man City A 15 May Aston Villa H

Bernard Azulay, goonersdiary.co.uk, @GoonersDiary

ASTON VILLA

Mood among fans? It has switched from fury to apathy to mild optimism about what a new, promotion-specialist manager could do over the next two years. The new boardroom broom has started well (only Garde to go), but the choice of new boss is the biggest test. My sense is that Moyes is the preferred choice with Pearson, Pulis and Rodgers in the “they’ll do” camp. The alleged deep football thinkers will doubtless baulk at the unoriginality, but pragmatism is required.

Manager? Hopefully it will be a caretaker by the time this is printed … Sadly, Garde never gave any sign of possessing the coaching ability, the tactical nous or the mental toughness required. Goodbye rather than au revoir.

Shining lights? Gueye has improved since it became clear he needed a new club. That the rest haven’t shows they were hopeless in the first place and not simply shirking. Ayew is our best player by far.

Unimpressed? Guzan is an easy target and has lost his confidence. If Richards was as good as he thinks he is, we’d have stayed up. His inane, self-publicising social media ramblings are nearly in Lescott’s class. That Garde picks the same team every week suggests that the Under-21s are useless as well.

Finish? Adrift at the bottom

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Newcastle, Norwich, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Chelsea H 9 Apr Bournemouth H 16 Apr Man Utd A 23 Apr Southampton H 30 Apr Watford A 7 May Newcastle H 15 May Arsenal A

Jonathan Pritchard, Observer reader

BOURNEMOUTH

Mood among fans? It’s been thrilling. AFC Bournemouth fans are already celebrating and starting to wonder just how high the team can finish now.

Manager? Eddie Howe is becoming one of the most talked about managers. I hope Roy Hodgson has a good Euro 2016 as we don’t want to lose Eddie. I can’t see Eddie Howe leaving AFC Bournemouth for another Premier League club. It would just not sit easy with him.

Shining lights? They are all stars, to be honest, but the return of Max Gradel was significant and the most consistent player has been Charlie Daniels.

Unimpressed? I suppose I find Glenn Murray’s signing a strange one. While he has scored a few goals he does not really fit into the way the team plays. I can’t knock his effort, though.

Finish? Pre-season I said 14th, so I guess I should stick with that.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Sunderland, Newcastle, Aston Villa. Run-in 2 Apr Man City H 9 Apr Aston Villa A 17 Apr Liverpool H 23 Apr Chelsea H 30 Apr Everton A 7 May West Brom H 15 May Man Utd A

Peter Bell, AFCBchimes.blogspot.co.uk

CHELSEA

Mood among fans? The mood has been one of resignation for most of the season. There was a mild flirtation with anger, but to be honest May just can’t come quick enough for us.

Manager? Hiddink Mk 2 isn’t half as effective as Hiddink Mk 1. He seems to set up teams to not lose rather than win. The football is dull and the points haul isn’t much better than the beginning of the season under Mourinho. The players know that he’s not the one they need to impress.

Shining lights? No “s” required. It’s singular. Willian is the only player who can hold his head up high – the rest of them have tipped the scale anywhere between “average” to “are you actually a professional footballer?”

Unimpressed? How much space is there? Courtois – from most sought-after young keeper in the world to a shadow of his former self. Oscar – with so many body-parts missing I’m not sure how he even takes to the field: no heart, no spine, no guts, no left leg, need I go on? Hazard – call Mulder and Scully, there appears to have been an invasion of the body snatchers. Matic – where to start? From a ruthless machine (José called him a “monster”) to midfield dead-weight. Need I go on?

Finish? About 11th.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester (please), Tottenham, Man City, Arsenal Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Aston Villa A 9 Apr Swansea City A 16 Apr Man City H 23 Apr Bournemouth A 2 May Tottenham H 7 May Sunderland A 11 May Liverpool A 15 May Leicester H

Trizia Fiorellino, ChelseaSupportersGroup.net

CRYSTAL PALACE

Mood among fans? We are in the fourth FA Cup semi-final in our history and seven points clear of relegation with eight games left. And yet, we have not won in the league since 19 December, have the worst league record in the top four divisions in 2016 and have equalled our worst run of home defeats in our history (six). The fans are looking forward to Wembley, but opinions on Alan Pardew are becoming split. A win against Norwich on 9 April is a must to put any fears of relegation to bed.

