Bengaluru, February 20: The title race for the Premier League may have been over with Liverpool needing just five more wins to claim the top prize, but the competition for a top-four place is expected to go down the wire.
As many as seven sides could make a claim for the fourth place with just seven points separating fourth from tenth. Liverpool and Manchester City are going to comfortably finish in the top four, while Leicester City are also likely to claim a place in the champions league given their league form.
But with Man City being handed a two-year ban by UEFA, a fifth placed club in the Premier League could also qualify for Champions League at the expense of the Cityzens. However, that's still up in the air. So, we'll take a look at the clubs who could take the fourth spot.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Sheffield United, Wolves, Arsenal, Everton and Spurs are now fighting for the fourth place and here we take a look at at the current state of play and see who could make the cut come May with the remaining fixtures.
Chelsea- 41 points
The Blues are having a mixed season this campaign. They started the season off on a terrible note against Manchester United after losing 4-0 on the opening day. However, they slowly came back strong in the later weeks and took control of the fourth Champions League spot. But, recently, they have won just two of their last seven games which are a big concern. Frank Lampard's big game results have not been good this season and they still have to play six of the top half. If they continue this current form, they won’t be in the Champions League next season via a Premier League top four finish.
Remaining big games: Spurs(H), Everton(H),Manchester City(H), Sheffield United(A), Liverpool(A), Wolves(H)
Tottenham- 40 points
Jose Mourinho probably has the toughest fixtures among the seven. After a slow start, he looks to be geting into a winning habit. However, his defensive vulnerabilities and lack of options could be a big factor in their chase for a UCL spot. Mourinho, however, has been a master of overcoming such obstacles and it will be interesting to see how he uses his experience and expertise to get the best performance from his side for the rest of the season. Also, it would be a huge task as they are expected to be without goalscorers Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, who are out with injuries.
Remaining big games: Chelsea(A), Wolves(H), Man Utd(H), Sheffield Utd(H), Everton(H), Arsenal(H), Leicester(H)
Sheffield United- 39 points
One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the Yorkshire side who are looking for the top fourth spot rather than fighting relegation. Despite spending very little in the transfer windows, Chris Wilder's side have been compact in delivering results. However, given their squad strength and inexperience, UCL berth may be a far fetched dream but surely Europa League could be within their grasp.
Remaining big games: Man Utd(A), Tottenham(H), Wolves(H), Chelsea(A), Leicester(H), Everton(H)
Manchester United- 38 points
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's performance against top sides have been outstanding so far however his side have been most wasteful against bottom-half teams. They’ve failed to claim more than two league wins together at any point and they are as liable to win any given game as they to lose or draw it. However, that could have been due to United's injury rigged side for most of the season. But most of the injured players like Mctominay, Pogba etc are likely to make a return in coming weeks while the latest addition of Bruno Fernandes look to be having a huge impact on the side. United, however, look to have also prioritised Europa league too and it now remains to be seen how they manage both the tournaments.
Remaining big games: Everton(A), Man City(H), Tottenham(A), Sheffield Utd(H), Leicester(A)
Wolves- 36 points
Nuno's side probably has the most lenient fixtures among the other contenders. However, they often encounter a bad run of games and if they are to make a cut into the fourth place, they have to make sure of it. Wolves, however, could be sidetracked by their run in the Europa League knockout stages. Nuno has prioritized the European competition and given he has a small pool of players, it will be interesting to see how he manages out both competitions.
Remaining big games: Tottenham(A), Arsenal(H), Sheffield(A), Everton(H), Chelsea(A)
Everton- 36 points
Since Ancelotti taking charge of the side, no team has won more points than Everton apart from their rivals Liverpool. Everton have lost just once, that too against Manchester City during eight Premier League games since the Italian’s first in charge on Boxing Day, moving out of the bottom zone to the touching distance of European football now. The Toffees now are just six points shy of fourth place. But they next face a stern test in the next three fixtures, with games against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea which would decide the outcome of their league finish.
Remaining big games: Arsenal(A), Man Utd(H), Chelsea(A), Liverpool(H), Leicester City(H), Tottenham(A), Wolves(A), Sheffield United(A)
Arsenal- 34 points
Mikel Arteta's side probably has the worst chance of securing a top-four spot given his squad strength as well as the run of games. Defensively Arsenal have improved significantly in the last couple of months however has been way more inconsistent in getting maximum possible points. They face three big games away in the remaining fixtures coupled with three more tough home games. As of now, it looks like their most prominent chance of securing a champions league spot could be from winning the Europa League.
Remaining big games: Everton(H), Man City (A), Wolves (A), Leicester (H), Spurs (A), Liverpool (H)