The Premier League title race is relatively done and dusted with Liverpool leading the league table with 79 points, followed by Man City with 57 points with a game in hand. Liverpool and Man City are quite ahead and do not look like falling out of the top four anytime soon. The same cannot be said to third-placed Leicester because they have dipped in form, and if they want to make it to next season’s UEFA Champions League, then they have to start winning games. Chelsea is occupying the fourth position, but clubs like Man United, Wolves, Tottenham, Sheffield United, and Arsenal are all up for the race. The fifth position might be up for grabs if Man City’s European ban appeal fails. The gap between fourth-placed Chelsea and the eleventh placed team is just 8 points. It is fair to say that the European positions are up for grabs in the Premier League this season, and qualifying to the Champions League is more important to clubs across Europe because it can be the difference between a hefty profit or a deficit in the balance sheet. We take a look at the top-four contenders in this race for the Champions League and their chances.
Can Leicester sustain top-four push?
Leicester City is firm favorites to be in the top four this season after accumulating 50 points from 28 matches played so far. They are 8 points clear of fifth-placed Man United. Leicester started the season on a bright note but have dipped in a form with just one in their last five games, with their top scorer Jamie Vardy experiencing a dry spell lately. The defense has also been leaking in goals of late, and Manager Brendan Rodgers will reshuffle his pack and get them back on track.
Will Chelsea finish in the top four?
Frank Lampard’s side has had some outstanding results and terrible ones as well, losing to West Ham, Southampton, and Bournemouth at home. Chelsea also looks very fragile in defense at times. The fourth place is theirs to lose. They have retained the fourth position for a long time now. Chelsea needs to start winning matches, especially at home, because Man United and Wolves are gradually catching up. Chelsea will face the top two sides, Liverpool and Man City in their ten remaining games. These games could determine their fate in the top four race.
Can Man United still make the top four?
The biggest problem with this United team is their inconsistency. They can go on a short winning run and lose to relegation-threatened teams at any moment. Winter signing Bruno Fernandes seems to hold the key for United to finish in the top four. Since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon, he has been the shining light and has brought some creativity to the united side. United will be welcoming Paul Pogba this week with a progressive midfield partnership between him and Bruno looking exciting on paper. It will be intriguing to see how Man United will play against Man City this Sunday. This game is one of the greatest derbies in world football. Looking at United’s results against the top four sides this season, a win will be a major boost for them in challenging for the third or fourth spot.
Can the special one pull a surprise?
Jose Mourinho is trying to turn things around at the London-based club. However, recent defeats to Chelsea and Wolves, coupled with the injuries to star players, Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min has seen them lose their sharpness in attack. They are also losing ground in the top-four race. Their chances of securing Champions League football next season looks bleak at the moment. However, Mourinho could pull some magic despite the recent setbacks. Tottenham will face five teams from the top half and five from the bottom half in subsequent weeks with ten matches to go.
Can Sheffield, Wolves, and Arsenal cause an upset?
Sheffield United has been the surprise package this season so far. Manager Chris Wilder and his boys have done well, and they are indeed the team of the season. They will need something special to qualify for the top four this season, although they seem to be well organized and are very strong at the back. They are still in contention to qualify for Europe in their first EPL season since their promotion from the SkyBet Championship.
Wolves are currently the in-form team in the top-four race. Despite a slow start to the season, Nuno Esperito Santo’s side has turned a corner with his team now level on points with Man United, three points behind Chelsea. Wolves have a decent defense, creative midfielders and good strikers who are in form. Last Sunday’s win over Mourinho’s Tottenham proved that they are serious contenders in the top four race. Arsenal is another club who can make it to the top four and shouldn’t be written off at all. Manager Mikel Arteta has brought some fresh air to the team since he took charge in December. Arsenal is unbeaten in their last five Premier League matches under Arteta. Their exit from the Europa League could also allow them to focus on securing a top-four place entirely.
They are a much-organized team now. Arteta’s men need to keep on winning, stay focused and hope the teams ahead of them start dropping points.