Manager? You can see that the pressure is getting to Pardew now and his outburst against Jamie Carragher in his recent programme notes was telling. He has no excuse with injuries now as Wickham and McArthur apart we have a fully fit squad. There seems to be no plan B to stop this disastrous run. Even if we stay up the fear is we will tailspin straight into the next campaign.

Shining lights? Wilfried Zaha continues to deliver and Bolasie is starting to get back towards his pre-injury form. Wickham had a hit a brilliant level of form but then got injured, which sums up Palace’s season.

Unimpressed? Pape Souaré’s form has taken an alarming dip. Adebayor has impressed in fits and starts, but is not getting much service. Cabaye’s early-season pomp has vanished.

Finish? 15th.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr West Ham A 9 Apr Norwich H 13 Apr Everton H 17 Apr Arsenal A 20 Apr Man United A 30 Apr Newcastle A 7 May Stoke H 15 May Southampton A

Chris Waters, PalaceTrust.org.uk, @clapham_grand

EVERTON

Mood among fans? It’s divided with most Everton fans. Absolutely delighted to be going to Wembley for the semi-final of the FA Cup, especially after a great result against Chelsea. But disappointed to be below mid-table with only five wins at Goodison. Too many games have been lost from winning positions.

Manager? I’m still with Roberto, but I’ll give him until the end of the season. He needs to learn how to hold on to winning positions. We’ve dropped too many points, especially at home. Some bad substitute decisions have lost us games.

Shining lights? Without a doubt Lukaku has been outstanding, breaking records with his goalscoring. Ross Barkley has matured and added goals to his game and Aaron Lennon has surprised me with his constantly good performances, taking over from Gerard Deulofeu who was outstanding at the beginning of the season.

Unimpressed? Unfortunately time has caught up with Tim Howard, but he’s been a great servant to Everton for 10 years. I’m still not convinced about Tom Cleverley, but hope he comes good.

Finish? Mid-table.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Sunderland, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 3 Apr Man United A 9 Apr Watford A 13 Apr C Palace A 16 Apr Southampton H 20 Apr Liverpool A 30 Apr Bournemouth H 7 May Leicester A 11 May Sunderland A 15 May Norwich H

Steve Jones, BlueKipper.com, @bluekippercom

LEICESTER CITY

Mood among fans? Unadulterated jubilation, unsurprisingly. Perhaps, the nerves are starting to set in now we’re in the home straight but nothing can dampen our spirits at the moment.

Manager? He’s the league’s best on current form. We were mocked for appointing Ranieri off the back of his tenure as Greece’s boss, but he’s done a sterling job for us and deserves every bit of praise going.

Shining lights? Obviously Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy are the stand-out players but I’m vehement in my belief that N’Golo Kanté has been the club’s best player this term. His consistency defies belief. However, the whole squad has virtually been at the top of their game all season; Morgan and Drinkwater deserve plaudits for their marked improvements this year.

Unimpressed? It’s hard to single any one player out. Ulloa has not played as well as he did last season but he’s still contributing with crucial goals here and there. Gökhan Inler has come in for some criticism too but given his lack of opportunity to break in to such an imperious midfield, I wouldn’t say I’m “unimpressed” by him.

Finish? I have resisted the urge to predict our final position for a long, long time but last Saturday’s win at Crystal Palace felt pivotal. Champions.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Sunderland, Norwich, Aston Villa.

Run-in 3 Apr Southampton H 10 Apr Sunderland A 17 Apr West Ham H 24 Apr Swansea H 1 May Man Utd A 7 May Everton H 15 May Chelsea A

Chris Whiting, @ChrisRWhiting

LIVERPOOL

Mood among fans? We got to a final and lost but that didn’t ruin the day. We make the Europa League quarter-finals then three days later throw away a 2-0 lead against Southampton to lose 3-2. We could win the Europa League, we could win every game to the end of the season and just as easily lose them all and get no further in Europe. We’re kind of all over the place, but that’s OK as there’s a real feeling of optimism. Also still reeling over the success of Spirit of Shankly and other fan groups in getting our owners to capitulate and the Premier League fat cats to agree a £30 cap for next season’s away games.

