The race for the Premier League’s top four this season has the potential to cut to the chase as six clubs battle it out for the remaining European places.
We are now well into April, which means the end of the year is fast approaching and the race for Champions League places is heating up.
With Manchester City and Liverpool well on top, there are six other teams vying for the final two Champions League spots plus Europa League places, with massive links to come.
Most of the teams involved have just seven or eight games left to play, but due to Covid cancellations a few have nine.
Here talkSPORT takes a look at the Premier League’s top four battle as we near the end of the campaign…
Chelsea – 3rd
Chelsea have been in the top four all season, but after a 4-1 loss to Brentford at the weekend they are now just five points clear of fifth.
Therefore, their place in the top four is not yet assured and they are going to need a few more results from their last nine league matches.
Thomas Tuchel’s side started the campaign as genuine title contenders but four wins from 11 saw them trailing City and Liverpool.
From there, it looked like the Blues would comfortably seal third place, but after strong results for Tottenham and Arsenal in recent weeks, that doesn’t seem guaranteed.
Chelsea have faced carnage off the pitch this season which would likely mean the Blues will limit their spending this summer and if they were to miss out on the Champions League, who knows what could happen to the club without that income. ?
In their remaining matches, Chelsea will face Arsenal, West Ham, Wolves and Manchester United. If they manage to win it all or at least not lose, they should do enough to secure their place in the top four.
But a season that held so much promise seems to be ending in mild disappointment.
Expected arrival – 3rd
Chelsea’s remaining matches
Southampton – A – April 9
Arsenal – H – April 20
West Ham – H – April 24
Everton – A – May 1
Wolves – H – May 8
Leeds United – A – May 11
Manchester United – A – May 15
Leicester City – H – May 19
Watford – H – May 22
Tottenham – 4th
Tottenham have had a very strange season but they seem to be in good form at the right time.
Spurs started the campaign with Nuno Espirito Santo in charge, but after winning his first three league games things quickly turned sour and he was sacked well before Christmas.
Antonio Conte came on as a substitute, and after a solid start in which Tottenham were unbeaten in the league for nine matches, they lost four of their next five games, including a 1-0 loss to Burnley.
Things weren’t looking great but on transfer deadline day Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur arrived from Juventus and helped turn the season around.
Spurs have scored 21 goals in their last six league games and won five, so Conte has worked his magic.
If we look at their remaining matches, we can see that they still have to play against Liverpool and Arsenal.
The game against the Gunners could decide who clinch that final Champions League spot, but Spurs could have it all wrapped up by then anyway.
Expected arrival – 4th
Tottenham’s remaining matches
Aston Villa – A – April 9
Brighton – H – April 16
Brentford – A – April 23
Leicester City – H – April 30
Liverpool – A – May 7
Arsenal – H – May 12
Burnley – H – May 15
Norwich City – A – May 22
Arsenal – 5th
Arsenal turned things around after a nightmarish start that saw them bottom of the table after three defeats.
Since then, the Gunners have lost just seven Premier League games and they are in the hunt for the top four.
The North Londoners haven’t played in the Champions League since the 2016/17 campaign, and Mikel Arteta has trusted many very talented young footballers.
This group of players has been brilliant for the Gunners, but they were brought down to earth with a bump against Crystal Palace last time out.
The Eagles beat Arsenal 3-0 at Selhurst Park and it was a blow to the Gunners’ Champions League ambitions.
The Gunners still have huge games to play against Chelsea, Man United, West Ham and Tottenham, so this loss to Palace could prove very damaging.
Expected arrival – 5th
Arsenal’s remaining matches
Brighton – H – April 9
Southampton – A – April 16
Chelsea – A – April 20
Manchester United – M – April 23
West Ham – A – May 1
Leeds United – H – May 8
Tottenham – A – May 12
Newcastle United – A – May 15
Everton – H – May 22
West Ham- 6th
West Ham have not been outside the top ten this season and have reached third place on some occasions.
That’s very impressive considering David Moyes has a small squad to work with and has a first-team striker in Michail Antonio.
The Hammers are also deep in the Europa League, so the fact that they have followed Arsenal and Tottenham is impressive, and they should finish in a Europa League place no matter what.
This season has seen the Irons beat Liverpool and Chelsea, but the top four may well be out of their reach.
However, given that they are in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, you should make them one of the favorites in this competition, so that they can end up in the Champions League anyway.
West Ham still have to play Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City, so if they take a few points from them, the top four are still up.
Expected arrival – 6th
West Ham’s remaining fixtures
Brentford – A – April 10
Burnley – H – April 17
Chelsea – A – April 24
Arsenal – H – May 1
Norwich City – A – May 7
Manchester City – H – May 15
Brighton – A – May 22
Manchester United – 7th
Man United have had a season to forget – they are out of all cup competitions and unlikely to secure a top four spot.
The season has started with so much optimism following the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho. However, things quickly turned sour and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked at the start of the campaign.
The Red Devils then brought in Ralf Rangnick until the end of the year as caretaker manager, but he has never played that role before and has struggled to be heard from this team.
The German has lost just two of his 15 league games, but five draws in that spell have cost the Red Devils valuable points, and it looks increasingly likely they won’t finish in all four first.
The Red Devils have yet to face Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea in their last eight matches, so it’s hard to see where they will take any points.
This campaign has the potential to end terribly for the most famous club in the world.
Expected arrival – 8th
Manchester United’s remaining matches
Chelsea – H – TBC
Everton – A – April 9
Norwich City – H – April 16
Liverpool – A – April 19
Arsenal – A – April 23
Brentford – H – May 2
Brighton – A – May 7
Crystal Palace – A – May 22
Wolves – 8th
Wolves left Nuno Espirito Santo last summer and took a risk in appointing Bruno Lage, but he had a huge impact.
Old Gold have been tipped by some to be relegated but the former Benfica boss has put them in an excellent position for the final seven games of the 2021/22 campaign.
Wolves have flown under the radar but have conceded just 27 goals in 31 appearances, giving them the league’s fourth best defense behind the top three.
Their problem has been at the other end as they have only scored 33 goals as a team which could cost them a place in the top four or even the top six.
In their remaining fixtures they have to play against Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool, so they can play a part in the title pick, but it’s hard to see them getting enough points to challenge Tottenham and Arsenal.
Expected arrival – 7th
Wolves’ remaining matches
Manchester City – H – TBC
Newcastle United – A – April 8
Burnley – A – April 24
Brighton – H – April 30
Chelsea – A – May 7
Norwich City – H – May 15
Liverpool – A – May 22
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