The battle for a top-four spot in the premier league is set to go right down to the wire following the conclusion of last weekend games. Title chasers Manchester City and Liverpool are both assured of a top-four finish, but Tottenham, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are to battle for the remaining two spots with just three points separating third-placed Spurs and the Red Devils in sixth-place.
With five games to go for all of them bar Chelsea who have just four games, DailyAdvent will be taking a look at which two teams will finish alongside Liverpool and Man City in the top four.
FIXTURES FOR TOTTENHAM
Man. City vs Tottenham
Tottenham vs Brighton
Tottenham vs West Ham
Bournemouth vs Tottenham
Tottenham vs Everton
Mauricio Pochettino’s men shouldn’t be in this position in the first place as they were competing with the two title contenders as of early February. But, a February and March collapse saw the team lose ground on both Liverpool and Manchester City.
Spurs won one point out of a possible 15 between February and March 31. As a result, the chasing pack has caught up with them, but they are still favourites to clinch on to a third place. Pochettino’s men have a kinder run-in compared to that of their rivals. Though they face Man City this weekend, the remaining games are games against mid-table sides.
The Lillywhites will be expected to pick up maximum points in the home games Brighton, West Ham, and Everton, while away game against Bournemouth should also not be a problem.
However, with Harry Kane likely not play again this season and a potential Champions League semi-finals, Spurs will have to find a way to navigate through these matches safely with an already thin squad.
NEXT FIXTURES FOR CHELSEA
Chelsea vs Burnley FC
Man United vs Chelsea
Chelsea vs Watford
Leicester City vs Chelsea
Chelsea are in danger of missing out on the top four for the second consecutive season unless they turn it around in the last four games. The Blues currently sit in fifth following a 2-0 loss to Liverpool and have played more games than their rivals.
It looks like Sarri’s men have the easier run-in, starting with a game against Burnley on Monday before travelling to Old Trafford to take on another top-four rival Manchester United. The Blues host Watford in the penultimate game of the season before taking on Leicester in their final game.
However, it’s the game against Manchester United that standout, and the Blues will need to get something out of the game if they are to make the top four. Games against Leicester could also be a tricky one especially if the foxes are still battling for a Europa League spot on the last day.
Games against Burnley and Watford should not be a problem for Sarri’s men with Watford having an eye on the FA Cup final while Burnley should be safe by then.
Nevertheless, the Blues could still find themselves fall short at the end even if they win all remaining games. However, they could still qualify for the champions league next season should they win the Europa League.
NEXT FIXTURES FOR ARSENAL
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Wolves vs Arsenal
Leicester City vs Arsenal
Arsenal vs Brighton
Burnley FC vs Arsenal
Following their win over Watford last night, the Gunners are in a good position to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two years. The Gunners currently sit in fourth place with 66 points. Emery’s men are also still in contention for the Europa League which is another route for champions league qualification.
However, the Premier League is the more realistic route if they want to play champions league football next season. But, they will need to improve their form on the road. Arsenal’s win over Watford was just their second win in 16 away games and, with three of their five remaining games coming away from home, they will need to turn it around.
NEXT FIXTURES FOR MAN UTD
Everton vs Man United
Man United vs Man. City
Man United vs Chelsea
Huddersfield vs Man United
Man United vs Cardiff City
United are the team that have it tough among their rivals. Though they sit just three points behind Tottenham in third place, their run-in is the toughest of all teams competing for the top four. Solskjaer’s men face Everton, Man City, and Chelsea in their next three games before they face Huddersfield and Cardiff City in their final two games.
However, it’s their next three games that will determine their fate. They face an Everton side who have won three of their four last games. In home games against the top six this season, the Toffees have lost just twice ( Tottenham and Man City) which makes the trip to Goodison Park more difficult. The Red Devils champions, City at Old Trafford in a game that holds much significance for both sides.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Side then completes a trying week with a game against Chelsea.If United are to finish in the top four, they’ll need to get six points out those three games. Failure to get that could signal the end of their top four hopes.
In Summary, Manchester City will be favourites for the title as they have a game in hand on Liverpool. If the Citizens win all their remaining games regardless of what Liverpool does, they will lift the title for the second consecutive time with a point haul of 97, just three points adrift of their total points from last season. It will be fight to finish for the third and fourth placed team. For the neutrals, it will be fascinating to follow and like Sir Alex Ferguson says: “squeaky bum time.”
Prediction: After taking a look at the run-in of their respective fixtures, Tottenham looks favourite to take the third place while Arsenal and Chelsea will battle it out for the last Champions League spot which leaves United missing out.