Race for the top-four: Who wins a ticket to the Champions League?
Odds and fixture rundown for Premier League top-four
Just three games remain for each side in this season’s Premier League, and the race for Champions League football looks to be going down to the wire.
Manchester City and Liverpool have taken the top two spots this season, and have the small matter of a title to fight for.
Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all remain in contention to fill those last remaining places in the league’s top-four. At present, six points separate Spurs in third from Manchester United in sixth.
Only United don’t have the additional worry of European semi-finals to worry about, but we look ahead at the form and remaining fixtures for the top-four to see who’s favourite to secure Champions League qualification for next season.
3rd – Tottenham Hotspur – P35 PTS 70 – 1/33
Three wins in their last five Premier League matches places them as one of the form sides in the fight for Champions League football. However, Spurs also have their participation in this year’s European competition to worry about and fall back on should their league form drop off.
Of those five games, the only two they have lost did come against the league’s top two in City and Liverpool, losing narrowly on both occasions. They’re also without star man Harry Kane for the rest of the season, though Son Heung-min has stepped up in his absence.
Defeats in late February and early March against Burnley, Chelsea and Southampton put an end to their title ambitions and blew the race for third wide open, but they’re still favourites to claim a top four spot.
Two of Spurs’ last three fixtures will be at home, and they’ve taken to their new stadium like they’ve been there for years. They play London rivals West Ham United at home this weekend, with Everton the visitors to the new ground on the final day of the season.
Between those two fixtures are the two legs of the Champions League semi-final against Ajax, as well as an away match against AFC Bournemouth sandwiched between those two legs.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side should gain maximum points on paper, but the Hammers and Toffees have picked up form in recent weeks and could prove to be tricky opponents if they show up.
4th – Chelsea – P35 PTS 67 – 4/5
After defeat to Everton at Goodison Park threatened to disrupt their top-four charge, Chelsea got back on track by winning their next three against Cardiff City, Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham.
They’ve not won in two league games, losing to title challengers Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield only two weeks ago, followed by a home draw against Burnley on Monday.
Maurizio Sarri has been fortunate that other sides have also been dropping points, but they’ll need to pick their form back up if they want to stand any chance of winning their remaining fixtures and securing a spot in Europe’s elite club competition.
Chelsea are another of the top-four sides that have to factor in a European semi-final. They’ll need to take the competition seriously to ensure they have a back-up route into the Champions League should they slip up in their remaining fixtures.
They kick-off their remaining fixtures with possibly their toughest; top-four rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford. Though Sarri’s side aren’t in the best nick of late, they’re still in better form than the Red Devils, so it’s bound to be a thrilling encounter.
The Blues also face tough fixtures against Watford at Stamford Bridge, and Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. On paper, Chelsea are the better side, but Watford have been tough customers recently and Brendan Rodgers’ appointment at the Foxes has seen a drastic turn in fortunes. Currently they’re one of the better sides in the league.
It’s all in Chelsea hands. Providing they match other results, they’ll qualify. But the loss of Callum Hudson-Odoi could prove pivotal with his recent inclusion in the side being one reason they’ve been able to win games.
5th – Arsenal – P35 PTS 66 – 13/10
Unai Emery’s side had their destiny in their hands only one week ago. But they’re now relying on Spurs and Chelsea to slip up in order to qualify for the Champions League after three defeats in five Premier League games.
Their latest defeat came away at Molineux, where Wolves outclassed Arsenal, with the Gunners 3-0 down by the break and showing no sign of any recovery.
They’ve also lost away to Everton and at home to Crystal Palace, the latter being the result which majorly dented their top-four aspirations.
Their European adventure could prove to be a killer distraction, but similarly to Chelsea, it gives Arsenal a back-up route into the CL.
Arsenal’s remaining fixture list looks a better prospect on paper than Chelsea’s, but in their current form, the next match could be make or break for the North London side.
They travel to Leicester on Sunday afternoon to try and get their fight back on track, but with their new found form, Leicester could look to claim a huge scalp and show their ambitions ahead of next season.
In the middle of a pair of semi-final ties against Valencia in the Europa League, Arsenal host Brighton and Hove Albion, a team who are in freefall but may need to put in a performance to avoid relegation to the second flight. It’s the sort of game that Arsenal have come unstuck in before.
They end the season away to Burnley in another match which you’d expect Emery’s side to win at ease. Burnley have already secured their top flight status for another season and have nothing but pride to play for, but Clarets boss Sean Dyche isn’t one to roll over and let the bigger sides have it all their own way.
6th – Manchester United – P35 PTS 64 – 11/2
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure at the wheel of Manchester United started incredibly well, winning his first seven league games as Red Devils’ boss, and leading United to a 13-match unbeaten league run.
But since defeat to Arsenal at the start of March, the wheels have come off and United look out of sorts again.
Two defeats on the bounce and three in their last five has seen their rejuvenation come to an abrupt end. They’re now the rank outsiders to secure Champions League football. They’ve come unstuck against teams they should be beating too, with a 2-1 defeat against Wolves and a 4-0 demolition at the hands of Everton stand out defeats.
If Manchester United lose their next match this Sunday against Chelsea at Old Trafford, they’ll be all but out of the fight for the top-four. If they can come through that with at least a point, they’ll still be in the hunt.
Three points would see them seize the upper hand against Chelsea in their fight, but United follow that huge clash with two favourable fixtures to end the campaign.
Huddersfield Town have known their fate for a long while, with relegation back to the Championship sealed back in March after defeat to Crystal Palace. The Red Devils face an away day at Huddersfield in early May as their penultimate Premier League fixture.
Cardiff City aren’t going down without a fight, and they’ll be hoping that they can keep their fight alive right until the last game of the season. If they can, an easy fixture on paper for Ole’s side turns into a tough battle that could cause problems.
View the latest Premier League odds at Coral.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.