Manager? Klopp is a good fit for us and has united the fans. A big personality, he takes the heat off the team, doesn’t deflect from defeat and takes no personal praise from a victory. Never ingratiating, often entertaining and no fake tan.

Shining lights? Firmino. Can has improved dramatically the past couple of months, and Coutinho. Lucas has been immense.

Unimpressed? Those who hide, those who think they’re better than they are, those who mess up time and again.

Finish? 6th

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Norwich, Sunderland, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Tottenham H 10 Apr Stoke H 17 Apr Bournemouth A 20 Apr Everton H 23 Apr Newcastle H 30 Apr Swansea A 7 May Watford H 11 May Chelsea H 15 May West Brom A

Steph Jones, Observer reader

MANCHESTER CITY

Mood among fans? Despondent. Despite our good form in the cups, our league form has been woeful – we haven’t won back-to-back matches since October and have managed 36 points from our past 25 league games. The club should be embarrassed given its resources. The mood took a further hit with the decision to charge up to £60 a ticket for the Champions League quarter-final with PSG. Ticket-pricing is, rightly, coming in for a lot of criticism.

Manager? Struggled this season. Despite the successes of his first campaign, ultimately, the team has regressed. I like Pellegrini as a man but it’s stale football under stale management. The decision to announce Pep Guardiola’s arrival on 1 February has evidently backfired too, as there’s a real possibility of the Europa League next season.

Shining lights? Bacary Sagna, Fernandinho and Joe Hart have been excellent. Coincidentally, they’re also our top three appearance-makers this season. Kelechi Iheanacho is an absolute star in the making.

Unimpressed? Martín Demichelis has been excruciatingly bad at times, but he’s not really to blame, the club should have let him go in the summer and retained Jason Denayer. Wilfried Bony has been dreadful.

Finish? 4th.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man City. Bottom 3 Sunderland, Norwich, Aston Villa.

Run-in 2 Apr Bournemouth A 9 Apr West Brom H 16 Apr Chelsea A 19 Apr Newcastle A 24 Apr Stoke H 1 May Southampton A 7 May Arsenal H 15 May Swansea A

Lloyd Scragg, mcfcwatch.com, @Lloyd_Scragg

MANCHESTER UNITED

Mood among fans? It’s been a poor season, we haven’t created enough chances, not scored enough goals and the football has been turgid. The facts on this are undeniable. We expected improvement but instead we’re worse this season than we were last. However, Louis van Gaal can still lead us to a top-four position and a trip to Wembley - though both are far from a given.

Manager? He has an immense pedigree and is well-liked but unfortunately has failed to meet expectations. He has been handicapped by a dreadful run of injuries but poor performances, particularly mid-season, the awful exit from the Champions League, the inability to beat a poor Liverpool side over two legs in the Europa League and the continuing erratic results in the league probably mean he won’t be in charge come August.

Shining lights? David de Gea continues to perform to the highest standards. Anthony Martial is a wonderful talent and hopefully will become a United legend, and the introduction of Marcus Rashford has given us something to look forward to.

Unimpressed? Memphis Depay has been a constant source of disappointment. Matteo Darmian is erratic and unreliable. The appearance of Marouane Fellaini in a United shirt continues to baffle.

Finish? We’ll just squeeze fourth.

Predictions Top 4 Leicester, Tottenham, Arsenal, Man United. Bottom 3 Norwich, Newcastle, Aston Villa.

Run-in 3 Apr Everton H 10 Apr Tottenham A 16 Apr Aston Villa H 20 Apr Crystal Palace H 1 May Leicester H 7 May Norwich A 10 May West Ham A 15 May Bournemouth H

Shaun O’Donnell, Observer reader

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Observer fans' network, for The Observer on Sunday 27th March 2016 09.59 Europe/London

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch