Six clubs battling for final two top-four spots in Premier League run-in

The top-flight season concludes on Sunday, May 22nd
Six clubs battling for final two top-four spots in Premier League run-in

PA Sport Staff

Arsenal’s aspirations of securing Champions League football for next season were dented by Monday evening’s comprehensive 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace.

While Premier League title contenders Manchester City and Liverpool will almost certainly qualify, the Gunners are one of six clubs battling to join them.

Here, the PA news agency takes a closer look at the race for a top-four finish going into the final six weeks of the season.

Chelsea (3rd, played: 29, points: 59)

Remaining fixtures: Southampton (a, April 9); Arsenal (h, April 20); West Ham (h, April 24); Everton (a, May 1); Wolves (h, May 7); Leeds (a, May 11); Leicester (h, May 19); Watford (h, May 22); Manchester United (a, TBC).

Despite a 4-1 thumping at home to Brentford on Saturday, it seems inconceivable that the European champions will miss out. A five-point buffer on fifth place, plus a game in hand on Tottenham, puts the Blues in a strong position to prevent a calamitous end to a turbulent campaign. Balancing FA Cup and Champions League commitments could complicate matters but Thomas Tuchel’s men are in control of their own fate, including having to face four of their nearest rivals.

Tottenham (4th, played: 30, points: 54)

Antonio Conte's Tottenham climbed to fourth after thrashing Newcastle 5-1
Antonio Conte’s Tottenham climbed to fourth by thrashing Newcastle 5-1 (Nick Potts/PA)

Remaining fixtures: Aston Villa (a, April 9); Brighton (h, April 16); Brentford (a, April 23); Leicester (h, April 30); Liverpool (a, May 7); Arsenal (h, May 12); Burnley (h, May 15); Norwich (a, May 22).

Tottenham’s top-four hopes were written off by many less than two months ago when they slipped to eighth. But six wins from eight outings since has thrust Antonio Conte’s men into pole position for fourth. While they have played a game more than Arsenal, next month’s rescheduled north London derby means Spurs are effectively in control of their own destiny. And, aside from a tricky trip to Anfield, their remaining fixtures look relatively favourable.

Arsenal (5th, played: 29, points 54)

Remaining fixtures: Brighton (h, April 9); Southampton (a, April 16); Chelsea (a, April 20); Manchester United (h, April 23); West Ham (a, May 1); Leeds (h, May 8); Tottenham (a, May 12); Newcastle (a, May 16); Everton (h, May 22).

Arsenal’s recent resurgence was emphatically ended at Selhurst Park. Mikel Arteta is operating with a slim squad and currently has limited options at full-back and up front. Yet it is far from doom and gloom for the Gunners. Facing Chelsea, Manchester United, West Ham and Spurs in the space of 23 days is likely to define their season as they bid to return to European football’s top club competition for the first time since the days of Arsene Wenger.

West Ham (6th, played: 31, points: 51)

David Moyes is chasing Europa League glory and Champions League qualification
David Moyes is chasing Europa League glory and Champions League qualification (Mike Egerton/PA)

Remaining fixtures: Brentford (a, April 10); Burnley (h, April 17); Chelsea (a, April 24); Arsenal (h, May 1); Norwich (a, May 7); Manchester City (h, May 15); Brighton (a, May 22).

Aside from Chelsea, West Ham are the only top-four hopefuls juggling interest elsewhere. The Hammers are chasing Europa League glory and begin their two-legged quarter-final tie with Lyon on Thursday. David Moyes’ side fell agonisingly short of Champions League qualification late last term. They are already reliant on favours from elsewhere to prevent a repeat. Given most of their rivals have games in hand, a feeling of deja vu seems likely.

Manchester United (7th, played: 30, points: 51)

Remaining fixtures: Everton (a, April 9); Norwich (h, April 16); Liverpool (a, April 19); Arsenal (a, April 23); Brentford (h, May 2); Brighton (a, May 7); Crystal Palace (a, May 22); Chelsea (h, TBC).

Uncertainty continues to cloud Old Trafford as United’s search for a permanent successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rumbles on. Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag and Paris St Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino remain the front-runners. Champions League football would undoubtedly make them a more attractive proposition for a new manager and potential summer signings. However, current odds do not appear favourable and a string of draws – nine in total – could ultimately prove their undoing.

Wolves (8th, played: 31, points: 49)

Bruno Lage's Wolves retain faint hope of a top-four finish
Bruno Lage’s Wolves retain faint hope of a top-four finish (Martin Rickett/PA)

Remaining fixtures: Newcastle (a, April 8); Burnley (a, April 24); Brighton (h, April 30); Chelsea (a, May 7); Norwich (h, May 15); Liverpool (a, May 22); Manchester City (h, TBC).

Even the most optimistic Wolves fan is unlikely to be dreaming of a maiden Champions League campaign. The lowest points tally to secure a top-four finish during the past seven seasons is 66 (2016 and 2020). Bruno Lage’s men would therefore probably require at least six wins from their remaining seven games – which include meetings with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City – to be in genuine contention. Even then, Wanderers could still fall short.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more